Marine Protection Programme Volunteer

Marine Protection Project
September 10, 2020
Mossel Bay, South Africa
Closing date


At the Marine Protection Project, we work in the field with iconic species found in the Mossel Bay coastal area – many of which are endangered. Our research and conservation programme involves collecting data on these species and working in the local community to inspire people to conserve our seas. You defend what you love and by witnessing the immense biodiversity of the South African coastline you can take the first step in making that connection. By taking part in our programme we will provide you with hands-on education and a once in a lifetime experience of working with captivating marine life, including great white sharks. We are also proud to offer research placements for university students looking to study in South Africa for their university research or course credit.

Located on South Africa’s world-famous Garden Route the harbour town of Mossel Bay is where the Marine Protection Project calls home. Renowned all over the world for breaching great white sharks it is a mecca for shark enthusiasts. But it is also so much more than that.

Here in Mossel Bay we are blessed with an abundance of marine biodiversity and through our conservation programme we want to show you just how incredible it is. Whether you are a student studying marine sciences, someone who has always loved the ocean, or you just want to learn more, our programme is for you if you’d like to make a difference to marine conservation.

Whatever walk of life you are from you can make a positive difference and our ethos of ‘conserving our ocean together’ underpins every aspect of our work. We firmly believe that everyone can have a positive influence on our seas and their incredible inhabitants. Together, we can build a better future for our ocean.


Our programme runs from Monday – Friday each week with the following projects incorporated within the month long itinerary and weekends free for time to explore the beautiful Garden Route.

Our Projects

  • Date collection and cage-diving with great white sharks. During boat trips you will be trained to gather behavioural data on great white sharks, and you will be responsible for taking dorsal fin identification photos for our artificial intelligence project.
  • African penguin and seabird rehabilitation in collaboration with the Seabird & Penguin Rehabilitation Centre. Each week you will volunteer at the Centre and be trained in rescue, rehabilitation and release protocols for endangered seabirds.
  • Aerial surveys for marine monitoring. We carry out citizen science drone surveys to monitor marine species along the Mossel Bay coastline, including sharks, rays and seals, and aim to conduct these each week depending on weather conditions. Using this data, we are creating an online interactive map to identify sighting hotspots around the bay, and you will be involved in both collecting and analysing this data during you time with us.
  • Plastic pollution research. You can expect to participate in regular beach and underwater cleans during your time with us. During these we monitor a number of different variables, such as the type of plastic, frequency and location, which inform our plastic pollution research and education outreach in the local area.
  • Endemic catshark population study. You will be trained to tag endemic catsharks using the mark-recapture-method and to take data on these sharks. You will also assist our marine biologist with data analysis for this project. We also run an eggcase monitoring project alongside this.
  • Cape fur seal monitoring. Mossel Bay is home to around 2,500 cape fur seals and you will have the opportunity to participate in our surveys of the resident colony to learn more about their behaviour and to monitor for entanglements.
  • Reef surveys. You will participate in reef surveys to assess species richness and abundance in Mossel Bay, by either snorkelling or scuba diving depending on your qualifications. Please note that scuba diving certifications are available during your time with us, please indicate your interest when applying.
  • Conservation lecture programme on topics including shark ecology and South African marine ecosystems, alongside transferable skills like science communication and BRUV deployment. Each month we also aim to offer guest lectures from other marine scientists working in marine science in South Africa to provide our participants with networking opportunities.
  • Participants in the month-long programme have a safari included on the third weekend as we are also keen to showcase the wonderful terrestrial wildlife South Africa has to offer and the interconnectivity of life on our planet.

Please be aware that due to many of these projects being sea-based they are highly dependent on the weather and animal sightings can also vary. An example itinerary is available when enquiring and we are happy to answer any questions you have so don’t be shy and get in touch today!


At the Marine Protection Project, we operate with the ethos of ‘conserving our ocean together’ and strongly believe that we all have our own unique skillset to contribute to the conservation of our seas. Whatever your background we hope to inspire you and provide you will the skillset to make a positive difference to our oceans through our educational programme. Students, postgraduates, early-career scientists, marine biologists and aspiring conservationists are all encouraged to apply, but what is most important is a passion for our marine environment and an eagerness to learn.

From media and business majors to biologists and communications majors, and those looking for a career change or on a gap year, we are looking forward to welcoming you all to meet the iconic marine life of Mossel Bay, South Africa.

Application process

Applicants are required to complete an application form detailing their interest in the programme and their aims for participating in the programme alongside providing a copy of their CV. Please email for a copy of our application form. Students looking to participate in the programme for university credit or for research must contact our marine biologist at to discuss their university requirements as well.

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