Experience the majestic South African coast where you will be directly involved in the conservation of South Africa’s Marine Big 5: whales, sharks, seals, penguins and dolphins. Get involved and learn how individuals can make a difference on the ground.
Where: Gansbaai, Western Cape, South Africa
You will be immersed in the activities of a marine conservationist – volunteer with marine scientists and experts while being exposed to some of the world’s most iconic marine species.
Participate on a research vessel and learn about shark identification, collect important data on estuarine birds, collect shark eggs on the beach and learn about ongoing monitoring studies of the Marine Big 5. Be exposed to cutting edge marine research with well respected scientists and learn about key challenges and debates being tackled in the marine sector. All data collected will feed into the research studies being conducted by the conservation agencies in the area.
Different activities are undertaken depending on the needs at the time, but will include exposure to a wide range of projects aimed at protecting the marine environment. Activities are likely to include helping out at the penguin sanctuary, building fishing line bins that are then distributed along the coast to prevent pollution, beach clean-ups and engaging in marine awareness programmes. There may also be opportunities to be exposed to unique conservation activities that are happening at the time, such as animal rescues or releases, but this is not guaranteed.
This is the only coastline in the world where you will have the opportunity to observe five iconic marine species: great white sharks, southern right whales, dolphins, cape fur seals and the endangered African penguin. Historically, this has been one of the most accessible populations of great white sharks in the world! While some sightings are seasonal, boat trips will give you an excellent opportunity for wildlife viewing at sea.
AWARENESS & EDUCATION
Engage with young learners in the adjacent community to expose them to marine science and the beauty of the marine environment. Work together and get excited about marine conservation and the role that each individual can play to make a real difference on the ground. You could be inspiring future leaders!
Learn about marine species big and small – from the tiny intertidal creatures to the massive whale – the world’s largest marine mammal. You will have the opportunity to engage in discussions with experts on a wide diversity of topics – from the impact of climate change on the marine environment to the specific challenges facing different marine species. In addition, you will have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to shark-cage dive! While contributing to shark identification, it also exposes you to the role of ecotourism in furthering the objectives of conservation. If time permits, there is also star-gazing, a documentary night and a local hike.
Fully equipped cottages are available that include a bathroom and small kitchen to keep your snacks. There is also a large communal area that is the perfect place for unwinding between activities or in the evening. It has a large lounge, entertainment area with foosball, board games and pool table, and there is a lovely swimming pool in the garden. All meals are provided and are likely to include a braai and a pizza night!
OBJECTIVES & IMPACT
Youth 4 Conservation partners with a local marine conservation organisation that works in the Gansbaai area and has received numerous awards and accolades in relation to their internationally recognised research and conservation initiatives. We have established a collaboration with the joint interest of exposing youth to the power of the marine environment and inspiring them to become future marine scientists and/or active citizens in protecting this fragile ecosystem.
All activities undertaken in this youth volunteer programme will directly contribute to the objectives of our partner, whether it is collecting data for existing research studies, participating in conservation projects or engaging with young learners in adjacent communities.
Our ultimate goal is to catalyse the youth to understand and engage in marine conservation issues – ultimately making a real contribution to the future of our seas, the species that live there, and the people whose livelihoods depend on it.
Photos courtesy of Marine Dynamics Academy