Would you like to work alongside leading marine biologists on ground-breaking research on Southern Africa’s marine megafauna? Are you looking for the skills to launch your marine research or conservation career? Are you ready for a once-in-a-lifetime research opportunity, knowing that the data you contribute will be used to inform real marine conservation decisions?

Since 2007 the Oceans Research’s Field Research Program has offered a unique experience for aspiring scientists and conservationists. Students gain exposure to a wide variety of projects and in depth aspects of practical field research on species such white sharks, bottlenose dolphins, Southern right whales and smaller benthic shark species.

During your stay you will play a vital role in research at sea and on land, from data collection to data management. Your collected data is used to advise various industries, including the government, on real-time issues in marine conservation.

Projects & Activities

  • Population assessments & trends of white sharks, humpback & bottlenose dolphins, southern right & humpback whales and Cape fur seals
  • Habitat use of white sharks and marine mammals
  • Population structure, trophic and movement ecology of endemic benthic catsharks
  • Predator-prey behavioural strategies of white sharks and Cape fur seals
  • Shark stress physiology and behavioural studies
  • Intertidal community assessment
  • Ecological monitoring of rivers
  • Marine Mammal Stranding Response workshop
  • Science Communication Course
  • Get a PADI OWD, AWOD or RD certification included

*Some projects are seasonal

Learning & Skill Sets

  • Seamanship and crew in a research vessel
  • Through both land and sea-based fishing trips, techniques are taught on how to correctly catch & handle sharks, how to tag them, and how data on catch, tag & release can be used to monitor shark populations
  • Learn to deploy and operate Baited Remote Underwater Video (BRUV) equipment, Remote Operated Vehicles (ROV) and drones, to subsequently answer specific research questions through analysis of video data
  • Gain experience in how to best maintain research boats and scientific equipment


Program Structure

  • Arrival 1st of the month – any time
  • 2nd-3rd orientation & safety briefing
  • 4th to month end – program activities
  • Work conducted Monday through Friday
  • Work hours from 7am to 6pm
  • Weekends are left for resting and additional recreational activities
  • Departure 1st of the next month

Getting Credits

  • Approximately 150 to 200 working hours per month
    • 40-80 sea hours
    • 20 conservation/education hours (beach clean ups and community outreach)
    • 90-100 research hours
  • Each student gives a research based presentation at month end
  • Datasets for additional projects are available on request
  • Up to 15 credits per month
    • To be coordinated through professor/university
    • Forms, MOUs, evaluations can be agreed upon


Program Costs

  • €3, 200 per month (June to August)
  • €2, 500 per month (rest of the year)

Price includes

  • Research fee
  • Dorm-style accommodation
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Local transport
  • Local airport pickup/drop off
  • Internet

Price Excludes

  • Airfare
  • Insurances
  • Laundry
  • Tourism activities
  • Spending money

Download the program brochure here!

Informational Videos

Where we are: Mossel Bay

 Planning Your Trip

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“My experience at Oceans Research was amazing, because South Africa is amazing, because the team is amazing and.. the White Sharks are amazing! For the first time I worked on the field, I understood what it means to work in the fiel  d of conservation. I understood how to conserve marine animals and the oceans. I came home more aware. And I met wonderful people!” – Sara Cutillo, Italy, April 2018

My name is Madeleine Sherman and I am from Honolulu, Hawaii. I was an intern with Oceans Research in August of 2017 and can honestly say it was the best month of my entire life. Having the opportunity to see white sharks in the wild, along with other local fauna is truly an incredible experience. There was something so humbling about seeing these beautiful creatures up close and personal every single day. Interning with Oceans Research provided me with invaluable skills that helped me with future internships as well excelling in my college courses. I was able to make life-long friendships with other interns, a year later and we still all talk almost every day! I would recommend interning with Oceans Research to anyone interested in marine science and conservation”. – Madeleine Sherman, USA, August 2017

I came to oceans 2017 in July. Something that I was always curious about being a future marine biologist was how scientists identified a large pod of dolphins or whales, or if there was numerous sharks in one area. Being at oceans I can say I walked away with enough knowledge on fin identification; this is something I’ve never forgotten and i still use this skill daily during my summers”. – Dajon Clemons, USA, July 2017

Read more testimonials!

Success stories

Many students, interns and volunteers who have attended the Field Research Program have gone on to enjoy careers and great success in a variety of fields.

“I first travelled to South Africa in 2007, volunteering in Gansbaai working on a white sharks ecotourism boat. In 2008, I was among the first ever cohort of Oceans Research (then known as SAMPLA) interns, returning in 2009 as the original field specialist. South Africa became my home, and I ended up moving back to Gansbaai. I am now a PhD student affiliated with Murdoch University looking at comparing the fine scale movements of several populations of white sharks on a global scale.

The skills and connections gained during my time in Mossel Bay were crucial to my development as a marine scientist and young adult. Skippering boats, animal tracking and working with white sharks are now part of my daily life and I’ve traveled the world working with these amazing animals.

I’m still friends with many of my cohorts and the interns I managed”. – Oliver Jewell

“I will always be thankful for everything I learnt during my time at Oceans Research. Oceans Research is incredibly unique in the sense that it brings like-minded people from all over the world together in a beautiful setting to achieve the same goals.

To top it all off, I witnessed some of the most spectacular displays of wildlife behavior I know I will ever see in my life.

Hands-on field work is important as it shows prospective employers that you have the ability to apply theoretical principles to practical research in the real world.

Lauren obtained her PhD at the University of Western Australia working on the movement and trophic ecology of manta rays in the St Joseph Atoll in Seychelles”. – Dr Lauren Peel.