Sharklife Conservation Internship


"This well rounded program is suited to shark enthusiasts of all levels" 



Established in 2005 as a non-profit organisation, Sharklife works to address the alarming exploitation of both shark populations and ocean fisheries in South African waters. Our marine internship programs aim to nurture shark conservation ambassadors through knowledge development, hands-on training and many hours on the ocean encountering a multitude of marine wildlife. This marine internship is best suited to early career marine biologists looking to focus on sharks. 

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Key Benefits:

  • Get close to sharks
  • Get an accredited Freediving certification
  • Be involved in marine research projects
  • Develop watermanship skills
  • Examine real shark and ray specimens 
  • Encounter diverse marine mega fauna
  • Dive in warm clear ocean environments
  • Visit nearby Big 5 Game Reserves (optional extra +-$100)
  • Study in a World Heritage Site
  • Support a long standing non-profit shark conservation organisation


"The overall goal of the program is to imprint a deeper understanding of the shark species in the minds of participants" 


Program Components:

The core two week training program consists of five main components which build your knowledge and skills through theory, practical exercises and time in the ocean.  


  1. Watermanship -  Develops your all round ability to work in ocean environments 
  2. Shark and Ray Biology - Broadens your understanding of key areas of shark and ray biology
  3. Shark Identification and Behavior -  Enables you to identify sharks in the field and recognize different behaviors
  4. Shark Research Methodologies - Increases your understanding of shark research methods
  5. Shark Conservation and Advocacy -  Empowers you to promote shark conservation ideals objectively

skills chart 3

Additional Activities:

If you decide to stay longer (see program details below) you will become more involved in research projects and given more responsibilities in day to day activities.

  • Develop and plan ongoing research projects
  • Continued participation in field work 
  • Assist with educating local school groups
  • Prepare and maintain research equipment 
  • Prepare and maintain museum specimens


Program Details:

Location: Sodwana Bay, South Africa

As the project is based in a remote rural area there are extra expenses involved. Nonetheless we have tried our best to balance the costs to make your trip both affordable and comfortable.

2 week program usd

1 month program usd3 month program usd 3

Fees Include:

  • Airport transfers 
  • Private room (1 twin room on full capacity)
  • Freediving Certification
  • Lectures, materials, certifications
  • Research/Boating expenses
  • Dive gear
  • Wifi
  • 24hr support  

Cost chart 2019

Food and Drinks:
There are daily trips to the local supermarket where all common food and beverages are available. There is a fully equipped kitchen to prepare your food or if you prefer catered food there are restaurants close by you can visit. 

Program Dates: for 2019/2020

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Location Details:

Sodwana Bay is located in Northern Kwa-Zulu Natal South Africa. The village borders the pristine world heritage site known as the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. The park is South Africa's third-largest protected area, spanning 280 km of coastline and is one of the top ten dive destinations in the world. The coral reefs contain over 1 200 species of fish as well as a variety of underwater seascapes and marine flora and fauna. Sodwana Bay is also a short drive from a selection of Big 5 Game Reserves which you can visit on your days off. More info >> Sodwana Bay - Wikipedia


Videos: Interns and Activities

Sharklife Internship
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Sharklife September
Sharklife October


Some FAQ's

  • What do I get from the program?
    1. Through the program you will gain bona-fide field experience with sharks and their environments.
    2. You will receive a freediving certification on completion of the Pure Apnea Adventure 1 program.
    3. Examining real shark and ray specimens is a rare opportunity and will greatly enhance your understanding of elasmobranch anatomy.
    4. By being involved in our research projects you will be exposed to varied research processes and methodologies. 
    5. Sodwana Bay is a remote rural town alongside South Africa's first world Heritage site and has some of the best diving in the world. 
    6. Your participation in our internships directly supports the shark conservation efforts of the organization. 

  • Who is the program for?

    Over 18’s, in good health, good swimming ability and an affinity for the ocean. If you are considering a career that involves being in the ocean, then this program will benefit you.

    For example:

    • Early career marine biologists
    • Marine field guides
    • Dive instructors/dm's/divers
    • Shark fanatics
    • Gap year students
    • Volunteers
  • Do I need a Scuba qualification?

    No, the ocean practicals are all snorkel based (bubbles scare sharks!).  You can learn to scuba dive or do some casual scuba dives on your off days.

    You will receive freediver training and certification from and accredited freediving instructor. This course will enable you to dive comfortably between 5-10m. 

  • Flight Details?

    You need to fly into Richards Bay Airport (RCB) via Johannesburg O.R Tambo Airport . (from March 2020)

    Sharklife World Flights

    A Sharklife staff member will pick you up from the airport on your arrival day.

  • What is available in Sodwana Bay?

    There are most products and services available within walking distance of the accommodation.

  • Do I need a Visa?

    Nationals of the following 48 countries/territories who hold valid national passports are not required to obtain South African visas for visits of up to 90 days:

    But please double check this as changes can occur at anytime. visit

    African Union Laissez PasserAfrican Union Laissez Passer
    Angola (ordinary passports 90 days per annum  visits not to exceed 30 days)
    Chile (only ordinary passport holders)
    Czech Republic
    Germany (except in diplomatic staff due to assume duty at the Embassy and Consulates of Germany in SA)
    Namibia (only ordinary passport holders 90 days per annum)
    Russian Federation     
    San Marino
    St Vincent & the Grenadines
    Tanzania (90 days per annum)
    Trinidad & Tobago (only ordinary passport holders)
    United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (only ordinary passport holders) 
    British Islands Bailiwick of Guernsey and Jersey, Isle of Man. British Oversees Territories namely: Anguilla, Bermuda, British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, St Helena and Dependencies (Ascension Island, Gough Island and Tristan da Cunha), Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands, the Sovereign Base Areas of Cyprus South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands and the Turks and Caicos Island.
    United States of America (except in respect of diplomatic staff due to assume duty at the Embassy and Consulates of the USA in SA, as well as service passport holders)
    Zambia (90 days per annum)

  • Deposit and Cancellation?
    • A non-refundable 50% deposit needs to be paid within one week of being accepted into the program.
    • The remaining fee must be paid in full 3 weeks prior to arrival date.
    • All cancellations within 3 weeks of arrival are non-refundable.
  • When is the best time?

    Although seasonal changes in Sodwana Bay are mild there is a change in the sea conditions and shark abundance during the year.

    Generally the best months are between Jan-July, but its not imperative.

  • A typical day?

    Your days will be divided into land days and ocean days, depending on weather conditions.

    Typical Land Day: 09:00-16:00

    Theory sessions are given in our auditorium using graphics, videos and models to enhance your theoretical understanding of sharks. Interns use this opportunity to ask questions and discuss prevalent conservation topics. Interns are also tasked with collating research data and developing reports and findings.

    We then move to the lab where we conduct various examinations of the specimens we have preserved, either frozen, dried or in solution. We currently have 4 coastal sharks (tiger, bull, raggie, hammerhead) and 3 ray species, which enable interns to get a feel of the various anatomical features.

    sharklife interns

    The rest of the day may be allocated to extra activities happening in the center at the time such as; assisting with school groups, museum display development, boat maintenance etc. 

    Typical Ocean Day: 07:00 - 14:00

    After preparing the boat and equipment for sea we head to the beach. Interns assist directly with all beach and boating logistics.  We launch through the surf and make our way along the coastline to the designated study area.  We conduct various in water surveys, record sightings data, location and environmental conditions. Interns get the opportunity to  develop seamanship skills and encounter a wide variety of marine life.

    shark interns

  • Typical day off?
    • The most popular free-time activity is a day trip to the Hluhluwe Umfolozi Big 5 Game Reserve. The park is home to Africa's big five game: elephant, rhinoceros (black/hook-lipped and white/square-lipped), Cape buffalo, lion and leopard. 

    lion umfolozi

    • You can just relax on the pristine beaches of Sodwana Bay.
    • For the more adventurous, you can embark on a microlight flight over the coastline.
    • There are also quad bike tours of the local lake systems and forests.
    • You can scuba dive on the world renowned reefs of Sodwana Bay.

    sodwana beach

  • Do I need vaccinations?

    Depending on where you are coming from there are a few vaccinations that you may need. Check the link below for more information.




 Have a question or would like to make a booking, let us know! Give us 24hrs to respond

Conservation Internship Booking Enquiry

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Sharklife Ocean Centre

Sodwana Bay, kwaZulu Natal
South Africa 3974

Ph: 035 571 0417