Sharklife Internship


Sharklife has been driving shark conservation initiatives for the last fifteen years and has a wealth of experience to offer enthusiastic interns. With direct involvement in Sharklife's research and conservation projects, the marine internship program aims to empower conservation ambassadors through knowledge development, hands-on training, and many hours on the ocean encountering a multitude of marine wildlife.  

Notice: South Africa is OPEN to ALL international travel, book early to avoid disappointment. 

Please let us know if you need help with your travel arrangements.

Key Benefits:

Sodwana Bay 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 mega fauna.

Sodwana Bay is also a short drive from a selection of Big 5 Game Reserves which you can visit on your days off.

Sharklife conducts ongoing research projects with varying focus and seasonality. These projects enable interns to gain insight into marine research methodologies and implementations.

Current Studies Include:

Ragged-tooth Shark movement Study:

The study, in collaboration with Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, aims to identify key congregation areas and movement patterns of pregnant spotted Ragged-tooth sharks within the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. 

Skill Development Areas:

  • Freediving
  • Scuba Diving
  • Underwater Photography
  • Shark Behavior
  • I3s ID Database Management

Season: Oct - March - Read Project Overview

Elasmobranch Assessment Study:

The study aims to describe the species diversity, relative abundance, distribution patterns and habitat associations of elasmobranches occurring in Sodwana Bay. 

Skill Development Areas:

  • Freediving
  • Scuba Diving
  • Underwater Photography
  • Shark Behavior and Identification
  • BRUV Deployments
  • Bathymetry Mapping 

Season: Year Round - Read Project Overview

Turtle Assessment Study:

The study, in collaboration with the Nelson Mandela University, aims to describe the ecology and population dynamics of non-nesting sea turtles occurring in Sodwana Bay. Season: Year Round

Skill Development Areas:

  • Freediving
  • Scuba Diving
  • Underwater Photography
  • Turtle Behavior and Identification
  • I3s Database Management 

Season: Year Round - Read Project Overview

In order to play a functional role in Sharklife research projects the following training areas are covered:

  1. Watermanship -  Develops your all round ability to work in ocean environments 
  2. Shark and Ray Biology - Broadens your understanding of key areas of shark and ray biology
  3. Shark Identification and Behavior -  Enables you to identify sharks in the field and recognize different behaviors
  4. Shark Research Methodologies - Increases your understanding of shark research methods
  5. Shark Conservation and Advocacy -  Empowers you to promote shark conservation ideals objectively

Scuba Diver Training: Optional Extra

If you would like to complete one of the following courses whilst you are here, please specify it in the application form.

  • PADI Open Water Course - $350
  • PADI Advanced Diver Course - $250

NB: A minimum of 1 month stay is required to add on a scuba course. 

The marine environment is not an easy place to conduct research, practical involvement is the best way to understand the challenges faced when working on boats and in the water.

As a Sharklife intern you are required to get involved in all the practical tasks needed for the day to day running of the research projects. An overarching goal is for interns to develop their work ethic and experience.

Sharklife is a non-profit organization that relies heavily on intern involvement to achieve its main objective; Through scientific research, education and awareness bring about positive change to the current destructive trends of ocean exploitation.

By joining Sharklife as an intern you are making a significant contribution to this cause.


2 Week Internship:

The 2-week internship introduces participants to the basic theoretical and practical elements involved in shark research and conservation. This program is suited to marine enthusiasts who are looking for additional field experience in a short time frame. Note: There is no time for scuba courses on this program. 

  2 week program usd 4


1-3 Month Marine Research Internships:

The first 2 weeks of the internship consists of training in the focus areas mentioned above, after which you become part of the Sharklife team and work on projects relevant to the season. You will gain hands-on experience in data collection, data management, and the use of field research equipment. Simply put, the longer you stay the more you will learn. Note: There is time for optional scuba courses on this program.

1 month program usd 3

2 month program usd 2

3 month program usd 5


Program Dates: for 2020/2021

Calendar 18.11.2020


Costs Include:

The majority of your internship cost goes towards the implementation of research projects.

  • Research expenses
  • Airport transfers 
  • Private room (1 twin room on full capacity)
  • Lectures, materials, certifications
  • Dive gear
  • Wifi
  • 24hr support  


  • Food and Drinks: The intern accommodation has a fully equipped kitchen to prepare your food or if you prefer catered food there is a restaurant onsite you can visit. There are daily trips to the local supermarket where all common food and beverages are available: Budget $50 per week.
  • Scuba Courses (PADI OW $350 or PADI ADV $250) These courses are delivered through our PADI 5 Star scuba training partner. 
  • Flights 
  • Travel Insurance
  • Vaccinations 
  • Weekend Activities: These can be scuba diving, game park tours, or field trips


Some FAQ's

  • What do I get from the program?
    1. Through the program you will gain bona-fide field experience with sharks and their environments.
    2. You will receive freediver training and gain water confidence
    3. Examining real shark and ray specimens is a rare opportunity and will greatly enhance your understanding of elasmobranch anatomy.
    4. By being involved in our research projects you will be exposed to varied research processes and methodologies. 
    5. 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. 
    6. Your participation in our internships directly supports the shark conservation efforts of the organization. 

  • Who is the program for?

    Over 18’s, in good health, good swimming ability and an affinity for the ocean. If you are considering a career that involves being in the ocean, then this program will benefit you.

    For example:

    • Early career marine biologists
    • Marine field guides
    • Dive instructors/dm's/divers
    • Shark fanatics
    • Gap year students
    • Volunteers
  • Do I need a Scuba qualification?

    No, but it would be beneficial. Many of the research trips are all snorkel based but some projects do include scuba surveys.  

    If you would like to complete one of the following courses whilst you are here, please specify it in the application form.

    PADI Open Water Course - $350
    PADI Advanced Diver Course - $250

    You will receive basic freediver training from an accredited freediving instructor. This will enable you to dive comfortably between 5-10m. 

  • Flight Details?

    You need to fly into Richards Bay Airport (RCB) via Johannesburg O.R Tambo Airport. Please try arrive early as its a 2hr drive back to Sodwana Bay.

    Sharklife World Flights

    A Sharklife staff member will pick you up from the airport on your arrival day.

  • What is available in Sodwana Bay?

    There are most products and services available within walking distance of the accommodation.

  • Do I need a Visa?

    Nationals of the following 48 countries/territories who hold valid national passports are not required to obtain South African visas for visits of up to 90 days:

    But please double check this as changes can occur at anytime. visit http://www.dha.gov.za/index.php/immigration-services/exempt-countries

    African Union Laissez PasserAfrican Union Laissez Passer
    Angola (ordinary passports 90 days per annum  visits not to exceed 30 days)
    Chile (only ordinary passport holders)
    Czech Republic
    Germany (except in diplomatic staff due to assume duty at the Embassy and Consulates of Germany in SA)
    Namibia (only ordinary passport holders 90 days per annum)
    Russian Federation     
    San Marino
    St Vincent & the Grenadines
    Tanzania (90 days per annum)
    Trinidad & Tobago (only ordinary passport holders)
    United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (only ordinary passport holders) 
    British Islands Bailiwick of Guernsey and Jersey, Isle of Man. British Oversees Territories namely: Anguilla, Bermuda, British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, St Helena and Dependencies (Ascension Island, Gough Island and Tristan da Cunha), Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands, the Sovereign Base Areas of Cyprus South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands and the Turks and Caicos Island.
    United States of America (except in respect of diplomatic staff due to assume duty at the Embassy and Consulates of the USA in SA, as well as service passport holders)
    Zambia (90 days per annum)

  • Deposit and Cancellation?
    • A non-refundable 50% deposit needs to be paid within one week of being accepted into the program.
    • The remaining fee must be paid in full 3 weeks prior to arrival date.
    • All cancellations within 3 weeks of arrival are non-refundable.
  • When is the best time?

    Although seasonal changes in Sodwana Bay are mild there is a change in the sea conditions and shark abundance during the year.

    Generally the best months are between Jan-July, but its not imperative.

  • A typical day?

    Typical Day: 07:00 - 15:00 

    After preparing the boat and equipment for sea we head to the beach. Interns are an integral part of the team and 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 where we conduct in water surveys, record sightings data and change out equipment. Interns get the opportunity to develop seamanship and diving skills whilst encountering a wide variety of marine life. 

    On returning we rinse, de-kit the boat and diving equipment and break for lunch. 

    After lunch we meet in the research office where interns are tasked with the daily data management functions. 

    We end off with a debrief and planning session for the next day's research activities. 

    If we are unable to go to sea due to inclement weather we conduct theory sessions 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 also use this time 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 center at the time such as; assisting with school groups, museum display development, boat maintenance etc.

  • Typical day off?
    • 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. 

    lion umfolozi

    • 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.

    sodwana beach

  • Do I need vaccinations?

    Depending on where you are coming from there are a few vaccinations that you may need. Check the link below for more information.




  • Tiago Lima - 2020 - PRT

    I did a month-long internship at Sharklife, in February 2020.
    I am a physicist and a diver, so I was both curious to learn about different research strategies, involving being in contact with the sea and its fascinating underwater world.
    I quickly learned that I barely knew anything about sharks and ocean conservation, and that there is so much that I can do now to make a difference.

    I had an incredible experience, not only learning about sharks and rays and other sea creatures, but also about everything else Sharklife does: from preparing every research trip (seamanship, weather conditions, research objectives/parameters/equipment), to research methods (which includes free diving training  <3), to conservation activities and even personal well-being development.
    Plus I got to see WAY more sharks than I ever thought. Raggies are the best!

    While my experience with Sharklife was purely personal (I can even say it has changed my life, opening new perspectives and lifestyle choices), it also turned out to be a fantastic opportunity to further develop my professional skills (used my programming to help with the research, learning about machine learning on the way). I believe this to be true in any other area, as Sharklife motivates you to go further and find your best contribution to the cause.
    Not my case, but I also believe Sharklife to be a perfect start for anyone who wants to pursue a career in Marine Biology.

    Now some personal references:
    Grant and Candice were lovely, always positively supporting you and your choices. I was amazed by how trustful Grant was towards me, particularly when it seemed that he should be more "expert" than me when carrying out some tasks.
    Greg was the first Sharklife member I met, as he picked me up from the airport. He was very friendly and always passionate about teaching about different things: from sharks to personal well-being.
    Myriam and Emma were neck-deep into the research at Sharklife. Myriam was super passionate about her project and always eager to go one step further, while overwhelmed by copious amounts of data. A true scientist.
    Emma was just getting started with her project, but was already greatly involved with its cause. Very conservation oriented, exploring an underdeveloped topic, I am very curious of where this project will take you and to learn a lot about the rays of the world!
    There were also additional hands, who helped in our ocean trips, be it being top man or a dive guide. Both Ayonda and Dennis did a fantastic job! I have to say, I had some amazing shark encounters in the company of Dennis. Thank you for that!
    Finally, there were the other interns. I think we made a great team. Of varied nationalities, different languages, backgrounds and expertises, we spent almost all the time together, be it in the kitchen chatting and cooking meals together (satee nights, chili nights, pasta nights, you name it, we made it), preparing the equipment and boat, or just free diving training in the sea. It was refreshing to be with them!

    And that's all! I would highly recommend Sharklife to anyone who can relate with my experience - wishing to learn more about sharks, whilst making a difference not only in your life.

  • Zoe Townsley - 2020 - UK

    I absolutely loved my two week internship with Sharklife and would totally recommend it to anyone who has an interest in sharks (not just for students - for anyone). I can't believe how much the team packed into two weeks: lectures, studying specimens, practical boatwork (safety checks and preparation), ocean days, free dive training (theory and practice), and helping process real scientific data for use in the Raggie study. Before I joined, I was interested in sharks but didn't have any particular knowledge. Now I feel like I have more than a good grounding on them and the threats facing them - so much so that I feel equipped to present to my work colleagues on shark conservation and try and break down some of the standard prejudices most people have about sharks. The internship was not only a really valuable experience for me but also super fun too: cracking! I met some truly wonderful people at Sharklife (big shout out to the Team: Grant, Greg, Candice, Miriam, Emma - thank you for the hard work you do) and the other lovely interns too. I would have no hesitation in doing this all again and hope to stay in touch and continue to support Sharklife and its important work.

  • Clinton Peters - 2020 - RSA

    I've just completed the Jan 2020, 2 week internship at Sharklife.

    As an active member of Sharklife, and a real fan of what the brand stands for, it was an honour to be among the most knowledgeable, enthusiastic and passionate staff who are amazing at Marine conservation and research.

    A real dream come true for me. Meeting Grant was a real pleasure and I admire the amount of work he and Candice put in to make the internship, a memorable one. The experience is is made better by the superb lecturers, Greg, Miriam and Emma, one can feel the passion and dedication that they have when it comes to preserving life in the seas.

    The intern experience is humbling and I'm definitely able to use my Shark knowledge to have factual discussions about the importance of conservation.

    The freedive experience, as a first timer was an unbelievable one. I was able to get down to a few meters, under the watchful eye of the experienced instructor, Greg, with Grant offering advice from his vantage point on the boat. Ayanda was also very helpful on the boat.

    The surf launch, also a first time experience for me, was exhilarating, and hats off to the skipper, Grant for his amazing ability behind the wheel.

    Whichever internship you choose to do with Sharklife, you most definitely will not be disappointed. Rest assured you'll be in good hands.

    Thank you all at Sharklife. Hope to see you soon again.

  • Isabella Aitkenhead - 2019 - AUZ

    The Sharklife internship experience was like no other! I learnt so much about sharks and shark conservation, my head was just filled with exciting new information for the two weeks. Not only did I learn a lot of valuable skills and information, the staff at Sharklife have inspired me to become a shark ambassador wherever I go, and have given me the confidence to do so!

    The Sharklife team makes it easy to feel comfortable and settle right into the life as a Sharklife intern and the intern camp felt like a home throughout the two weeks. I had never been freediving before, and was unsure how comfortable I would be in the water, but now, after freediving comfortably in such a beautiful place like Sodwana Bay, all I want to do is take more freediving courses and increase my level.

    I would recommend the Sharklife internship to everyone! I can’t wait until I can go back!!!

  • Michaela Leyva - 2019 - USA

    One of the best experiences of my life! Greg, Miriam and Grant are amazing people with such a passion for sharks. Free diving in such beautiful water and being able to see some amazing wildlife along with in depth learning of sharks was perfect. I would love to go back and stay for longer.

  • Mikala Haptonstall - 2019 - USA

    Amazing people to be surrounded by learning how to free dive in absolutely beautiful water with the chance to see breathtaking wildlife. The passion that Grant, Greg, and Miriam exude is so contagious, I didn't want to leave!

  • Pim de Boer - 2019 - NLD

    Had 2 great weeks at Sharklife with Grant, Greg, and Meriam. A really passionate group of people who do so much with little resources. Would highly recommend the internship to any ocean enthusiast! Learned so much about sharks and the ocean in general. The shark museum and brand new intern camp are an awesome learning environment. But most amazing of all is the time you get to spend in the water with the sharks. They really know where to find them and you get the opportunity to see some special shark species that you would never get to see without expert knowledge. Really hope that more and more people start supporting Sharklife to allow them to make a change!

  • Ângela Sabino - 2019 - PRT

    Very dedicated team, learned so much ? Awesome internship ? Keep up the great work guys ?

  • Emma Williams - 2019 - UK

    I had the most amazing time interning with sharklife. It was so good i stayed for 10 weeks and am heading back in September. There's a great balance between academic learning and time in the ocean. I learnt so much about sharks as well as other marine issues and animals and had plenty of opportunities to improve my freediving skills which I'm going to continue to work on when I get back, as well as loads more to learn. I would recommend this to any one interested in the marine environment. Sodwana is a beautiful place to live and explore, Sharklife has incredible learning resources and Grant and Candice were so much fun to work with and learn from. Thank you for the great experience guys

  • Karolina Nszcm - 2019 - POL
    • What an amazing program , great two weeks with great learning path connected with a lots of hours in the ocean. - you got to be in it to win it ?❤️shark lover!
  • Alex Melson - 2019 - UK

    “Got to be in it to win it” ?

    Nothing more perfectly summarises what the Sharklife Internship is all about, than the quote above! We got close to sharks, rays, rays and even dolphins, learnt about the critters of the sea, looked into shark biology and learnt how to free dive, all of this is just two weeks. For someone who had an abject fear of the ocean and a misunderstanding about sharks, this internship turned me from someone who was nervous to even go knee deep into the ocean, to someone who didn’t want to get back into the boat. Grant’s passion and determination for sharks is truly inspirational and I would highly recommend this internship for anyone looking to learn more about sharks, advance their career or learn new skills.

    I cannot wait until I get the opportunity to return in the future.

  • Chris Taklis - 2019 - GRC

    Those 2 weeks were perfect and so much educated (the most times with a fun way, so we didn't get bored).

    We learned so many stuff. Sure i recommend it for everyone to go. To see by yourself how conservation works in the field.

    And don't believe any legend or myth until you go there and freedive with sharks.

    Sure i will come again. I hope in the near future.

  • Mieke Buys - 2019 - RSA

    The Sharklife Internship is one of, if not the best thing I have done so far. Shark Conservation is so important and more people need to be aware of that to help make a change and that is what Sharklife is doing, they are working to make a change and help these beautiful creatures. Don't let the media and stereotypes influence the way you look at sharks, these animals are so misunderstood and in need of our help to save them.

    I can't thank everyone at Sharklife enough for these past two weeks. It was an incredible experience and I am so lucky that I was able to learn about these amazing animals and to have been able to get in the water with them. These two weeks have been unforgettable and I am definitely going to be back for more!!

  • Jae Kelly - 2019 - USA

    Interning at Sharklife was the most incredible experience. The internship exceeded all my expectations. Grant, Candice and Dennis are three amazing human beings who have so much knowledge to share. Grant truly went above and beyond to make sure that every minute of the day was spent growing our understanding of sharks, and the whole marine world overall. Between the labs, time in the ocean and other unique excursions the two weeks flew by and I cannot wait to return someday in the near future. Anyone considering an internship or just wanting to know what Sharklife is all about should not hesitate to get in contact with Grant. I flew all the way from WA state in the US for this internship and the long travel was worth it ten-fold. 1000000% recommend the people, the place and the program.

  • Androniki Thirion - 2018 - RSA

    Sharklife and the internship run by Grant is where one can put passion and hobbies in 1 place! Very hands on and very informative in every aspect... The museum is full of information about the ocean life and mainly focusing on one of the most misunderstood creatures (Sharks). Would highly recommend it to young and old who love the ocean.. And to learn to freedive, and get close and personal with the creatures of the ocean... Thank you Grant for a wonderful experience! Keep it up ??


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Sharklife Ocean Center

Sodwana Bay, KwaZulu Natal
South Africa 3974

Email: info@sharklife.co.za
Ph/WhatsApp: +27 (0) 82 935 9427