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Whale Coast Shark & Marine Ecology

Whale Coast, South Africa

Whale Coast Shark & Marine Ecology
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Conservation of Sharks, Skates & Rays

Project Information

Volunteer Type Volunteer, Intern or Field Study

Cost of Project From $1080 AUD

Duration Minimum 2 weeks

Start Dates Every Monday throughout, all year.

Work Roster 10 - 2.30, 5-6 days a week

Age Requirement 18 years of age


Volunteers work within anon-governmental organisation committed to promoting the conservation and sustainable utilisation of marine resources through research, education and outreach enterprises.

This organisation has become recognised for its inclusive and holistic approach to conservation and ecosystem based research and focuses on a variety of initiatives, including an understanding the biology & ecology of sharks, skates & rays for management purposes, cetacean research focusing on southern right whales and the spatio-temporal behaviour of whales & dolphins in the local area, research techniques include photo identification, behavioural coding and environmental monitoring,  the collection of baseline diversity & abundance data from the Bay, a marine debris study and the investigation of the ecological role of mesopredators (medium sized predators including rays, snakes and sharks) in kelp forest ecosystems.


  • Your Contribution

Volunteers, Interns or Field Study students that work at this project are in a unique position to contribute to conservation, education and research initiatives in a location unlike any in the world.

Although scientific research is the pillar of the management and conservation of resources, the effective dissemination of information research is a necessity for the various species-specific and ecology-based research projects that take place at this organisation. Depending on the time of year you join the project, you will participate in the following components of the program:

1. Cetacean Monitoring;
2. Elasmobranch surveys;
3. Estuary Monitoring;
4. Estuarine macro-invertebrate surveys

  • A Typical Day

Volunteers undertake a variety of activities which are dependent upon the season. Activities may include:

• collecting behaviour data, logging geographic location of cetaceans in the bay and recording photographic identification (where applicable) of cetaceans aboard an eco-tourism whale watching vessel

• entering data and compiling basic reports for the cetacean monitoring project

• shore based research collecting biological data, tagging and genetic sample collection

• deploying the baited remote underwater video (BRUV), collecting data, uploading videos to the lab computer and identify all species captured by the BRUV during deployment, enter data into the BRUV database

• macro-invertebrate collection techniques, environmental data collection and invertebrate identification using microscopes and species keys

• strategically monitor estuarine environmental parameters of the two local river estuaries

• laboratory testing

• Interns and field study student’s own research projects

• husbandry & facility maintenance including collecting organisms for the facility touch tank, catching small demersal sharks using snorkel gear, elasmobranch husbandry, tank system maintenance and general duties

• deliver interesting and educational information about the organisation, shark biology & ecology, threats to sharks and marine ecosystems, etc, to visitors, school and community groups to the facility.

• Monthly shark-cage diving expedition

  • Skills Required

Volunteers must be fluent in English, be willing to work and must be able to take direction from staff.

Interns should be one of the following: (a) students currently enrolled at an academic institution and studying towards a science major; (b) graduated scientists with a minimum of a B.Sc. with a science major; (c) naturalists with proven experience in research, management and/or conservation; (d) educators with experience in environmental education.

  • Challenges

Volunteers will undertake activities in a variety of vessels including a 4 metre rubber duck/aluminium hull and a whale watching vessel. Occasionally, some volunteers will experience sea sickness while out on the Bay.

  • Accommodation

A five bedroom house situated a 15 minute drive to the project. Bedrooms are shared (maximum 6 per room) and may be unisex. Transport to and from the facility and work related activities is provided.

  • Meals

Volunteers are required to purchase their own food and prepare their own meals.

For lunch, volunteers either take their own lunch to the project, or can purchase supplies in town.

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