• Join us for the experience of a lifetime and volunteer with one of the few Conservation-Focused Shark Diving Companies in SA!
  • Be trained as a marine research assistant, interact with sharks and gain essential research skills for your future career!
  • Contribute towards meaningful research projects working towards protecting sharks in South Africa
  • Students, Post-Graduates, Early-Career Scientists, Marine Biologists and Passionate Conservationists are encouraged to apply!

Our volunteer programme offers a unique opportunity to get involved with meaningful research studying Great White Sharks and other shark species in the Great White Shark capital of the world, as well as contribute towards white shark marine conservation in South Africa.

Since the Great White Shark population in South Africa is at potential risk of extinction with numbers believed to be around 300-500, our White Shark research focuses primarily on monitoring the numbers of these apex predators in our waters, with the aim of obtaining another population estimate within the next two to three years. We are using dorsal fin identification to identify and closely monitor the different individuals we are observing each day and building a comprehensive database of fins photographed.

With other shark species also threatened or vulnerable due to over exploitation, we are also conducting studies to learn about these species in particular the endemic shark species we have in South Africa. We currently know little about these species; hence the aims of our research are to obtain baseline data on sharks in our area, including their diversity, abundance, movement patterns, habitat use and growth rates. Secondly, in the long-term we will be assessing the health of their populations and determining whether local fishermen play a role in shark population decline.

Participants in the programme will assist with data collection and data management for the projects outlined above. Volunteers will gain a considerable amount of sea experience and valuable research skills, both on our cage diving boat and dedicated research vessel.

Daily activities include cage-diving trips, shark tagging trips (from our research boat and from the shoreline), snorkelling for sharks in the kelp forests, beach clean ups, equipment maintenance, video analysis, data entry and dorsal fin ID analysis. Volunteers will get to interact daily with our scientists and learn all about Great White Sharks and other marine wildlife in our area. Participants will also have the opportunity to interact with the local community by supporting our shark conservation, education and outreach projects.

We endeavour to make your time with us a personal and career building experience, providing extensive training in all projects and tailoring the volunteer programme to meet your individual needs. Included in the programme are several chances to be involved with cage-diving activities and come face to face with the magnificent Great White Shark in an unforgettable diving experience!

Shark & Marine Research Institute’s volunteer programme start date is on the 1st and 15th of each month, and departure date is the last day of the month. We offer volunteer positions for a minimum of two weeks up to a maximum of three months. Check out our white shark marine volunteer brochure and find out more today!

Opportunities are available all year round; the only time we do not take on volunteers is from the 15th December to 1st February.


All Shark & Marine Research Institute volunteers will be housed in our volunteer house, located just a 10-minute walk or a two-minute drive from the harbor we launch from. The house can accommodate 16 volunteers at a time, with between two to four volunteers per room. It is spacious, comfortable and a home away from home. All linen will be provided along with Satellite TV, WiFi, laundry facilities and a cleaning service.

  • Shark & Marine Research Institute Volunteer House
  • SMRI vol house kitchen 1
  • Shark & Marine Research Institute Volunteer House Living Room 1
  • Shark & Marine Research Institute Volunteer House Living room 2
  • Shark & Marine Research Institute Volunteer House Kitchen 1
  • Shark & Marine Research Institute Volunteer House Bedroom 1
  • Shark & Marine Research Institute Volunteer House Bedroom 2
  • Shark & Marine Research Institute Volunteer House

Explore the Volunteer Programme

What’s Included?

  • One night’s accommodation in CT on arrival
  • Transfers from and to Cape Town international airport
  • Transfers to and from Gansbaai (the project site)
  • Transport provided for all programme related activities
  • Accommodation in our volunteer house
  • All food basics
  • Lectures
  • Welcome pack (including hoodie, t-shirt, cap, buff and shark USB with Great White Shark footage)
  • Waterproof deck boots to use for the duration of your stay
  • Trips on our White Shark cage diving tourist boat
  • Tagging trips on our research boat
  • Opportunities to cage dive with white sharks
  • Practical training in all running projects
  • Training in fin identification and analysis
  • Training in ethical handling, angling and tagging techniques
  • Training in boat handling skills
  • Outreach activities e.g. beach clean ups and school talks
  • Some excursions organised on bad weather days

Optional Excursions

  • A trip to Cape Agulhas – the southernmost point of Africa.
  • A visit to Betty’s Bay to see the Stony Point penguin colony
  • A visit to the local heritage site Klipgat Cave
  • Hikes in the local area
  • Horse riding trips in the local area
  • Shopping excursions and wine tasting in Hermanus or Cape Town
  • River boat cruises along Stanford River
  • Surfing or SCUBA diving
  • Visit to the Two Oceans Aquarium and the Waterfront in Cape Town
  • Offshore dive past Cape Point to see blue and mako sharks can be arranged
  • Dive to see sevengill sharks in Cape Town can also be arranged
  • A trip up the East Coast to do the highest bungee jump in the world