Interns in South Africa watching a shark swimming by

Your trip at a glance


  • Get to know South Africa’s incred­ible marine megafauna
  • Broaden your knowledge on research methods and marine ecology
  • Research white sharks, humpback dolphins and Southern right whales
  • Work together with leading marine biolo­gists
  • Take part in a recre­ational diving course
  • Enjoy living in the vibrant city of Mossel Bay
  • Explore South Africa’s nature and culture on weekend trips


Western Cape
Marine research internship in South Africa: close-up of a marine animal on the beach
An intern in South Africa is collecting data while on the research boat
Internship in South Africa: After a shark got observed in detail it will be released back into the ocean
Interns are baiting a shark to observe the animal and to collect essential data
A small shark is measured and released back into the water during a research internship in South Africa

Your research internship in South Africa

When participating in this fascinating internship programme you broaden your knowledge in undertaking crucial research on the diverse marine mega-fauna of Southern Africa, working together with an international team and leading marine biologists.

A wave tumbling down the shore of South Africa

Arrival and orien­ta­tion in South Africa

You need to book a flight to George Airport where you need to arrive on the first day of your internship. A staff member of our partner will pick you up and transfer you to the team base in Mossel Bay. After your arrival in the house, you can settle in, get to know your team and your surroundings and get some rest from your travels.

The second and third day of your internship is intended for an orientation and safety meeting, before the actual programme activities start on day 4.

Interns are baiting a shark to observe the animal and to collect essential data

Research topics of your intern­ship abroad

Throughout your internship, you and your team will deal with a variety of marine research topics – both in practice and theory. These topics include (may be dependent on season):

• Population assessments of different shark, fish and marine mammal species
• Habitat use of white sharks and marine mammals
• Population structure as well as trophic and movement ecology of catsharks

An intern in South Africa is collecting data while on the research boat

• Predator-prey behavioural strategies of white sharks and cape fur seals
• Shark stress physiology and behavioural studies
• Intertidal community study
• Ecological monitoring of rivers
• Marine Mammal Stranding Response workshop

At month end, each student gives a research-based presentation.

Interns in South Africa measure a shark's fins to collect important data

At the end of your stay, you will have gained valuable know-how on seamanship and crew living, on maintaining research boats and scientific equipment, on marine wildlife catching and handling techniques, on tagging and release methods, on different equipment use (e.g. ROV, BRUV, drones) and on data collection and analysis.

Research work starts around 07:00 AM and ends around 06:00 PM. Please keep in mind that daily tasks are always dependent on prevailing weather conditions and nature of activity. We therefore ask you to be open-minded, patient and able to adapt to shifting circumstances.

Interns in South Africa are collecting data during their marine conservation internship

Accom­mo­da­tion in Mossel Bay

Together with other interns and project staff, you will live in a house in Mossel Bay. You’ll sleep in a gender-specific dormitory, equipped with bunk beds, and use shared bathrooms. The house also has a kitchen, a lounge and a large patio with a sitting area and barbecue facilities. You’ll receive three meals per day – breakfast, lunch and dinner. Whereas breakfast is prepared by the entire team, lunch and dinner will be cooked by the project’s chef.

Internship in South Africa: After a shark got observed in detail it will be released back into the ocean

Leisure time during your intern­ship

While Monday to Friday is intended for training, your weekends are usually free. Our partner offers organised trips, for example to Cape Town, Plettenberg Bay, or game reserves. For an additional fee that needs to be paid on-site you are more than welcome to join these trips.

Internship in South Africa: Collection of mussels on a tranquil beach

But as your base is in the vivid city of Mossel Bay, you can enjoy lots of other leisure activities as well. Relax at the beach, visit shops, restaurants and museums or go on cultural excursions. Furthermore, you get the chance to take part in a recreational diving course and obtain an official qualification (Padi Open Water, Padi Advanced Open Water or Padi Rescue).

FAQ – Learn more about this trip

Learn what others say about their Natucate adventure.

Review Volunteering South Africa Zululand – Mario

“I really loved being in nature/in the bush each day and being able to enjoy so many unforgettable animal sightings – and, of course, meeting so many nice people and learning a lot of new things.”

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Review Field Guide Level 1 South Africa – Nadine

“All of my expectations were fulfilled, as I received a very good overview of the course beforehand and was able to clarify all questions in advance.”

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Review Volunteering Seychelles North Island – Marco

“I especially liked nature and the people on North Island. They are like a huge family and welcome you immediately.”

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  • reiseorte-suedafrika-westkap-mossel-bay-meer-natucate
    1. Western Cape

    Western Cape is a province of South Africa, located in the southwest of the Republic. It borders both the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian Ocean. Its capital is Cape Town. In particular, a visit to the countless national parks and nature reserves reveals the scenic diversity and biodiversity of the Western Cape.

    Numerous representatives of the African animal world can be found in Western Cape – on land and underwater. In addition to the rich fauna, the diverse flora of the region can also be admired, as it is home to the world-famous Fynbos biome, an ecological zone divided into different types of vegetation.

Background of your intern­ship in South Africa

Southern Africa’s wildlife, including its marine world, is incredibly diverse. As in other parts of the world, the marine environment of Southern Africa is in need of constant research and conservation measures, especially nowadays as climate change and environmental pollution are taking their toll on the planet’s ecosystems.

Our partner’s programme provides and facilitates innovative, dynamic and interdisciplinary research relevant to the management and conservation of Southern Africa’s megafauna, including sharks and marine mammals. Aspiring researchers, from internship to postgraduate levels, get the chance to broaden their technical knowledge through multi-disciplinary practical and theoretical training – as part of in-house research projects as well as projects in other biomes of Southern Africa.

An outstanding opportunity for national and international students to receive hands-on research training in one of the most fascinating corners on Planet Earth.


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