a South African Shark Conservancy: Research and Fieldwork | IE3 Global
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South African Shark Conservancy: Research and Fieldwork | Hermanus, South Africa

More photos from this internship can be found here. Photo credit South Africa Shark Conservancy.

The South African Shark Conservancy, is an NGO committed to the conservation and sustainable use of living marine resources. They conduct ecosystem-based research to understand sharks and their habitats for conservation and management purposes. Interns will be part of making lasting contributions to shark conservation.

Internship Start Dates:

  • Internships are available all terms, per the timelines outlined below.
  • Internships dates are determined based on the intern’s school calendar and the needs of SASC.
  • NOTE: This site does not host interns during Nov. or Dec.

Internship Timelines per Term:

  • Fall: Aug. – Oct.
  • Winter: Jan.- March
  • Spring: March/April – May/June
  • Summer: June/July – Aug./Sept.

Duration of Internship:

  • 10-12 weeks
  • Longer internships are available. Please consult with the IE3 Global Program Coordinator if interested.

The South African Shark Conservancy (SASC) was founded in 2007 and is situated off of Walker Bay in Hermanus, South Africa. The area is home to over 60 species of shark, making it a perfect location for shark research and conservation. SASC employs cutting-edge research techniques to study sharks and ocean ecosystems, providing interns with an unparalleled opportunity to get hands-on with sharks. In the words of Founding Director and Research Scientist Meaghan McCord:

The South African Shark Conservancy is an “NGO dedicated to promoting the conservation and sustainable use of living marine resources through researcheducation and outreach. We are a small, but extremely passionate, group of scientists, field specialists, interns and volunteers – all working toward a common goal: achieving pragmatic and realistic conservation and management measures for sharks – both in South Africa and the world…Interns who join our team do so knowing they will make a positive and long-lasting contribution to our research.”

SASC’s Founding Director, Meaghan McCord, has been named one of Africa’s Water Warriors by Forbes Women Africa The work of her team has been featured on BBC Earth, Animal Planet and National, Geographic among others.

  • Click hereto learn more about SACS Shark Research Internship.
  • Check out the rest of the SASC’s YouTube videos

Ongoing Research Activities at SASC:

Primary Research Focuses: Abundance, Distribution, Site Fidelity, Predation Risk, Behavior

  • Sharks in Ecosystems: Tagging and surveys to study the 62 species of sharks found in the local Walker Bay
  • Skates and Rays: quantifying variation in local communities, impact of prey availability,  conservation
  • Cetaceans (Whales and Dolphins): Opportunity monitoring looking at a variety of factors
  • Estuaries: Surveys and data collection, monitoring environmental trends
  • In the Shark Lab: Research varies based on current scientific staff and graduate student projects.

Through hands-on experience and working with seasoned professionals, interns gain a profound understanding of ecological research techniques and South Africa ecosystems.

The Shark Lab: Situated literally just feet from the ocean, the SASC Shark Lab is a fully functional wet lab, with ongoing experiments on shark behavior and biology. The lab is also the hub for the outreach projects, hosting schools and other community groups.

Field Work:  There is no “typical day” in the field. Flexibility, a good attitude and safety are key. Fieldwork days mean an early start and often 8 hours at sea. Interns will gain hands-on experience tagging sharks, collecting biological data and working on research vessels.

Research Area: SASC’s research is focused on a 200km stretch of coastline in southwest South Africa, called the Cape Whale Coast Hope Spot. This region hosts more than 60 species of sharks, skates, and stingrays. This area also is seasonal home to many species of whales and dolphins.

Work Schedule: Monday – Friday, 7:30am-4:30pm. NOTE: Interns may sometimes be required to work weekends.

Some common tasks:

  • Field Work: such as shark tagging, ecological monitoring, deploying baited remote underwater video (BRUV) systems, fishing for sharks, running transect surveys, following whales and dolphins, etc.
  • Lab work
  • Biological Studies
  • Morphometrics
  • Shark Husbandry
  • Data Entry, Data Management and Data Integrity
  • Research Reports and Research Presentations
  • Individual desktop-based Research Projects
  • Outreach and Community Education Presentations

SASC interns must be prepared to hard work and have busy, long days. Interns are expected to be professional and flexible.

Academic Background:

Marine Biology, Biology, Animal Science, Veterinary Medicine, Environmental Studies/Science, Wildlife Science, Oceanography, Zoology.


  • Any experience in research, lab work, fieldwork, animal handling, environmental awareness building is useful.
  • Advanced photography, film and graphic design skills are also useful.

Language Requirements:


Other Requirements:

Students must be flexible and willing to work weekends, on occasion.

Estimated One-Time Expenses

  • IE3Global Program Fee: $3,450
  • Host Site Fees: $6000 for 10 weeks ($600 per week)
  • International Travel: $1,700
  • Recommended Immunizations: $400*
  • Airport Pick-Up/Drop Off: $ 100

*Cost vary based on individual medical history and insurance coverage.

Estimated Monthly Expenses

  • Housing: Included in Host Site Fee
  • Food (Lunch, Dinner, Snacks): $275 ($67.75/wk)
  • Local Transportation: $150 ($37.50/wk)
  • Recreation: $200 ($50/wk)
  • Personal Expenses: $120 ($30/wk)

Additional Expense Information

The SASC Host Site Fee includes:

  • SASC research project orientation and training
  • Internet at intern house and Shark Lab
  • Shared housing
  • Basic breakfast
  • Weekly housekeeping
  • Weekly transport to shops
  • SASC Shark Research Program Welcome Pack
  • Assistance arranging your own travel tours
  • Work-related activities and research travel
  • A trip to the Betty’s Bay penguin colony

Interns live together in a group house that sleep up to 12 people. Bedrooms and other living spaces are shared. Breakfast is provided and interns are responsible for their own lunch, dinner and snacks. The house is located in a quiet residential area, about 30 minutes away from the Shark Lab, in the town of Onrus.

  • Included: Breakfast, transportation to and from work is provided, internet, bedding

House Rules

In the interest of safety, consideration for roommates and being well-rested for very busy workdays there are a few house rules.

  • Curfew: There is a house curfew.
    • M-F: at home by 10pm
    • Sat/Sun: at home by 11pm (When not doing field work the next day)
  • Drugs and Alcohol: SASC has a zero tolerance policy regarding drugs use and irresponsible alcohol use. Any intern determined by SASC to be breaking this rule will be removed from the program-without exception.

What do Interns do? Watch these videos:

Student Quotes:

“I learned so much in my time here that would take years to learn anywhere else. With SASC being a part of so many different research projects, I had my hand in research that will help sharks and the ecosystem for generations to come. While learning about and helping with so many different projects, I learned different methods and sampling procedures that will come in very useful in the future. They, as a company, are very aware of what interns need to succeed as well as how to best help us. Because of this, I was able to grow personally and professionally and feel more prepared for my future career in science that before I went there. The greatest reward is looking back and realizing just how much I have contributed to the conservation and research for these sharks. Both through all the tagging and physical data collection that I have done and also through all the schools we went to and visitors we talked to that now know so much more about these species and can make a difference themselves”

-Katie, OSU

Check out Katie’s internship blog: Going with the Flow


Fall | Fall/Winter | Winter | Winter/Spring | Spring | Spring/Fall | Summer | Summer/Fall

Application Deadline

Summer: January 25

Fall: April 15

Winter: September 1

Spring: November 15