Conserving Great White Sharks

Our Conserving Great White Sharks programme will suite anyone who loves the ocean, marine wildlife, shark fanatics, whale enthusiasts(seasonally) and people who want to learn more about how Ecotourism benefits conservation. Volunteers from all over the world can enjoy the opportunity to experience unique marine related projects in the biodiversity rich environment of the Greater Dyer Island area, Gansbaai, South Africa and gain exposure with various marine species, including but not limited to Great White Sharks, Southern Right Whales(seasonal), Dolphins and many marine bird species such as the endangered African Penguin.

Project Details

Our Conserving Great White Sharks programme was founded by Marine Dynamics, an internationally recognised leader in shark cage diving and shark conservation.

The team constantly works to deliver the promise of the motto: Discover and Protect. Every year we host thousands of international and local visitors on our custom designed diving boat, Slashfin.

Every trip sports a dedicated marine biologist who ensures necessary data capturing, logging and processing of non intrusive fin ID photos that are taken on board of Slashfin during each trip. This data set contributes to the building of an effective database of the sharks visiting the Great Dyer Island area, which in turn guides our open population estimate for this species.

Our biologists are conducting specific research projects on the behaviour and biology of Great White Sharks. As a result, we are gaining significant new insights into recognition of individual sharks by their fins, tracking movements of individual sharks and their response to differences in water temperature, etc. and parasites endemic to Great White Sharks.

This work, which has been published and presented, is made possible by the funds generated by shark cage diving and donation from clients as well as volunteers.

Additionally, a videographer/photographer is part of the experienced crew on each trip ensuring that we build up a detailed archive of shark sightings.

The Dyer Island Conservation Trust, performs critical research into this species, this research is made possible by income from our eco-tourism programmes. Valuable research is conducted from our Marine Dynamics Shark Tours cage diving boat – Slashfin, on a daily basis, furthering our knowledge of the movements, distribution, habits and feeding ecology of this magnificent species. The DICT has a dedicated research boat, Lwazi (Xhosa for “seeking knowledge”) from which our marine biologists study important aspects of shark behaviour. Our other research boat Calypso is used for various research efforts including observing seal/shark interactions.

Situated near Cape Agulhas, the Southern most tip of Africa, Kleinbaai hosts an extraordinary marine environment.

Known as the Great White shark capital of the world, this are provides thousands of local and international tourists with daily sightings of these magnificent animals (peak May to September). Their density can be attributed to the availability of viable prey in our region. Geyser Rock, one of the islands in the Greater Dyer Island Complex, is home to roughly 60,000 Cape Fur seals, the favoured prey of our Great White sharks.

Despite frequent sightings, there is no evident growth in population and little research has been conducted on Great White sharks in general.

The Birkenhead Volunteer Lodge, your accommodation during your stay, is equipped with 4 chalets that house between 4 and 6 persons per chalet, with own bathroom, kitchen and living areas as well as daily living essentials.

The main house will be occupied with volunteer coordinators and a full time janitor so all the needs of the grounds are met. There is also a very spacious living area in the main hall with a pool table as some entertainment and a cash bar, communal indoor braai and kitchen area that can be used.

The facility has a big and safe swimming pool and garden. Walking to the office is easy, quick and safe and will only take between 10 and 15min (1.2km). We also have a volunteer bus that is equipped with all the safety permits and regulations and is used daily for the volunteers needs.

Key things about the lodge
– Expect to share
– Fully furnished
– Satellite TV – a whole lot of channels
– DVD player
– Wireless internet (remember to bring laptop or phones)
– Emergency numbers are in the house
– Sheets are provided and washed regularly
– Maintenance kept weekly
– Heating in the rooms and living area
– 3 Bicycles for personal use
– Keep your personal belongings safe (we have a safe at the office if needed)
– The water is safe to drink

All work day meals are provided.

On arrival at Cape Town International airport you will have to clear Immigration and collect your baggage, once you have cleared customs formalities proceed to arrival. You will need to arrive in Cape Town no later than the previous Sunday and spend the evening at an accommodation of your choice. You will need to be in the centre of Cape Town.

You need to provide us with your accommodation details, Marine Dynamics will contact you the Sunday evening with the exact pick up time for the Monday morning. Our launch times depend on the weather and tide and changes on a daily basis and this affects the daily pick up times. Make sure to ask reception for messages. Pickup can be as early as 05h00am. You will be picked up with our clients so please be ready as any delays in pickups will have an affect on our launch time.

You will arrive at our head quarters the Monday morning and usually will be going on our trip for the day so pack your bathing suite, camera and sun block. If you are prone to seasickness, it is better to take a tablet the evening before and then again the next morning.

You will be going on the trip as a client and will have a breakfast/lunch with the clients as well as a safety briefing. You will have the chance to dive and enjoy the day out at sea.

After the trip you will be greeted by one of our volunteer coordinators that will take you for food shopping and get you settled in your accommodation.
Please also use this time to ask questions or raise any concerns.

Our programme also ends on a Monday. Our transport will take you back to Cape Town to your preferred or booked accommodation. This transport is always after our trip with our clients.

If you prefer us to take you back to the airport, your flight has to be departing after 19h00pm. Anytime before that, we can not guarantee getting you there on time as you need to be at the airport 2 hours ahead of time, then you might have to go back the day before, spend one evening in Cape Town and make your own way to the airport

We recommend you bring your mobile phone for use in South Africa. There is mobile phone coverage (cell phone with local service); please be sure to ‘unlock’ your mobile device for international use with your provider.

Not known as the “Cape of Storms” for nothing! It is wise to pack for both warm and cold weather conditions – the temperate climate of the Overberg can surprise with very cold squalls and extremely humid conditions. The Western Cape region has its rainy season during the winter months. But come warm or cold, this does not stop us from having fun every day!

The Western Cape region including Cape Town offers a variety of activities and excursions to book during your time off from volunteering. From surfing lessons, to local wine farms, the famous Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens and the rich culture of the region, you will be spoilt for choice!

Some excursions will included :
Cape Agulhas – the most Southern Tip of Africa (1 ½ hours drive)
Hermanus for shopping and wine tasting (50min drive)
Betty’s Bay to visit the Penguin Colony at Stoney Point (1 ½ hours drive)
Cape Town to the Waterfront and the Aquarium (2 ½ hours drive)
Cave hike
The beach
Quad bikes

Transfers to and from Cape Town for arrival and departure
All trips on the boat
Other educational excursions and activities
We supply basic breakfast essentials such as cereal; and tea and coffee is available in the chalets. If you are on the boat then a light lunch is available such as a cheese bread roll and fruit.
Lectures and related conservation work
2 x T-shirts, 1 x cap, 1 x jacket (for return after programme or can be purchased for an additional fee)
Internet access at accommodation

The opportunity to gain first hand experience of working for an ecotourism boat and the rare opportunity to work with the Great White Shark and other Marine Wildlife.

We specialize in the “Marine Big 5” experience, where we hope to find whales, dolphins, seals, sharks, and African penguins on each trip. Not to mention our incredible seabird sightings (albatross, petrels, skuas, etc) and breath-taking unspoiled scenery !

Our main objective is to ensure you receive adequate sea going time during your stay. You will have the opportunity to shark cage dive but will be expected to assist guests during their trip and duties will be assigned to you while on board. You will ensure that every guest gains a once in a lifetime experience and be able to share your knowledge as a host.

Those who show a good work ethic and those who are studying in a related field will have the opportunity to go on research expeditions and assist our marine biologists in data collection and shark tracking among other experiences such as environmental surveys (when time, weather and schedules allow. Please note: This is not guaranteed and not open to persons staying 2 weeks and less).

We are involved in other projects such as: penguin nests which sometimes need placement at the colonies; shark egg collection; bird surveys; animal rescues. Penguin colonies are sensitive and it is not possible to always be involved in a rescue attempt but if possible we will do so.

You can expect lectures by our marine biologists and expert crew on:
Shark biology and behaviour
Basic seamanship and Safety at sea
Shark tagging and tracking
Marine conservation and Conservation Projects
Data collection

Everything in Kleinbaai is dependant on the weather. Some days the weather does not allow us to go to sea, may it be rough seas, strong winds, heavy rain or big swells, when it is too dangerous, we will not be going to sea. Unfortunately there is nothing we can do about it but we will always make a plan to keep you occupied. We call these “no sea days”. We will either arrange for lectures, excursions or if you just want to relax at the house and chill, this is your choice. When we have 2 or more no sea days we will inform you and you can easily hop on our transfer bus and go to Cape Town (individual or as a group) and spend a couple of days exploring and we can pick you up again when the weather clears up in a couple of days (additional cost for transfer is applicable).

Quick Overview

Country & Area  : South Africa, Gansbaai

Nearest Airport  : Cape Town International Airport (CPT)

Transfer Time     : ± 2 hours

Duration              : 2 – 12 weeks

Minimum Age     : 18

Join the ethical conservation revolution and help us make a real impact!