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.
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.
Your specific activities will depend on the season, weather conditions, and site needs, and will be discussed with you on-site. When the weather is bad, there will be indoor activities instead. You usually work from Monday to Friday from about 8:30 am to 16:00 pm. You can use your free time after work and on weekends to hit the shops in the shopping centre nearby, relax on the beach or, for those thrillseekers out there, take skydiving, abseiling or bungee jumping tours!