Marine Animals Project in South Africa

Volunteer at a foundation in Port Elizabeth to make an impact in marine conservation

Support the work of a foundation which is doing everything it can to create a better environment for all marine animals. You'll be involved in engaging work which will cover all sorts of different animals, including whales, dolphins, turtles. Volunteers are essential to providing the relevant hands on support to really make a difference.

Accommodation Included (Host Family or Shared Volunteer House)
Full Volunteer Placement of 2+ Weeks
Every Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Included
Airport Pickup & Transfer Available
Full In-Country Orientation
Complete Pre-Departure Travel Preparation
Placements Available from 4 weeks to 12 Weeks
Weekly Start Dates

The Project

The Issues & Workplace

South Africa is home to a diverse collection of animals and plants. This includes 43 species of marine mammals, which you can observe in their natural habitat. However, numerous species are threatened with extinction due to pollution or the overfishing of the oceans, caused by humans. According to the environmental organisation WWF, the white shark is now on the list of endangered species. Some whale species are also seriously endangered and these animals need our help. At the marine protection project site in Port Elizabeth, our volunteers work hard to ensure that this fascinating collection of biodiversity is preserved for future generations.

Your job site is a foundation near Port Elizabeth that is committed to protecting endangered marine life. Located on the shores of the Indian Ocean, it is in the middle of the world famous Garden Route region. Here you will find breath-taking landscape, with azure bays, natural sandy beaches, and dense forests. Off the coast, the Indian Ocean is home to many marine species, such as orcas, white sharks, dolphins, penguins and sea turtles. The goal is to promote the protection of marine life and nature in the region and raise awareness of animal and nature conservation, by improving on the ground education.

Your Tasks

As a volunteer in this project, you can be active in three different areas: animal and nature conservation, education and English lessons in schools, as well as research and data collection. In the area of environmental protection and nature conservation, for example, you can help rescue seabirds such as penguins or rescue stranded marine animals such as whales. You bring turtles that come to the beach for egg deposition into a protected coastal area. Furthermore, you help keep the beach clean and plant trees to protect against erosion in the coastal region. In the area of information and education, you can help to run an environmental protection programme at local pre-primary and primary schools. You educate the students about animal and nature conservation and contribute to raising awareness through fun tasks and games. You can also participate in English lessons. In the research area of the project, you and a team of oceanographers take a boat out to the open sea to observe whales and dolphins. You photograph them and collect data about their population, which you later feed into an online database. You also analyse the water quality of the surrounding rivers and the sea. To capture the population of seabirds and to investigate their behaviour, you equip the animals with numbers. In addition to these three main areas, it is also possible to help with the local leisure activities and experience tours and to work with international guests. For students there is the possibility, if desired, to carry out a small research project of their own and work with a local researcher.

Types of skills
  • Energetic
  • Friendly
  • Comfortable Around Water
  • Adaptable
  • Animal Lover
Types of Tasks
  • Tracking and Monitoring
  • Feeding
  • Reporting
  • Maintenance
  • Assisting Team
Age Range & Requirements

Age Range

We are able to take applicants who are aged 18+, and although we do not set any upper limit on age, it is important to check if you're eligible for a visa with the relevant immigration authorities.


You must be an energetic and friendly person, who has a real passion for working with animals. A background or education in working with animals is beneficial, but not essential.


The project is based in the Port Elizabeth area of South Africa.

Duration & Availability


Volunteer placements at the national park are available from 2 weeks up to 12 weeks. If you require longer than the 10 weeks available on the registration and booking form, please speak to our team and we'll happily discuss the duration with you and get it sorted for you.


Understandably, there are a few 'down' times, where there may be public holidays or religious dates, where no work will happen. This will affect arrival dates, but if you're in the country on project already, it will simply mean that it will result in some down time until the project starts back up.

Accommodation & Meals


The Shared Volunteer House brings the volunteers together to live under one roof, where you can meet other people who are also volunteering. There are multiple bedrooms and the home comforts you'd expect, including electricity, wifi, showers and more.


You'll certainly fully fed during your stay at either a host family or the shared volunteer house! You'll eat in a similar way to the locals and the local cuisine, so expect to get to know new foods and delicacies! If you do have any dietary requirements, please let us know about them as far in advance as possible, and we will do our best to accommodate them, or we will inform you if the local area can't.

Airport Transfer

We are able to facilitate an airport transfer to first nights accommodation for a small fee.

Work Clothing

Clothes that can get dirty! You'll be physically active, so be prepared to wear clothes you're comfortable in and ones where you don't mind getting a bit messy. For the wider South Africa area, it's important to bring some clothing that covers knees and arms, which is at times expected in certain areas due to local culture and customs. However, most of the time, you'll be completely fine with shorts and t-shirts.

Documentation - What do I need?

There are certain pieces of documentation that RGV require during the application process, to ensure you're a suitable applicant to work at one of our projects. They are:

  • Copy of Passport - A pretty standard request for all volunteer companies!

  • Letter of Motivation - This is a one page letter stating why you want to do the programme. The people that use these projects need it's support, so it's super important we send committed and determined volunteers, who really want to make an impact.

  • CV - This just gives us a bit of a better understanding of your background and your past work roles, as again, this is a work placement and not a vacation!

  • Criminal Background Check - With nearly all of our projects, you'll interact with either children or wildlife, so an up-to-date (within 3 months of departure) clean, criminal background check is required. We suggest ICPC, as it is internationally recognised.

  • Travel Insurance - Travel insurance tends to be mandatory for most visas, and we also require it to ensure that you are completely covered in case of emergencies.

  • Flight Itinerary - We need to know when you arrive! By having this, we can keep up to date with where you're at. If you need help with flights, we will happily point you in the right direction.

What's Included

Pre-Departure Prep & In-Country Orientation

Before you even depart, our friendly UK team will take you through every step of the process, from answering your questions about the programme, through to adivsing you where to go for your visa. We are here to help you and to ensure that you feel totally comfortable (and prepared!) before departing.

For your volunteer work in the project for marine animals, you will land in Port Elizabeth or in George. Your project is located between the two airports. The on-site project team will gladly arrange your airport pick-up (not included in the initial RGV fees). You will be picked up from the airport and taken directly to your accommodation. Alternatively, you can also travel by public transport from the airports to where you will be staying. When you arrive, you will get to know your local contact people, and there will be an introduction to the project. You will be shown the whole area and will be given information about the way of working, safety instructions and house rules.

Accommodation & Meals

The volunteer house is located about three kilometres from your project site. Depending on the season, one to twelve volunteers are at home there. You never share your room with more than three other volunteers. A laundry room is available on site, where the housewife Teliswa takes care of the laundry several times a week. She also prepares a delicious dinner for the volunteers five times a week. From the basic foods that are freshly prepared for you, volunteers can put together a lunch or cook together. Also, breakfast is included too.

Furthermore, restaurants are not lacking around your accommodation. However, you must keep in mind the costs of eating out. In the immediate vicinity is a shopping centre. Car hire and taxis (from economy to premium) are also available on weekends and in the evenings for various leisure activities.

Meet the RGV South Africa Team

In the Marine Project, you will meet founder Tony along with Jared, who leads the project as an experienced environmentalist and marine guide. Minke is head of the research department and holds a master degree in ecology. She is always happy when she can teach you something new.

Michael is a qualified marine guide and instructor, he loves to work with new people. As a project coordinator and house manager, he always strives to make you feel at home in the volunteer house.

The good soul of the house is Tilly; without her and her cooking skills, the volunteer house would not be what it is! For you and everyone else in the project, Tilly is everyone's 'mum' away from mum!

Our Rainbow Family in South Africa welcomes you!


Total Cost: £1249 (2 weeks)

Additional Weeks Cost: £440 per week (up to 12 weeks)

Initial payment consists of a £200 deposit, with the remaining balance due 8 weeks before departure. There is also an option to pay the full amount up front at time of booking.

Additional weeks can be added on through the ‘profile’ area of each applicant, which is created upon initial booking.

What's Included
  • Breakfast & Dinner
  • Accommodation
  • Volunteer Placement
  • RGV Orientation
  • Personal Contact Person in RGV
  • 24Hr Emergency Number
  • Assistance with Travel Preparation
  • RGV Family T Shirt
  • Participation Certificate
  • Extensive RGV Travel Documentation
Additional fees
  • Flights (request a quote to include flights)
  • Visas & Vaccinations
  • Public Transport/Extra Transfers
  • Travel Insurance
  • Airport Pickup (available for a fee)

Enquire about volunteering at the marine animal project in South Africa

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