This practical research Internship offers students and graduates in marine sciences a rare and exceptional opportunity to work alongside and shadow an international team of Marine Biologists, in the Great White Shark capital of the world- Gansbaai, South Africa.
The programme has been built by the research team to combine both practical boat research experience and shore-based research to give interns a practical insight into the wide variety of techniques used by marine biologists today. During the programme you can get involved with all aspects of the research which includes, Great White Shark behavioural observations, photo ID and tagging and tracking of sharks, basic skippering experience and studies of the marine ecosystem.
As an intern, your personal research goals are reviewed before you start and, where possible will be accommodated in the programme. This is ideal for those undertaking a 3rd year dissertation, or post graduate research project.
Experience/ Qualifications required: Undergraduate or graduate in Marine Sciences, Oceanography or related subject with a strong academic record.
Nationalities: This programme is open to all nationalities (subject to visa requirements.)
Typical Hours: Monday-Friday; 6-8 hours per day; Weekends free for personal time and travel in South Africa
Remuneration: Unpaid position
|Dates of Departures||Duration||Price (Land Only)||Trip Status|
|3 June 2013||4 weeks||$3,979||Available||Book now|
|17 June 2013||4 weeks||$3,979||Available||Book now|
|1 July 2013||4 weeks||$3,979||Available||Book now|
|15 July 2013||4 weeks||$3,979||Available||Book now|
|5 August 2013||4 weeks||$3,979||Available||Book now|
|19 August 2013||4 weeks||$3,979||Available||Book now|
|2 September 2013||4 weeks||$3,979||Available||Book now|
|16 September 2013||4 weeks||$3,979||Available||Book now|
|7 October 2013||4 weeks||$3,979||Available||Book now|
|21 October 2013||4 weeks||$3,979||Available||Book now|
|4 November 2013||4 weeks||$3,979||Available||Book now|
|18 November 2013||4 weeks||$3,979||Available||Book now|
|2 December 2013||4 weeks||$3,979||Available||Book now|
|16 December 2013||4 weeks||$3,979||Available||Book now|
This is an outstanding opportunity for Marine Scientists to set thier CV aside with some truely exceptional research experience and training. Each internship can be tailored to your individual research objectives within the existing research programme. Here's a taste of the types of programmes on offer with the team.
Tagging and Tracking
The first white shark tagged in South Africa was in 2009, where ‘Sarika’ a 4.2m female was spotted in the shallows. For the next two months we manually tracked her on our dedicated research vessel, to within meters of the beach and up to the edge of Dyer Island. Sharks are externally tagged while free swimming and manually tracked using ultrasonic pings from the tag which are picked up by a receiver on the boat. We shadow the sharks’ movements up and down the bay. We are investigating the effect of environmental parameters on the localised movements and predatory foraging on prey species. As members of the research team, interns assist us in both tagging and tracking expeditions as well as processing the data.
Dorsal fin identification
Each sharks fin is unique, and with bait and chum, images can be captured of the sharks fin and matched to our database. Such information is crucial to calculate population estimates for great white sharks on a local, national and global scale. Our catalogue dates back to 2007 and is likely the most extensive on the species with a dedicated effort for everyday we work with these animals. Interns will assist with this project by learning photo editing techniques as well as cataloguing.
Geyser Rock is home to a Cape fur seal colony of some 55-60,000 individuals and each year this huge abundance draw white sharks to feed. The predation pressure on the seals is immense, and simply by being in the area the sharks shape the movements of the seals before they even begin to attack. The ecology of fear examines what extent this presence plays in the day to day lives of the seals. By dedicatedly observing and quantifying the seals’ movement patterns, we are further understanding the influence of dynamic predators in ecosystems. You will have the opportunity to join Michelle, one of our researchers on surveys around Dyer Island and deep into Shark Alley where seals play the game of predator vs. prey; a game in which you either win or you die!
Whale watching and shark cage diving
The organisation is assisted by two commercial companies who offer shark cage diving, whale watching and eco-trips year-round. We use these trips as unique opportunities to gather data and further our understanding of the wildlife in the bay. Already we have observed wound healing in white sharks, predatory interactions between sharks and dolphin and the long term effect of satellite tagging on the sharks dorsal fins. You will have the opportunity to help gather data from these commercial trips and even help the guides and crew on the water. You will also have the opportunity to jump in yourself and experience these apex predators up close and personal!
Because we are located between two oceans, the Atlantic and Indian Ocean we see dramatic changes in the environmental parameters on both a seasonal and day to day bases. As warm water from the east (in the Agulhas current) meets cold water from the west (in the cold and upwelling Benguela current) mixing occurs and we have an abundance of nutrients and biodiversity. Changes can dramatically impact the wildlife in the bay from the fish species we observe to the amount of sharks, whales and dolphin we encounter. Alison’s PhD hinges on decoding these complex relationships and interns will be fully trained in the deployment and interpretation of YSI probes measuring oxygen, salinity and temperature of the water column.
We have a range of community projects that we support and that you can be a part of, from teaching kids from the local schools about the Marine Big 5 (dolphins, whales, seals, sharks and penguins) to cleaning up beaches and assisting the making and deployment of penguin houses and fishing line bins.
Situated near Cape Agulhas, the southern tip of Africa,Klein Bay is an extraordinary marine environment. At the centre of the Bay, Dyer Island is the home of about 60,000 Cape Fur Seals attracting one of the densest and most accessible populations of Great White Sharks in the world. The clear waters and relatively small area make shark sightings a daily occurrence throughout the year with a peak in the Southern Hemisphere winter (May-September). Despite their large numbers and the frequent sightings, little research has been conducted on this Great White Shark population.
The organisation is filling this knowledge gap with an intensive programme of research conducted from the cage diving boat, and a dedicated research boat from which our marine biologists study important aspects of shark behaviour. Our work has been presented at international conferences.
The Bay is also a vitally important breeding area for endangered Southern Right Whales which migrate from their feeding grounds in Antarctica to mate and breed here from July-December.
About 800 adult whales are seen annually. Fortunately, boat-based access to these animals is strictly controlled with only a limited number of licences being given to responsible tour operators. Our eco-tourism partner offers some of the best boat-based whale watching in the world.
In addition to Southern Right Whales there are resident populations of Humpback and Bryde’s whales as well as large pods of Bottlenose and Common dolphins. Dyer Island has one of the few remaining breeding colonies of the vulnerable African Penguin around the coast of the Cape. The habitat of these charming birds was largely destroyed in the 19th and early 20th centuries when guano was stripped from the islands thus removing the soft ground into which the penguins could burrow. As a result, eggs and chicks are now exposed to predators and the elements. Together with overfishing and marine pollution, this has caused the population to fall by 90% in the last 100 years and it is now at an all-time low.
Step 1: Application
To apply for this internship we ask you to either call us or apply online. When you apply we will request information on your emergency contact details, passport number and your health background and other important information. At this stage a deposit payment of £199 is requested, this deposit is non-refundable, unless your application is declined by our team in South Africa.
Once your application has been recieved we will request the following details from you.
• A current CV /resume detailing your work and study history
• A cover letter outlining your key objectives you plan to achieve during your Internship
Please note: If your internship is part of your university course, and requires accreditation we also request a letter from your tutor supporting your application for an internship.
Step 2: Acceptance of your placement
Once our team in South Africa have reviewed your application, and accepted you onto the programme for your preferred dates we will contact you to confirm your application has been successful. We recommend you purchase insurance as soon as you secure your placement.
Step 3: Online account details
Once your placement has been secured, we will set up and send you details of your online account login which will take you to your personal Real Gap secure website. Here you can view details of your internship, along with info specific to your time in South Africa. This includes; what to expect during your time in South Africa, what to take with you, country and visa information and details such as insurance and where to get necessary vaccinations. Once you have your login details you can go ahead and book flights, to do this please contact your travel advisor who will give you a quote.
In the run up to your placement, our expert team will be here to answer any questions you may have and to fully prepare you for your time in South Africa.
On your ‘off-sea’ days, there are dozens of trips and excursions in the area, which is known as one of the most scenic destinations in the world, such as wine tasting, visiting the most Southern point of Africa, the highest bungee jump in the world and much more. Gansbaai is a quiet village and evenings can be spent in one of the nice pubs or restaurants, but there are no nightclubs or cinemas. Our internship co-ordinator can help you arrange activities (at an additional cost) some of which are listed below.
Take up the relaxing opportunity to explore the valley on horseback along rambling trails through the Walker Bay Whale Conservancy. The ride will take you through a private nature reserve along the Klein River and up into the Kleinriviersberg Mountains. They can be for one to four hours and are tailored to suit riders of all abilities.
This quad biking trail takes you around the historical Robert Stanford Wine Estate through vineyards and thick bush just wide enough for your quad bike to ride through. The trail finishes with a short but steep drop which, with assistance from the guide, riders take on one-by-one. More steep climbs and drops await, head up a waterway and make sure you counter-balance on the impressively sharp angles. If you need even more excitement after your shark encounters then this is a must.
Join a magical Whale Watching trip and encounter a whale longer and wider than the boat you are on! This huge, gentle and mysterious creature really is a magnificent site. The best time for Whale spotting is April-November.
No trip to South Africa is complete without a visit to Cape Town, home of the world famous Table Mountain and one of the most lively cities on the planet. If you are interested in history, you can go to Robben Island, where you can visit the prison where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated. There are also markets, botanical gardens, and cape of good hope, one of the most southerly points in Africa.
Info Packs include a full itinerary, country guides and travel advice on visas, money, insurance and the local weather. By filling in your details you'll also be kept updated on all the latest news, offers and stories on this particular trip. Happy reading!
You will be situated in Gansbaai – known as the “White Shark Capital of the World.” This is a small town which offers a wide range of services including well-stocked supermarkets, banks, etc. Gansbaai is about 30 minutes by road from the larger town of Hermanus which is an important tourist centre and about 2 hours drive from Cape Town. The surrounding area offers easy access to the Cape fynbos – one of the world’s most diverse eco-systems – and a number of tourist attractions and activities.
Accommodation is provided in a large, comfortable house close to our headquarters at the Great White House from which tours leave and research is co-ordinated. This house accommodates up to 8 interns in 4 rooms. This house is fully equipped for self-catering, laundry, etc. and has its own computer. It is heated and is maintained by a weekly housekeeper.
Meals are not included in the cost of the programme. We recommend that you budget between £200 / USD$360 per month on the programme.
Previous research experience or academic study is usual for individuals entering the programme. Preference will be given to those who possess a science background and have related experience, but it is not a requirement for application.
Most Interns are currently enrolled or have graduated from undergraduate or graduate research programmes in biological or environmental sciences.
However, we welcome applications from non-graduates who wish to develop their interest in the marine environment and its conservation.
You will be met at Cape Town International Airport and transferred to Gansbaai. There are direct flights from London, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Atlanta, and Dubai. Alternatively, you can transit via Johannesburg which has flights from most major cities in Europe as well as regular connections with the US and other parts of the world including Asia and Latin America.
On arrival you will be fully briefed by a co-ordinator and you will meet the research team who will be available throughout your stay.
Throughout your programmes you will have the support and guidance of the programme co-ordinator and team. You will be provided with competent assistance and help with any questions or advice you may need during your stay.
You will be assigned a personal travel advisor who will co-ordinate your programme with you. Feel free to contact them at any time before you go, or when you are on your travels.
In addition, you will have access to a 24 hour emergency contact number so you can contact one of our UK staff at any time should you need to.
This trip requires a Police Check to be carried out - please contact us for further information on how to do this.