Are you passionate about marine life or do you want to work in the marine biology field? Volunteering side-by-side with a dedicated team of experts, you can help raise awareness about marine issues while getting hands-on experience looking after injured sea creatures. 

The project

This marine biology project is a transitional home for injured marine life and animals for short-term research. With 3,000 sea animals at the project – including sharks, turtles, penguins and fish – this project is home to a precious diversity of sea life hailing from the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian Ocean. Found inside an aquarium on Cape Town’s coastline, the project helps to educate the public about marine conservation issues, while rehabilitating marine animals behind the scenes.

An increasing number of marine animals are washing up on the South African coastline due to pollution and other human influences. This project has gained international recognition for its work but receives no funding, instead relying on its committed team to continue its work. Volunteers play a crucial role in helping to care for the injured animals and raising awareness of the project’s exceptional work.

As a volunteer at the Cape Town marine biology project, your days will be spent helping the project’s team, whose diverse skills range from architecture to psychology as well as marine biology. You’ll help clean the aquarium’s displays, prepare food and feed some of the animals, including the penguins, turtles and fish. You’ll generally be tasked with keeping all the project’s inhabitants happy. If animals need to be rescued, or released once they’re back to health, you’ll also get involved with this. You’ll become an ambassador for marine life, sharing your knowledge with those who visit the aquarium, including school groups. If there are any special research projects going on at the time of your visit, you’ll also have the opportunity to help out with these too.

Location

Cape Town, South Africa.

Voluntary work

Cleaning aquarium exhibits, preparing food and feeding the animals, building new exhibits, analysing animal behaviour, rescuing and releasing animals, accompanying guided tours in the aquarium and teaching school groups.

Programme starts

Mondays.

Volunteering hours

7am to 3pm, with a lunch break from 1pm to 2pm.

Requirements

Minimum age 18, ability to speak English, travel insurance, ability to lift a 20kg bucket, ability to swim.

Accommodation

Private room in a shared volunteer house, shared bathrooms, fully equipped shared kitchen, Wi-Fi available at an extra cost.

Food

Shared cooking facilities available – you should budget to spend approximately 60€ per week on food.

Airport pickup

Pickup at Cape Town International Airport (CPT) on the specified arrival date.

Donation to the project

Included in the rate.

Training

In-country orientation, briefing at the marine biology project.

Support

Pre-departure information, local in-country support and 24 hour emergency support.

In addition, you need to arrange:

  • Flights to Cape Town
  • Visa (if necessary) – can be purchased on arrival at the airport
  • Travel insurance (necessary)
  • Vaccinations (please contact your GP or a travel medical clinic)
  • Additional recreational activities
  • Return transfer to the airport

Contact us with your desired travel dates.

Duration

4 to 12 weeks.

Your days will be full of activity, helping care for marine animals and keeping the project running efficiently. When working with animals on a daily basis, you’ll soon notice their unique behaviours and get a sense of their characters and needs.

You’ll be staying in a private room in a shared house for volunteers in Cape Town, with self-catering facilities so you can prepare your own meals.

Unless you sign up for additional duties, you’ll be volunteering from Monday to Friday, leaving your weekends free to explore Cape Town and South Africa more broadly. There’s a lot to see and do in Cape Town alone, from Table Mountain and the Cape of Good Hope, to exploring the beaches and markets. You can also sign up for a surfing course on Muizenberg Beach if you need more ocean time.

Volunteers become proud advocates of this important marine project after spending some time there, and many go on to explore future careers in marine biology.