Learn to dive or improve whilst contributing to whale shark, turtle and manta ray research in Sodwana Bay; one of the world’s prime dive locations. Join an active research team and assist their contribution to global marine conservation.
Volunteers assist with several research projects within the iSamangaliso marine park, these may include:
Volunteers learn various skills while in the marine camp, including the use of underwater camera equipment for photographic databases and identification techniques.
If you are a beginner diver you will complete your PADI Open Water training during your first week. Qualified Open Water divers are given the opportunity to complete a PADI Advanced Open Water course. Advanced level divers can choose to complete one course from a range of dive specialty courses (e.g. Deep Diver, Nitrox, Peak Performance Buoyancy, etc) or the Rescue Diver course.
You will volunteer for 5 days per week. Generally volunteers conservation work at 7am and finish at 2pm with breaks throughout the day. Evenings will often be spent in ecology lectures or training for dive courses.
There are usually 4 – 8 volunteers at the project at any one time, with a maximum of 8.
Read about volunteer experiences and challenges in our South Africa Marine Conservation reviews.
Research and data collection is labour intensive, so volunteers are an essential part of the project.
Volunteers help to document various types of megafauna, as well as assisting in the collection of basic environmental and behavioral data. Volunteers contribute to Citizen Science ID databases which is a platform used to centralise knowledge about the biodiversity of southern Africa’s fauna and flora.
Volunteers also upload all data and photographs and personal sightings they collect to global databases.
"As well as being essential for data collection, volunteers are future conservationists who are being exposed to the wonders of the underwater world and raising awareness on marine conservation."Johan, Project Coordinator
The project’s primary objective is to monitor the fauna and flora of Sodwana Bay, part of the iSamangaliso Wetland Park which is South Africa’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The project collects biodiversity data and monitors species distribution on the reef. This data is used to identify migratory patterns and population densities in the area. Research is also focused on whether environmental conditions affect sighting rates. Turtles, rays, sharks and groupers make up the majority the research, however volunteers also record sightings of endemic, iconic and rarely seen species.
The project also work with the local community to teach them about the importance of protecting these marine ecosystems.
Sodwana Bay is one of the world’s prime dive locations and its world-renowned coral reefs are frequently rated in the top five global dive destinations.
The volunteer house is in the local village, 10 minutes away from the beach. Volunteers stay in a cabin which may be shared with 1 other volunteer. There is a fully equipped kitchen in the main house, food is provided by the project, but volunteers cook their own meals. The house has an indoor lounge area with TV and DVD player and there are large gardens and a swimming pool on site for volunteers to relax during their free time.
There is internet available for a small additional cost.
During your free time you are encouraged to explore the local area, which includes some of South Africa’s most beautiful beaches. You may also wish to explore the variety of tourist attractions in the area, these include bird sanctuaries, game and nature reserves, whale watching, bungee jumping, surfing, sky diving and much more.
Not included: Flights, travel insurance, visa (if required). Budgeting guidance is provided in our Volunteering Guide which we will email you when you apply.
|2 weeks||£1195||GB Pounds|
|1 month||£1695||GB Pounds|
|Each additional 2 weeks||£595||GB Pounds|
Fees in currencies other than GBP are indicative only and volunteers are invoiced in GBP. For current exchange rates please see www.xe.com
sea turtle sightings this year
"Pod is a no nonsense volunteer organisation looking to change lives"Cian
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“I liked the different lectures and presentations which convinced me to become a marine biologist. I also had loads of fun!”Read more volunteer reviews
“Sodwana Bay is the most beautiful place to dive. The people are really friendly and make you feel welcome, I don’t want to leave.”Read more volunteer reviews
“My stay was better than expected and the diving is the best in the world. The project is really cool and I would love to stay longer. I suppose I have to come back again.”Read more volunteer reviews