Published: February 23, 2024

Location: South Africa


Closing Date: Ongoing

Shark Research Volunteer Programme

Programme overview

Exciting news! Our volunteers are in for an incredible adventure as they gain valuable field experience assisting in the collection of data on several shark species in our waters. From non-invasive dorsal fin photo identification of great white and bronze whaler sharks using specialized software, to studying the population dynamics of our coast’s indigenous shark species during catch and release tagging surveys from our research vessel and shoreline, and even snorkeling surveys where volunteers will learn to catch smaller sharks by hand – there’s something for everyone.

As if that wasn’t enough, our volunteers will also have the opportunity to take part in shark cage diving trips, where they’ll collect a variety of observational data to aid in better shark management decisions. And that’s not all! We also collaborate with a local wildlife sanctuary where our volunteers gain hands-on experience in animal husbandry, working closely with a variety of charismatic land mammals rescued from the bone trade and other illicit black-market activities. Join us for an unforgettable experience!


Shark & Marine Research Institute volunteers on the boatShark & Marine Research Institute volunteers at the beach


About the organisation

Get ready to dive into the world of shark conservation with the Shark & Marine Research Institute (SMRI)! Our South African public benefit, non-profit organization is dedicated to the research and conservation of a variety of shark species along the eastern coast of Cape Town.

We’re proud to collaborate with Stellenbosch University and the Department of Forestry, Fisheries, and the Environment (DFFE) to further our mission of inspiring change and raising awareness in our local coastal communities through educational outreach initiatives.

Founded by the White Shark Diving Company in 2015, the Shark & Marine Research Institute is the perfect place for shark enthusiasts from around the world to come together to learn about and contribute to shark conservation in South Africa. We welcome both local and international students to join us, and we’re happy to help students fulfill their university fieldwork requirements.

Join us in our efforts to protect these incredible creatures and the oceans they call home. Contact us today to learn more about how you can get involved with the Shark & Marine Research Institute.


About the programme

Get ready for an adventure of a lifetime! At our program, we rely on good weather conditions for all our research activities, and we recommend joining us for a minimum of one month to experience everything our program has to offer.

A typical week on our program is jam-packed with exciting activities, including shark cage diving trips, a research trip, snorkeling sessions, and catch-and-release tagging excursions from the shoreline. We also have data days where volunteers assist with data entry and analysis, as well as lectures and practical training on our research techniques.

On days off or during bad weather, volunteers will have plenty of opportunities to explore the area and participate in a variety of exciting activities. And that’s not all – we also work closely with a local dog shelter and a wildlife sanctuary, where volunteers can spend the day helping out where needed.

Join us for an unforgettable experience filled with adventure, hands-on learning, and the opportunity to make a real difference in shark conservation. Contact us today to learn more about our program and how you can get involved!



Prepare to be amazed by your surroundings! Our program is located in the picturesque Van Dyk’s Bay, Kleinbaai, Gansbaai, Overberg, Western Cape, providing our volunteers with a stunning volunteer house overlooking the ocean and within walking distance of the harbor. You’ll be accommodated in comfortable dormitory-style rooms with ensuite bathrooms, housing 3-4 volunteers per room and a maximum of 10-12 volunteers on the program.

Our volunteer house is fully equipped with everything you need for an unforgettable stay, including two fully equipped kitchens, two balconies with sea views, two BBQ areas, a pool table, and wi-fi.



We offer flexible duration options for our program, allowing volunteers to join us for one week up to three months, with the option to extend beyond three months subject to additional visa requirements. Our intake is on the 1st and 15th of every month, and we request that volunteers arrive the day before their start date to facilitate the smooth running of the program.

Our program fees are affordable, with options ranging from one week to one month, and students receive a 10% discount on their fees.


Costs and pre-requisites

1 week: US$750

2 weeks: US$1250

3 weeks: US$1690

1 month: US$2100

2 months: US$3500

3 months: US$4750

Weeks after the first month are US$500 per week. Students also receive a 10% discount on their fees.

A 25% deposit will secure your place and the balance of your fees will be due 1 month before your arrival.

We warmly welcome volunteers of all backgrounds and experience levels to our programme. We pride ourselves on our ability to tailor the programme to meet individual needs, ensuring that everyone has an enriching and enjoyable experience. The only prerequisites are a passion for sharks, a love for the ocean, and an adventurous spirit!


What’s included

Our program fees include accommodation in our volunteer house by the sea, pick up and drop off at the airport, transport to and from program activities, multiple shark cage diving trips, multiple research vessel trips, snorkelling sessions, basic breakfast and lunch supplies on working days, a welcome pack, lectures, training, sea experience, all equipment needed, and much more!


How to apply

To apply, simply visit our website at, call or WhatsApp us at +27 63 680 3063, or email us at Join us today and experience the adventure of a lifetime while making a difference in shark conservation!