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Marine Conservation Volunteer Project in South Africa - Table View

Marine Conservation Volunteer Project in South Africa - Table View

Help protect marine wildlife
Start dates
Programs start every Monday
Choose from 2-24 weeks
Volunteer hours
Up to 7 hours a day
Volunteers aged 18+
Stay in shared lodging in Gansbaai
Program fees
From CA$1846 for 2 weeks
What's included
Find out here
Apply for free
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Who is going?
Group video calls

Once you have secured your place, join regular video calls to meet your Program Manager and other volunteers before your trip.

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This program is ideal for:

Volunteers who are happy and confident in the ocean and want to learn more about Marine Conservation while working closely with biologists from the project's research team.

Project details

Want to help with the conservation of marine life in the waters of South Africa? International Volunteer HQ’s Marine Conservation project in Gansbaai gives volunteers the opportunity to help with the ongoing conservation of a variety of marine species. Most of your time will be spent at sea, and you’ll have the chance to get involved in a wide range of activities that contribute towards the research and conservation of sharks, whales, dolphins, penguins, seals, and seabirds.

What to expect and how you'll make an impact

The waters around Gansbaai is the shark cage diving capital of the world and is home to a wide variety of different marine species. There are shark sightings all year, peaking in the Southern Hemisphere in winter (May – September). Southern Right Whales including their calves return every year in July and stay around until December, when they return back to Antarctic waters. Other species including seals and penguins are resident all year and there are also sometimes sightings of bottlenose, humpback and common dolphins. Volunteers also have the opportunity to help out at the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary which is a world-class center for the rehabilitation of seabirds in distress, with a particular emphasis on conserving the African penguin.

As a Marine Conservation volunteer in Gansbaai your duties may include:

  • Environmental Education work with local students
  • Snorkel kelp dives
  • Community Education by participating in educational shows
  • Beach Clean ups and rubbish data collection
  • Assisting the crew in the dive operations, helping clients and data recording
  • Assisting at the African Penguins Sanctuary with cleaning, fish preparation and assisting at feedings
  • Shark egg collection
  • Data collection including capturing on board, supporting research activities.

*Please note that tasks and activities may vary from time of the year and weather. There may also be occasional no-sea days due to bad weather, in which case a conservation or recreational activity will be arranged for volunteers to do as a group (any entry costs for recreational activities are not included in the program fee).

You can also expect presentations by the marine biologists and expert crew on:

  • Shark biology and behavior
  • Basic seamanship and safety at sea
  • Shark tagging and tracking
  • Whale research and biology
  • Ocean conservation
  • Data collection
  • Dyer Island Conservation Trust projects

The volunteer project offers a limited number of places each year so don’t miss out and apply today for this once in a lifetime opportunity.

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #14: Life Below Water

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #14: Life Below Water

The ocean regulates and drives global systems that make the Earth habitable for humankind. Marine biodiversity is critical to the health of people and our planet. Preserving threatened ecosystems, as well as tackling marine pollution and overfishing through conservation activities is key to saving our ocean.

Why do Marine Conservation volunteering in Table View with IVHQ?

When you join the Marine Conservation project in South Africa, you’ll be helping with the conservation of rapidly dwindling marine species, while getting the opportunity to learn more about these amazing mammals by:

  • Spending lots of time at sea observing marine life
  • Learning about the behaviors and biology of sharks, whales and other species
  • Helping out at the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary
  • Gaining hands-on marine conservation experience
  • Option to join in on eco-tourism (cage diving or whale watching), and other conservation work

Volunteer requirements

  • Volunteers must be aged 18 or over to participate in this program
  • All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance
  • All volunteers must speak fluent English.
Are you eligible to volunteer?

Submit a free application so we can confirm your eligibility and check availability for your preferred dates.

Apply for free

Not sure which program to join?

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'Who is going' users image
Who is going?
Group video calls

Once you have secured your place, join regular video calls to meet your Program Manager and other volunteers before your trip.

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What recent volunteers said about their IVHQ experience

Andrea Støvland
30 May 2024

I learned a lot about the culture down there and how they live in relation to their conditions. Just the joy of the children knowing that you are coming is something I will take with me forever, it seems like I have made a difference to them!

Purdy Thompson
30 May 2024

I’ve gained a lot of independence and I have grown as a person massively. Seeing a different side of the world has left me open minded and very grateful for my life back at home in England.

Caitlin Stokes
21 May 2024

I’ve gained life knowledge and opened my mind to how other people live around the world.

Ivana Stipsits
01 Nov 2023

Through this experience I gained a lot of self confidence and I could also improve my English skills. Moreover I made friends from around the world and got to meet so many nice people!


To read all reviews, visit our reviews page.

Academic course credit

Academic course credit through International Volunteer HQ and Intern Abroad HQ.

Academic course credit

Gain course credit from your college or university and meet your academic requirements when completing a volunteer abroad program with International Volunteer HQ!

Learn about course credit


Volunteer Abroad in Table View, Cape Town, South Africa with IVHQ


The program is based in Gansbaai on the stunning Western Cape of South Africa. Gansbaai is about a 2.5 hour drive from Table View, Cape Town, which is where volunteer orientation and general administration is carried out by our local team. The volunteer accommodation is situated in Gansbaai and project work is based on boats off the coast of Gansbaai or at an African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary, a world-class center for the rehabilitation of seabirds in distress.

Arrival and orientation

Volunteers need to arrive in Cape Town on Saturday in order to complete the program orientation which will take place on Sunday afternoon. After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive at the Cape Town International Airport (CPT). Your airport pick-up is included in your Program Fee.

When you arrive, you will be greeted at the airport by a member of the local team and transported to a backpackers accommodation in Table View where you will stay for your orientation days. Your accommodation is covered by your Program Fee and includes the Saturday ​night before your program orientation.

If you are traveling in South Africa prior to your volunteer program, we can arrange for you to be picked up within the Cape Town CBD area on the Saturday.

Orientation is taken by our South Africa - Table View team in Table View. Orientation covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in South Africa – an introduction to South Africa, South African customs, rules and expectations, safety, travel opportunities in South Africa, introduction to your project and placement. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socializing.

After your orientation days volunteers will travel to Gansbaai where they will be based for the remainder of their duration and where volunteer work takes place.

Volunteer schedule example

First Day (after orientation)

On your first day of volunteering, you will be escorted to your placement by a local coordinator and introduced to the placement staff you will be working with.


Work and hours are dependent on the project and placement that each volunteer is working at, but a typical volunteer day might be as follows:

Morning Make your own breakfast at the volunteer house.
8:00 AM Volunteers leave home and travel to their placements.
1:00 - 2:30 PM Volunteers break for lunch (volunteers pack their own lunch with provisions provided).
2:30 - 5:00 PM Work at the placement usually ends around 5pm depending on the project. After their project work ends, volunteers are free to relax at the volunteer house, go sightseeing, or do some shopping.
7:00 PM Dinner at the volunteer house (volunteers prepare their own dinners, as a group, with provisions provided).

Please note: Every day (including weekends) is a working day, unless the weather conditions make it unsafe to go to sea or prior arrangements have been made by the coordinator. On Off-days activities/excursion can be planned by coordinator e.g. Day excursion to Hermanus, Cape Agulhas (most southern tip of Africa), Cave/mountain hikes, Horseback riding on beach, Beach clean-up’s etc.

Accommodation and WiFi

Accommodation is at the Marine Volunteer Center which has four cottages and a new building that can accommodate 40 persons with a shared sleeping arrangement. Bedding is provided and rooms are cleaned weekly (volunteers are expected to keep their room neat and today between cleanings). All cottages have a mini kitchen, but cooking is done in the central kitchen with adjacent dining room and sitting room. There is a lecture room, work space, pool and activity hall with some weights, table tennis table, pool table, foosball table and there is a variety of board games. Wi-Fi and satellite TV are also available.

The lodge is just 1.4km from where the volunteer work takes place, and whilst the local team have transport that moves volunteers daily, it is also an easy walk or cycle away. The lodge is also directly opposite the Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary location.

Please note: recycling is a priority at the lodge and volunteers are asked to keep this in mind while on the program.


Volunteers in Gansbaai receive two meals daily. Breakfast consists of cereals, fruit, yogurts, toast and spreads and volunteers prepare their own lunch with basic supplies provided. Lunch ingredients vary from cold to hot meals for example: wraps, salads, pasta dishes, sandwiches.

Volunteers receive weekly transport into town so that they can purchase essentials and food items for dinner. Volunteers usually cook meals such as a traditional BBQ (braai), stews, chicken dishes, etc for dinner.


  • USD

Spots are limited. For a Registration Fee of just US$329 (approximately CA$476) you secure your spot and unlock all our preparation and training tools.

You don't need to worry about paying your Program Fee until you get closer to your start date.

Program Fee
Due 30 days before you start, or within 48 hours if you register inside of 30 days. Covers the cost of hosting you.
  • USD
2 weeks $1,276 Equivalent to $91/day
3 weeks $1,766 Equivalent to $84/day
4 weeks $2,096 Equivalent to $75/day
5 weeks $2,251 Equivalent to $64/day
6 weeks $2,641 Equivalent to $63/day
8 weeks $3,479 Equivalent to $62/day
10 weeks $4,317 Equivalent to $62/day
12 weeks $5,154 Equivalent to $61/day
16 weeks $6,830 Equivalent to $61/day
20 weeks $8,505 Equivalent to $61/day
24 weeks $10,180 Equivalent to $61/day
  • All programs attract a Registration Fee of US$329 (approximately CA$476) in addition to the Program Fee. This covers all pre-departure support services.
  • A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
  • Recommended spending money: Volunteers in South Africa generally find US$80 per week to be sufficient for expenses.
  • Meals
  • Airport pick-up
  • Transport to and from your placement
  • Accommodation
  • 24/7 in-country support
  • In-country program orientation
  • Pre-departure support from your Program Manager
  • Personalized preparation tools, guides and check lists
  • Access to IVHQ’s preferred insurance and flights partners
  • Certificate of International Volunteer Service

Learn more about what's included in your IVHQ Registration Fee and Program Fee.

  • Airport drop off
  • Flights
  • Visa (if required), travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check.
  • Personal spending money for snacks, laundry, public transportation, drinks and leisure activities during your free time.

Check what's required to visit South Africa

Safety and support

Safety and support with IVHQ

Safety and support

IVHQ follows best practice and industry-leading health and safety procedures, which are regularly reviewed and optimized as part of the B Corporation recertification.

  • All volunteers encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training.
  • All local teams trained on best practice volunteer management & First Aid.
  • All IVHQ programs are required to adhere to IVHQ's Risk Management Policy.
  • All volunteers have access to 24/7 in-country support from our local team.
Learn more about IVHQ's safety

Essential country information

Essential country information

Capital Pretoria (Executive), Bloemfontein (Judicial), Cape Town (Legislative)
Population 58.56 million
Languages Afrikaans, English, Zulu, Xhosa, Swati, Tswana
Currency South African Rand (ZAR)
Time zone UTC+02:00

Weather and climate

The subtropical location, moderated by the Atlantic and Indian Oceans on three sides of the country and the altitude of the central plateau, are responsible for the warm temperatures typical of South Africa. Across much of the country, summer (December to February) is characterized by hot, sunny weather with temperatures averaging around 25°C (77°F). Winter (May to September) is cooler and drier with evening temperatures averaging around 10 °C (50°F). In Cape Town, sporadic showers and chilly winds are common during the winter months, but with daytime temperatures can average around 15°C (59°F).

Apply to check if you're eligible!

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