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Dolphin & Whale Research

Marine Conservation Volunteers South Africa


A unique experience of working alongside an Eco-tourism company in their efforts to research and conserve dolphin and whale populations.

Join the skipper on the whale- and dolphin-watching trips to assist with data capture. Assist with a variety of tasks, from coastal conservation and marine research; to crewing and guiding on the boats; and the important task of assisting with educating local children about the ocean and lagoon. 

Research material is collected by volunteers including daily sightings of the various species of whales & dolphins, any recurring visits and the migratory habits of the various whales and dolphins that visit this area.

Marine Research involves recording the number and type of animals seen, taking ID photographs and videos of sightings, as well as recording the GPS coordinates of the sightings for mapping purposes. 

Please note: exact sightings are variable and some species e.g. whale species will only be present at certain times of year (whale season is approximately June – December)

Teach children in the local community about marine life, which will increase their respect for the ocean and their desire to protect it. You may be involved in classroom based educational workshops as well as accompanying underprivileged children on a dolphin- and whale-watching trip– a once in a lifetime experience for many of these children!


  • Protect and research our diverse marine life 
  • Educate local people about the ocean and its conservation
  • Work along one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world 
  • Experience dolphins and whales in close proximity!


  • Recording detailed sightings of whales & dolphins 
  • Photographing and filming sightings of whales & dolphins 
  • Relaying information to guests 
  • Recording sightings from land 
  • Data Entry & Sharing of results
  • Developing and delivering educational workshops for children 
  • Accompanying children on boat trips

What difference does this project make?

The project is dedicated to making a positive difference to the marine ecology of this area; and you will be a part of this vision. 

Project data will contribute to on-going research into populations present in the area. All collected data is shared with relevant conservation and government bodies as stipulated by the Marine Living Resources Act of 1998 

Key Info




Field Conditions

The volunteer house is basic but comfortable and cleaned daily by our hardworking House Manager. It is full of character and has spectacular views over the mountains. Facilities Include: 

  • Hot Water Showers & Electricity 
  • Communal Kitchen 
  • Communal Lounge Area with TV/DVD Player 
  • Comfortable Dorm Style Sleeping Arrangements 
  • Unlimited Wi-Fi and computer access 
  • Outdoor braai (barbeque) area & Hammocks 
  • Private & Family Rooms Available on Request


Knysna, South Africa

Couples, Friends, Groups, Older travelers, Solo Traveler


Specific qualifications are not required, although this Initiative would definitely be of interest to and benefit those studying or working in the field of conservation. Volunteers need to have a passion for conservation and nature and a love for working with the community. Volunteers need to be hard working, mature, motivated and able to show initiative. Good health and physical fitness are also required and volunteers must be comfortable with being at sea for long periods of time. Volunteers also need to be confident with speaking English.


What is included?

  • All project operating costs, equipment, tools and resources 
  • Return Bus Ticket from Cape Town to Knysna 
  • Pick up & drop off from arrival points (George/ Knysna) 
  • 24/7 emergency support 
  • Orientation & Training 
  • Accommodation in our Volunteer House 
  • 3 Meals a day 
  • Project Related Transport 
  • Project T-shirts 
  • Dedicated coordinators to assist you daily 
  • Project support and feedback sessions throughout your stay 
  • Assistance with optional activities and tours 
  • Assistance obtaining a local SIM Card for your phone 
  • Additional cultural and outdoor activities on Friday afternoons (and some evenings) 
  • Free, unlimited Wi-Fi and computer access in the volunteer house 
  • Post-project involvement, and an exclusive return volunteer discount


Contact Project: Dolphin & Whale Research

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