APEX Foundation

Shark Project & Cage Diving in South Africa

Jumping shark photographed by Shark Conservation Project

Shark Project South Africa

Duration: 2 – 12 weeks (see “Details”)
Season: Year round
Arrivals: One day before the start date (see “Details”)
Program Fee: $3,555/4 wks
Age: min 18
Student Status: Not required
Participants from: All nationalities
When to apply: 4 months prior to your planned arrival
Work: Unpaid


The project is focused on shark cage diving and boat-based eco-marine tourism. It is based in Kleinbaai, a small harbour town in the Western Cape of South Africa. This area is known as the best place in the world to see Great White Sharks in their natural habitat.

The founder is a committed marine conservationist. The project also works closely with a number of conservation bodies to address conservation challenges and improve living conditions for local communities and wildlife.

Volunteers are primarily here to work closely with sharks and tourists. The majority of sea time is spent aboard Shark Fever as a crew member, helping out with cage diving operations. For volunteers who show a good work ethic, time aboard Lwazi may also be available.

Volunteers staying for longer than one month may also have the opportunity to be a part of tracking teams (usually teams have 10- 12 hour shifts at sea). They will be normally scheduled for 1-2 trips per day, though this depends on volunteer numbers/space on the boat.

There is the option of booking an English language course in Cape Town before starting the Volunteer programme. However a course is not compulsory. If you are able to converse fluently in everyday situations, you can go straight into the programme.

How it works

About the Shark Project

The Shark project has been introduced to study sharks and to bring tourists closer to these fascinating creatures. They operate one boat for scientific research and several boats for tourist activities.

The research includes:

  • Previously unstudied environmental parameters affecting Great White Shark movement patterns and utilisation of their environment in South Africa
  • Comparative studies of the sharks’ behaviour in our area versus other shark populations in the Eastern Cape of South Africa
  • Identification of individual sharks by their dorsal fins
  • Wound healing
  • Environmental factors affecting shark sighting during cage dives
How the program works

You need to fill in the application form and provide all the necessary documents (CV/Resume, Police Clearance etc). See “How to apply”.

All documents will be then forwarded to the project for approval. Projects can deny an application and are not obliged to give a reason. We would then recommend applying for a different project.

As soon as the programme is paid in full, you will receive the full programme details. This includes the itinerary, full contact details of the programme, airport pick-up details and details of meals, accommodation, daily transfers etc.

First day and your first trip

On your first day you can look forward to:

  • An introduction from the volunteer coordinator
  • Meeting staff, crew, fellow volunteers and interns
  • Familiarising yourself with the surroundings: the office, your accommodation, and also shops, so that you can stock up on supplies
  • Being given an information pack and a welcome pack containing your volunteer T-shirts and jackets (ZAR200 deposit for key and jacket)
  • Completing indemnities and forms
  • Asking any questions you may have

The first trip runs usually like this:

  • Briefing from the team marine biologist
  • The launch times will be given the previous day and are usually at 8:30, depending on tides and weather conditions
  • You arrive at the anchoring spot after 20 – 25 minutes, the anchor is lowered, the cage goes into the water and a scent trial is made
  • Then we settle down, final preparations are made for the dive and the rest of the day is spent watching, diving and enjoying!
Your role on “Shark Fever” boat
  • Report for duty 1 hour before boat is scheduled to launch
  • Clean and dry the boat in the morning and evening (before trips and after)
  • Check equipment for diving-chum, bait, food, coats etc.
  • Lay and retrieve anchor and cage
  • Assisting in dive operation
  • Education and care of clients and client interaction
  • Chumming
  • General seamanship
  • Data recording
  • Give clients: towels, sun block, sweets, water, food, wet suits etc.
  • Assist clients when seasick
  • Constant and vigilant shark spotting and bait watching
  • Clean wetsuits and put them away
  • Storeroom duties – needs to be kept clean daily
  • Assist crew and skipper
Organization Duties
  • You will receive details of your trips each evening for the next day (this is sent via sms the night before).
  • You need to be at the boat 1hour before the launch.
  • You are responsible for keeping a log of your days on the boat (specify which boat and how many trips for that day).
  • Expect to go on the boat at least 15 days out of 30 days. (min. 15 trips and max. 30 trips, weather permitting)
  • Off days: please ask if you want some time off, otherwise the only time off is on “no sea” days.
  • If you cannot go out on the boat: Arrange this the night before.
  • Feeling sick – report this immediately to the volunteer coordinator.
  • Exclusive trips – volunteers: You can expect exclusive trips for the volunteers.
  • Exclusive trips – clients: Clients can request exclusive trips, with minimum crew. Volunteers will then not be allowed.
Days Off and No Sea Days

If you are not scheduled to go on the boat the following will be available for you to do:

  • Input data into the database for Fin ID Research
  • Walk around the local area
  • Horse riding and quad biking (this is at an extra cost to yourself)
  • Or simply just relax, read and watch TV

If the weather does not allow the boat to go out to sea then you will be taken on one of the following excursions:

  • Hermanus – shopping, wine tours
  • Betty’s Bay – penguin colony
  • Cape Agulhas – meeting of the two oceans

If there is something else you would like to do on these days, you are welcome to talk to the project coordinator to arrange something else.

  • You fly to the Cape Town airport and receive a transfer to the project from there (see “Local Transports”).
  • If you will attend a language course in Cape Town before the Volunteer project starts, please follow the arrival instructions of the course.
  • An introduction meeting as well as the required training is given directly by the project.
  • Note: It is only safe to use public transport in daylight, and never board an empty minibus taxi after dark, or get on an empty train coach. Always travel during daylight times and do not isolate yourself!

Key Points

  • Min. 2 weeks, max 12 weeks (suggest 4 weeks)
Start dates
  • On 1st or 15th of the month all year round.
Dates Closed
  • Day closed/off  is in Christmas Day and New Years’ Day.
Working Days
  • 7 days per week
  • Accommodation is included in Program Fee.
  • The fully furnished house is situated in a safe residential area. The house sleeps 8 in 4 shared rooms. Facilities include a DVD player, internet (music or movie downloads are blocked) and satellite TV.
  • Sheets are provided but no towels (washed regularly).
  • Breakfast is provided.
  • Lunch: only when on the boat (please inform us of any dietary needs).
  • Dinner: make your own.
  • Snacks: buy for yourself.
Local Transports
  • Pick up & drop off are included in the cost (from Cape Town to Gansbaai).
  • Please note that if your return flight is booked early morning, you need to take a transfer the previous day and need to arrange accommodation in Cape Town and your own transfer to the airport.
  • No daily transfer is needed as the project is located within in walking distance from the accommodation.
  • Kleinbaai
  • 3 km to Gansbaai; 40 km to Hermanus; 120 km to Cape Town
  • All participants are required to provide details of the cover to the program sponsor in writing before departure.
  • You can use insurance arranged by the program sponsor, or you can arrange your own.
  • Details of the sponsor-arranged insurance are available upon request.
  • APEX Foundation is not involved in arranging the insurance in any way and can not offer any kind of support regarding insurance whatsoever.
  • In case of any problems, no matter how serious or small they are, inform the organization you are volunteering for immediately in order to give them a chance to rectify the problem.
  • In the event that the problem cannot be solved to your satisfaction, inform the program sponsor about the problem immediately.
What you will need
  • Warm clothes, old clothes to wear at sea, old shoes (water boots will be provided), sun block, sun hat, non-slip shoes, polarized sunglasses, projective shirt, projective jacket, projective cap, rain jacket, towel, spending money, journal (notebook), camera, own snorkel, mask, flippers (this can be rented at an extra cost), own toiletries, any medication, household cleaning products (i.e. washing powder).
Potential Health Risks





Age: Min 18
Student status: Not required
Experience: Not required (need to be really fit and able to do physical activities)
Required languages: English
Required level: Intermediate, IELTS 5.0 (or equivalent) or better*
Nationality: Nationals of all countries are eligible
Type of visa: If staying less than 90 days, free “Visitor Visa” obtainable on arrival.
If staying longer than 90 days, applicant must arrange for own visa
for duration stay in South Africa.

*You must be able to understand English in everyday situations, in this case you can go straight into the program. If your English level is lower we recommend to attend a language course in Cape Town before the beginning of the volunteer program.


  • All fees are subject to change without notice.
  • All bank transfer fees are always born by the participant.

Application Processing Fee: $50 (non-refundable)
Payable with your application, includes:

  • Processing your program application
  • Processing your payments for the program sponsor
  • Transferring materials and communication between you and your program sponsor
  • Responding to your email questions until your departure for South Africa
  • Check APEX Foundation Terms & Conditions for more details

Program Fee: $3,555/4 wks
Payable after you are accepted, includes:

  • Placement at a project
  • Documents for your visa application if required
  • Assistance by the program sponsor during the entire program
  • Sponsor’s 24 hrs emergency number
  • Accommodation (including bedding)
  • Breakfast and lunch when on boat
  • Transfer from Cape Town to Gansbaai*
  • Welcome pack (2 T-shirts and a cap; hire of a jacket; 1 x pair of water boots and a DVD)
  • Lectures and related activities
  • Trips on the boat (weather permitting)
  • Programme materials
  • Certificate of contribution towards Penguin Nesting
  • Volunteer certificate for programme participation
  • Tour of Gansbaai and surrounds, including a Township Tour as well as a visit to the famous Danger Point Lighthouse
  • A monthly donation to the Volunteer Project, to assist in their funding

Note: To avoid any confusion, the Program Fee does not include:

  • Travel and medical insurance
  • Visa Fee (if required)
  • International airfare and airport taxes
  • Transfer back to Cape Town
  • Local transport
  • Any pre/post project accommodation and meals
  • Lunch, if not at sea, dinner (self-catering)
  • Spending money for evenings and weekends

*An airport transfer on arrival (paid by the volunteer) can only be provided if the program sponsor receive the arrival details (date, time and flight number) at least 3 days before arrival.

Accommodation Placement Fee: 0

  • Accommodation is included in Program Fee.

Accommodation per week: 0

  • Accommodation is included in Program Fee.

Miscellaneous fees:
Not everybody pays them:

  • Alteration of booking: $70

Additional Expenses:
May involve for example:

  • Airport transfer
  • Local transport
  • Spending money
  • Meals
Cancellations & Refunds

Cancellations received:

  • 4 weeks or more prior to the program start: Program Fee less $240 is refunded.
  • Fewer than 4 weeks prior to the program start: Program Fee less $1,750 is refunded.
  • Visa denial: Cancellation Fee is 20% of the Program Fee
  • No suitable placement from the program sponsor: Full refund
  • Cancellation by participant after the start of program: No refund
  • Cancellation because of unsatisfactory attendance or performance: No refund
  • In the event a refund sent according to the applicant’s instructions is returned by a bank or the postal service as undeliverable or unclaimed, $20 administrative fee plus expenses are charged for each subsequent refund attempt.

How to Apply

Get the application kit

Complete application
At least 4 (four) months before the program starts, full application must be received. The full application includes:

  • Enrollment Form
  • An English Letter of Motivation
  • $50 Application Processing Fee (non-refundable)

Application Approval

  • The application form is sent to the program sponsor and you will be waiting for it to be approved.
  • Once the application is approved, you will receive payment instructions for the Program Fee.
  • Please note, the program sponsor can deny an application and are not obliged to give a reason. We would then recommend applying for a different project.


  • The balance payment must be made at least 6 weeks prior to the arrival. Payment can be made either by a bank draft (bank check) or by AMEX Traveler’s checks.
  • As soon as the programme is paid in full (no later than 6 weeks before arrival), you will receive the full programme details: the itinerary, full contact details of the programme, airport pick-up details and full details of meals, accommodation, daily transfers etc.


I am from – insert your country – can I participate?

Yes. The program is available to applicants from all countries.

I am not a student, can I participate?

Yes. You don’t have to be a student in your country to apply.



2 Responses to “Shark Project & Cage Diving in South Africa”
  1. markus says:

    hello my name is markus looking for jobs abroad sharks are one of my greatest interest to work with think I see if you had any available job, or perhaps later in the time I have money to travel to africa without any major problems or if you might know elsewhere who are looking for people jobs with great white shark

    • admin says:

      Hello Markus, this is a volunteering project, not a job. However, you may have to take part in such a project basically to build your CV. To show that you did something like this before. Otherwise it will be very difficult to find a job involving this activity. When you are ready to apply, let us know, we’ll be happy to guide you through the process.

Questions? Ask below :-) In English, please.

APEX Foundation