While we might not think of the giants of the sea as something that needs saving, shark conservation is a very important part of sea based activism. These gentle but misunderstood creatures come under threat from many different directions and are maligned in many different ways. If you want to help protect this amazing species and learn more about them, here are the top 10 places to volunteer with sharks.
1. Whale Shark Conservation & Diving
This program in beautiful Placencia, Belize focuses on one specific type of shark. Often mistaken for a whale due to their size and slow nature, these beautiful sharks are one of the gentle giants of the sea. Go scuba diving with them, learn more about their habitat, and participate in reef and island based conservation projects. The goal of this project is to provide a nearly perfect environment for whale sharks that migrate through the area and call these waters their homes.
2. Marine Research and Whale Shark Conservation
Another program focusing on the gentle giants of the shark world, this program is located in Tofo, Mozambique. This program focuses much more on data collection and observation, seeking to head off problems that could threaten the sharks before they surface. Work can be completed in the water or on land and heavy emphasis is placed upon understanding the impact of your actions. Be prepared to learn about a few other species that live alongside the sharks as this program focuses on them as well.
3. Diving & Marine Conservation for AOW and Above
Southern Leyte, Philippines offers access to one of the worlds only reefs with 50% coral cover, making it a necessary habitat for thousands of different species and an important location when it comes to the conservation of aquatic species. This program stresses the importance of data collection and participants will be trained to recognize the difference between different species they encounter on their dives. There is a less advanced program with less expected out of participants, but the AOW program provides unique experiences on the reef.
4. Shark Conservation Assistant Research Diving
This program in Gili Air, Indonesia is special because it focuses not only one the animals in the area, but also the community surrounding the area. In addition, this course allows PADI certification to be gotten while taking part in the course, giving it great overall value. There are 8 different dives each week, with information gathering and active conservation being an important part of each dive. Presentations, education, and documentaries with more information are part of the program.
5. Invasive Species Management
Located along the reefs of Planencia Brazil, this program focuses on restoring the natural balance to waters that are homes to a large number of sharks. Lionfish are a not so nice and not so tasty fish that have a habit of destroying habitats, harming other fish, and can completely upend an ecosystem. This program focuses on scuba-diving, in water education, and the collection and culling of lionfish.
6. Marine Life Conservation Assistant
A more hands on program out of Placencia, Belize area, this program has you actively seeking out and tracking species for conservation. Heavy emphasis is put upon the plight of species in the area and beach cleanup is an activity within the program. This program is aimed at individuals wanting to work within the Marine Biology field, but open to anyone who shows enough interest and wants to make a difference.
7. Sharklife Internship
Not for the faint of heart, this internship in Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa lets you work on your freediving certificate while coming face to face with sharks and rays. The program has five education tracks that once completed will allow you to continue advocating for and assisting sharks around the world. The beautiful location is home to migrating populations of sharks and rays, setting you up for some of the most beautiful underwater experiences you will ever have.
8. Marine Conservation and Diving
In beautiful Beqa, Fiji you can enjoy yourself on sandy beaches, snorkel in crystal clear water, work towards your PADI certification, and relax. This program is a bit more intensive than many others, but it doesn’t quite have the same rigor as other programs offered by this institute. Instead, this program focuses much more on observation, mapping, and reef wide conservation, working in tandem with the other programs. This doesn’t mean that there are no dives or that the dives aren’t useful when it comes to helping conservation efforts, merely that they are more relaxed.
9. Coastal Conservation, Research & Education Helper
Run through the amazing ORCA institute, this program is a little less hands on if you want it to be, but is still filled with great learning opportunities and the ability to help out species in decline. The program in Plettenberg Bay, South Africa combines on surface observation, elementary education, and on beach conservation together for a truly amazing experience. Many of the skills learned within this program are applicable to other areas of the world with conservation needs as well.
10. Great White Shark Conservation
Although they are one of the biggest predators in the ocean, these sharks aren’t actually that violent and are surprisingly fun to study. Rotational dives in a 1 meter deep cage are where most of the observation and recording will take place. All volunteers are trained on safety and given enough information about the sharks before they ever head to the cage, so you don’t need to worry about your safety. At the end of the program in Kleinbaai, South Africa you will have helped with conservation efforts and learned more about the undeserved reputation of these beautiful creatures.
There are a huge number of programs all over the world that will allow you to work with and towards the conservation of various species of sharks. These are the top 10 offerings from around the world, but there are other options available as well. If you feel a special connection to sharks and want to make sure they survive, volunteer today.