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Sharklife Internship

This one-of-kind internship is suited to ocean enthusiasts and aspiring marine biologists looking for worthwhile field experience with a diverse range of shark species

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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. "The overall goal of the program is to imprint a deeper understanding of the shark species in the minds of participants" 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 making it a prime area to view sharks in their natural habitat.

Time Commitment

6 - 8 hours

Active Periods

Every month of the year


Work and Activities Description

Through the program, you will gain bona-fide field experience with sharks and their environments. You will receive free-diver training and gain water confidence Examining real shark and ray specimens is a rare opportunity and will greatly enhance your understanding of elasmobranch anatomy. By being involved in our research projects you will be exposed to varied research processes and methodologies. 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. Your participation in our internships directly supports the shark conservation efforts of the organization.

  • Research sharks, gain field experience, develop watermanship skills (free-diving, boating)
  • Examine real 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
  • Field Course Components: Watermanship - Develops your all-round ability to work in ocean environments Shark and Ray Biology - Broadens your understanding of key areas of shark and ray biology Shark Identification and behaviour - Enables you to identify sharks in the field and recognise different behaviours Shark Research Methodologies - Increases your understanding of shark research methods Shark Conservation and Advocacy - Empowers you to promote shark conservation ideals objectively
  • Additional activities are varied depending on current programs at the Sharklife Ocean Center.
  • Assist with educating local school groups
  • Develop displays for the shark museum
  • Maintain research equipment
  • Catalog museum specimens
  • Collate and input research data

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 shark and ray specimens we have preserved, either frozen, dried or in solution. These specimens enable interns to get a feel of the various anatomical features of each animal. The rest of the day may be allocated to extra activities happening in the centre 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 the 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.

Free Time Activities

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. 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.



Accommodation Options

Four private rooms and one shared room with an en-suite bathroom

Accommodation Description

Sharklife has its own intern camp which consists of four private rooms and one shared room with an en-suite bathroom. There is a large self-catering kitchen fully equipped with everything you need and a braai and picnic area outside.


Washing machine

Facilities Description

There is a washing machine to do your own laundry


Three staff


Security company and CCVT

Food & Drink


Internet Access


Phone Signal

Yes - reasonable coverage

Nearest Facilities

Hospital 20km away, clinic 14km away

Airport Pickup

Fly to and from Richards Bay airport - an airport pickup is included in the internship fee


Language Requirements

Basic English

Document Requirements

Valid passport, travel insurance and letter from your doctor if you suffer from any chronic illness

Nationality Requirements


Qualification Requirements


Medical Requirements

Other Requirements

Recommended Gear

Mask, fins, and wetsuit if you have, if not we do supply some gear

Included Services

Before Journey Services / Support

On-Site Support

We are on-site every day to assist


Pricing Breakdown

The 2-week field course introduces students to relevant theoretical and practical elements involved in shark research and conservation. This program is suited to marine enthusiasts who are looking at acquiring additional experience in the field of shark behaviour, ecology and conservation

  • $1450 1 Month Marine Research Internship: The first 2 weeks of this internship consist of the field course above, after which 1 Month Interns continue to work alongside a researcher to gain hands-on experience in data collection, data management and the use of practical field research equipment. This program is suited to aspiring marine biologists who are looking at developing their field experience and research skills
  • $1995 2 - 3 Month Marine Research Internship: After completing the 1-month program Marine Research Interns continue to work alongside a researcher to further develop their skills and work experience. This program is suited to early-career marine biologists who are looking at gaining extensive field experience and project involvement 2 Month internship $2995
  • 3 Month internship - $ 3995

Not Included in Price

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. Flights Travel Insurance Vaccinations Weekend Activities

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