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Great White Shark Research Internship in South Africa

Gain practical skills working on shark research, education and conservation projects in South Africa



The Shark Research Unit extends an invitation to individuals from all backgrounds to engage in shark research, education, conservation, and edu-tourism through our great white shark research internship program based in Mossel Bay, South Africa. Our internship program offers a diverse itinerary tailored to meet the varied expectations of participants. With a focus on experiential learning, the great white shark internship provides opportunities to observe and study great white sharks and other species inhabiting the region.

Aligned with our core objectives of education, public awareness, advancement of shark science, and conservation efforts for all shark species, the ultimate aim of the great white shark research internship is to foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of these remarkable animals. We eagerly welcome individuals who bring their skills and passion to contribute to the mission of understanding and conserving these incredible creatures.

Experience the thrill of a lifetime with our unmatched Great White Shark expeditions in Mossel Bay, South Africa. Immerse yourself in their world through carefully curated activities, offering a deep understanding of their behavior and habitat. Embark on cage diving ventures for face-to-face encounters with these magnificent predators. Capture their essence through photography and underwater videos, preserving memories indefinitely. During our Great white shark research internship, you will engage in behavioural observation studies to grasp their instincts and interactions. Beyond Mossel Bay, explore Plettenberg Bay’s Robberg Reserve for a bird’s-eye view scientific survey. Witness the sharks as they navigate the dynamic seal colony, providing insights into their hunting strategies. For closer encounters, opt for SCUBA or free diving expeditions to interact with shy sharks and catsharks. Navigate their underwater realm and connect with these fascinating species.

Our expeditions prioritize conservation and education. We dedicate two days  volunteering at the SAPREC bird rehabilitation center, contributing to the preservation of seabirds and marine ecosystems. Enrich your experience with an Introduction to Free Diving course, featuring immersive practical sessions. Develop skills that deepen your connection to the underwater world. Join us in Mossel Bay on our Great white shark research internship program and go beyond the ordinary. Gain insight, preserve memories, contribute to conservation, and form an unbreakable bond with the ocean’s most magnificent inhabitants. Your journey of discovery awaits.

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What are the program dates?
  • Program 1: 1 – 28 February
  • Program 2:  1 – 28 March
  • Program 3: 1 – 28 April
  • Program 4:  1 – 28 May
  • Program 5:  1 – 28 June
  • Program 6:  1 – 28 July
  • Program 7:  1 – 28 August
  • Program 8:  1 – 28 September
  • Program 9:  1 – 28 October
  • Program 10:  1 – 28 November
What training will I receive?

Attending the Great White Shark Research Internship Program is an investment in your career. No matter your current expertise, you will be working toward improving your employability by mastering new social skills, gaining further technical expertise, and potentially earning additional qualifications. We have helped many of our Alumni discover, move toward, and earn their personal dream jobs, be in shark research, ecotourism, underwater filmmaking or conservation. Our program includes introductory workshops, ongoing eLearning presentations, as well as on-the-ground support provided by our very own trained scientists.

Photographic Identification

Master the photographic skills required to produce mark recapture data on a variety of shark species. This includes establishing the camera settings to ensure clean, sharp and valuable identification photographs.

Visual Tags

Train in the skills to safely and ethically place visual ‘mark recapture’ tags on ragged tooth sharks and small endemic shy sharks.

Behavioural Ethograms

Develop and employ behaviour ethograms to understand the behaviour and social interaction of shark species. Including great white sharks, ragged tooth sharks and others.

eDNA Sampling

Learn to conduct and process environmental genetic sampling procedures to detect the diversity and concentration of different shark species in the target area.

Education officer

Develop skills to be an effective education communicator who can inform and entertain tourism guests during shark ecotourism expeditions.

Seabird Rehabilitation 

Train in providing care and husbandry of oiled and entangled seabirds at the SANPREC seabird rescue centre.

What projects do we work on?

Great White Shark Population. Monitor and determine the local population of great white sharks using photo identification of dorsal fins, pigmentation patterns, and additional measures (e.g. CPUE) collected through citizen science research on white shark cage diving tourism vessels.

Predator-prey techniques. Conduct visual observations and utilise behavioural ethograms to describe and assess the predator-prey dynamics of great white sharks and Cape fur seals.

eDNA. Contribute to the genetic profiling of the resident great white shark population through environmental DNA sampling.

Diversity assessment. Monitor shark abundance and diversity on local reefs through observation recreational dives.

Tracking. Contribute to ORI shark tracking studies using visual tags. These studies were conducted on sharks other than great white sharks under project guidelines of the Oceanographic Research Institute (ORI).

Beach & reef clean. Assist in our biweekly efforts to keep the beaches and reef systems of Mossel Bay clean with dedicated cleanups.

Seabird rehabilitation. Contribute biweekly to the husbandry and maintenance of injured and oiled seabirds by volunteer working with the SAPREC foundation

Stop shark fining campaign. Assist in our ongoing online social media awareness campaigns fighting for the cease of unregulated shark fishing and the practice of shark fining.

Save shark’s production. Host and produce our monthly podcast and vlog series highlighting the conservation needs and efforts of sharks throughout the world.

Tourism educator. Adopt the role of educator on great white shark ecotourism expeditions. Ensure that cage diving is presented correctly and guests depart as ambassadors for shark conservation.

Learner educator. Travel with the team as we visit schools throughout South Africa’s garden route and engage with learners on the importance of ocean and shark conservation.

Visitor Education. Join in on our biweekly presentations on shark research and conservation to tourists visiting Mossel Bay. Enjoy these evenings of education and enlightenment at some of the town’s top hotels.

What does the fee cover?

Comprehensive Training Programs

Elevate your skills and knowledge with our diverse range of training courses tailored to your interests and aspirations.

Guided Expert Training Onsite

Benefit from hands-on, expert-led training sessions conducted right at our facility. Our experienced professionals ensure you gain practical skills that are both valuable and immediately applicable.

Thrilling Great White Shark Excursions (Subject to Weather)

Experience the apex predators of the ocean up close during our captivating Great White Shark trips. Note that these expeditions are subject to weather conditions for your safety and comfort.

Plettenberg Bay White Shark Expedition

Participate in our unique land observation expedition in Plettenberg Bay during the peak shark season. Witness the great white sharks in their natural habitat from a new perspective.

SCUBA and Free Diving Shark Expeditions

Dive into the depths and encounter these majestic creatures on SCUBA or free diving trips. Immerse yourself in their world while adhering to safety protocols and responsible practices.

Seabird Rehabilitation Conservation Journeys

Make a meaningful difference by joining our conservation trips dedicated to seabird rehabilitation. Contribute firsthand to the protection of these vital marine species.

Engaging Learner Awareness Trips

For those eager to learn, our awareness trips offer an immersive educational experience. Gain insights into marine conservation and ecology through engaging activities and discussions.

Introduction to Freediving Course

Embark on a journey of discovery with our Introduction to Freediving course.

Comfortable Accommodation (Dormitory Style)

Rest and recharge in our comfortable dormitory-style accommodations. Connect with fellow participants in a relaxed and welcoming environment.

Delicious and Nutritious Meals

Indulge in three daily meals that cater to your culinary preferences: enjoy a continental breakfast, a hearty cooked lunch, and a satisfying cooked dinner.

Stay Connected with Internet Access

Stay in touch with the world with included internet access, allowing you to share your experiences and stay updated during your stay.

Effortless Local Transport

We’ve got your transportation needs covered, including airport shuttles. Experience seamless travel arrangements that ensure you focus on what truly matters – your enriching experience with us.

    • International Flights
    • Travel Insurance
    • Laundry
    • Weekend experiences
    • Additional drinks and food
    • Souvenirs
    • Single Accommodation (optional addon)
    • Specialized meal plan (optional
How long is the program?

The Great white shark research internship program consists of both on-site and off-site work. Before arrival in South Africa, participants are required to complete a two-week online eLearning program aimed at grounding you in the theoretical skills required to enable you to make a meaningful contribution to the program. Onsite, participants can participate for a minimum period of 1 month and a maximum period of three months.

Do I require a visa?

No. You will not be employed by the Shark Research Unit nor paid. On this internship you are entitled to enter on a temporary visitors permit (e.g. tourism permit). Tourist visiting visas are usually issued for three months/90 days upon entry in South Africa. However, we do recommend that you contact the South African Embassy or Consulate in your country and confirm this fact.  If you plan to travel in South Africa prior or after the course for a period extending 90 days, you will have to apply for a Volunteer VISA application through your home embassy.

Quickly evaluate the visa status of your country when visiting South Africa here 

Where do I stay?

White Shark Research Interns will stay at our luxury shark center for the duration of the program. The facility offers single sex dorm accommodation or single private accommodation if you request. Catered daily meals will be provided throughout your stay.

Address – 182 Aalwyn Way, aalwyndal, Mossel Bay, South Africa

What must I pack?

If you are getting ready to pack to join our Great white shark research internship, here is a rough packing list of items you should consider bringing.


  • Work clothes. Bring what you are comfortable in, but ensure that you have warm, strong work clothing of neutral colours, solid work shoes such as hiking boots or trainers, a good sun hat with a wide brim and a warm hat/beanie. Gloves can be helpful for early mornings. Bring a tracksuit or something similar to lounge around in during the evenings, which can get cold. Also, face buffs help keep off the cold in the evenings.
  • Social clothes. Mossel Bay is a small town, so social clothing should reflect a casual, non-formal style.
  • A swimming costume.

 Video and electronic gear

You are more than welcome to bring any personal videography or photographic equipment, however, this is totally optional. 


  • Covid negative test results
  • Toiletries &  strong sunscreen (there are also plenty of shops to purchase from).
  • Prescription medication.
  • Passport & photocopy of passport.
  • Bank cards (inform your bank of your travels).
  • Spare cash.
  • Phone & cables.


  • Accommodation address – 182 Aalwyn Way, Aalwyndal, Mossel Bay.
Where must I fly to?

The closest domestic airport is George Airport (George). Guests must arrive at the airport from where a shuttle will be waiting on the 1st and 28th of each month. Transfers to and from the airport are included in the program package unless you arrive or depart on different days.

Do I need travel / medical insurance?

When you are accepted into this internship program, you will have to sign liability, copyright documents, as well an agreement that you are knowingly partaking in potentially dangerous activities. You will not be covered for accidents, breakages, theft or illnesses, so please do organize your own medical and travel insurances. Chances that you will be injured by a shark are very slim if you follow the safety guidelines, and do not try anything foolish of which we would not approve. However, you will be working in an ocean environment which can result in accidents. So it is important to be covered in case of an emergency or accident. Be sure to have an insurance cover for your entire stay in Southern Africa.

How does the catering work?

On the Great white shark research internship program, catering is supplied daily with three nutritious meals. A cooked breakfast and dinner, with a light lunch. If the team is out and about during lunch, we will have a packed lunch that was prepared in the morning.

Do I need Malaria or other medication?

South Africa is far from Malaria areas, and there are no strange African diseases which you could pick up (that is if you respect the same safety rules as anywhere else in the world).

Please ensure that you bring any medication required. If you will require medication whist in South Africa, please contact us to ensure that it is available.

Lucy Pavlik
Research Intern

Nico and Sophu were the most amazing instructors. I learned so much from them and they truly kept such a positive environment. They are both so knowledgeable on their subjects and have a great way of going about teaching.

Robert Hollocher
September 2023

Had an absolute blast with the team and all that we did! Nico was incredible in every way, and made this whole thing just that much better. Not only did he make every day an adventure, but he was so very knowledgeable and helpful and accessible throughout the program! Truly a star.

Quinton Cohen
September 2022

It has been incredible I have had so much fun diving and learning. Nico has an amazing way of teaching where he constantly will just start a lesson and explain something we just saw or have heard about but let’s  each of us have our own adventures because we all learn differently.. over all an amazing adventure and learning experience

Ciara Maher
July 2022

Had an amazing time here so much so that I’m staying another month!! Nico has been amazing and have definitely learned a lot from him. Looking forward to the next month here 🙂

  • Comprehensive Training Programs
  • Guided Expert Training Onsite
  • Thrilling Great White Shark Excursions
  • Plettenberg Bay White Shark Expedition
  • SCUBA and Free Diving Shark Expeditions
  • Seabird Rehabilitation Conservation Journeys
  • Engaging Learner Awareness Trips
  • Introduction to Freediving Course
  • Comfortable Accommodation
  • Delicious and Nutritious Meals
  • Stay Connected with Internet Access
  • Flights (international/domestic)
  • DAN Insurance / Travel Insurance
  • Staff / Crew gratuities
  • Alcohol and Snacks
  • Laundry service
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$3500 / 28 nights

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Shark Research Unit

Marine Research Institute

The Shark Research Unit, situated in Mossel Bay, South Africa, is a committed private institute focused on marine research. It provides internships for aspiring marine scientists, educators, and conservationists, enabling them to acquire valuable skills in studying great whites and various other shark and marine species, thus contributing to scientific advancement and conservation
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