Published: June 14, 2023

Location: Umkomaas, South Africa


Closing Date: Ongoing

SharkWise Marine Internship

Programme overview

The SharkWise Marine Internship is a fully immersive marine biology internship programme based in Umkomaas, Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa. The internship is aimed at young students who want hands-on marine experience, focusing on shark research.


The SharkWise ProjectThe SharkWise Project interns


About the organisation

The SharkWise Project was founded by marine biologist Dr Sara Andreotti and shark behaviour expert Walter Bernardis.

Dr Sara Andreotti is a marine biologist specialising in shark research. She is a Lecturer at Stellenbosch University Department of Botany and has been developing a management and conservation plan for great white sharks since 2009. Sara also co-founded SharkSafe Barriers (Pty) Ltd to provide an eco-friendly and shark-specific technology to keep swimmers and surfers safe from large predatory sharks without impacting the marine environment. She is one of the four co-inventors of the SharkSafe BarrierTM: a patented technology that successfully bio-mimics the visual effects of a thick kelp forest, combined with a shark-deterrent permanent magnetic field.

Walter Bernardis is the founder and operator of African Watersports, an internationally renowned dive centre; famous for the annual sardine run off the east coast of South Africa. He is also the pioneer of shark eco-tourism in Umkomaas and Nile crocodile diving in the Okavango Delta.


About the programme

The interns work with Masters and PhD students registered at Stellenbosch University and assist with data collection for their postgraduate research.

Current postgraduate research includes:

  • Genetic sampling of several shark species (You will learn the importance, procedures and storage of genetic sampling);
  • Shark fin photo identification (We can identify sharks using the unique notch patterns of their dorsal fins!);
  • Underwater photogrammetry (the use of lasers to accurately measure the length of sharks and other animals underwater);
  • Reef biodiversity assessment (Assess the biodiversity of the local reefs and learn how to perform transects, identify species and contribute to a long-term database).

Interns also analyse data using various software, undertake photo and video equipment care, enjoy fun dives and have the opportunity to meet local and international people with similar interests.

All the projects we run actively contribute to conserving the species in question. Our research focuses on Oceanic Blacktip, Bull, Tiger, and Ragged-tooth sharks, and the species were selected based on knowledge gaps, accessibility, existing logistics, funds, and eco-tourism potential. Our objective is to educate young and passionate people about marine conservation and help them pursue a career in marine biology. In addition, the internship supports students registered at South African institutions to collect data on sharks to improve shark management and conservation.



The interns will stay less than a kilometre from the ocean in Umkomaas in a spacious home with breathtaking sea views. The Aliwal Shoal Marine Protected Area (MPA) is one of the top dive sites in South Africa. It is also world-renowned for the amazing marine life that is found within it. The MPA was established in 1991 and stretches 18.3km along the coast and 7km out to sea, protecting 126 squared km of the ocean. The objective of this protected area is to conserve the species found within it, keeping the marine ecosystem as natural and pristine as possible.



You can join the internship for 1 to 3 months between February and November each year.


Costs and pre-requisites

The internship costs R30 000 (ca EUR 1,800) per month. Interns are expected to have a passion for the natural world and a hands-on attitude towards academic research. Current or prior studies in the natural sciences are preferred.


What’s included

The program includes the following:

  • Airport transfers
  • Seafront accommodation
  • Diving training
  • 12 dives per month in the Aliwal Shoal MPA
  • Equipment care
  • Marine biology fieldwork experience and data management
  • Training in underwater activities associated with data collection
  • Exclusive lectures provided by Dr Sara Andreotti

The program excludes the following:

  • Flights and travel/dive insurance
  • Food (although we provide a fortnight braai/ barbeque and the basics like bread, milk coffee).


How to apply

Please forward your CV and a motivation letter if you would like to join us and do not hesitate to ask should you have any questions! You can find out more in the SharkWise Marine Internship brochure.