Volunteer for Marine Conservation in South Africa

Plettenberg Bay, South Africa Wildlife & Environmental Conservation



Travel to South Africa and take part in a marine conservation program with Plan My Gap Year! Combining conservation, education, community development, and research, this project brings you to Plettenberg Bay to help with a variety of important tasks, including identifying marine species, fin profiling, alien vegetation removal, bird ringing, river health assessments, elasmobranch egg case collection, beach cleanups, and community education. You don’t need any prior knowledge or experience in conservation to sign up.


During your stay in South Africa, you will learn a great deal about marine conservation and the local ecosystem. The work that you’ll do - whether it’s in monitoring, research, data collection, cleanup, or education - is a vital part of running this marine conservation program and educating the local community on how to sustainably interact with their environment. You’ll learn about different methods of research and data collection, as well as how to accurately manage collected information for statistical analysis.

Field conditions

As a volunteer, a few of the tasks that you can expect to take on include:

Identifying marine species: Taking boat trips to see dolphins, whales, seals, and other animals in the bay and surrounding area

Fin profiling: Cataloguing dolphins and whales, all of which have unique fins that can be used for identification

Alien vegetation removal: Using saws and pangas to remove invasive plants that absorb water away from native species and hinder their development

Bird ringing: Cataloguing and tracking birds, assisting with data entry, and even placing tracker rings on birds’ legs (if you’re a longer-term volunteer)

River health assessments: Studying macroinvertebrates in rivers to assess the overall health of the area

Elasmobranch egg case collection: Collecting washed-up egg cases from sharks, skates, and rays, and mapping out coordinates for where they’re found

Beach cleanups: Collecting litter, learning about marine debris, and generally helping out with making sure the ecosystem is clean and healthy

Community education: One day per week, take part in pre-school and primary school environmental education programs

Arrival and orientation

This program starts on Mondays. You will arrive to George Airport on your selected start date, and be greeted by a local staff member or appointed driver holding a sign with your name on it. From there, you’ll head over to the volunteer house and spend the rest of the day relaxing before getting started on your volunteer program.

Your stay


  • HousingVolunteer house

  • Provided mealsBreakfast, dinner

Accommodation description

Based right by the beach in Plettenberg Bay, the volunteer house that you’ll live in is within walking distance to ATMs, restaurants, and shops.

The house is basic but comfortable, and each room can accommodate up to four people in a same-sex room. Bathrooms are shared, with a hot shower and western-style toilet. There also is a communal area where you can relax and hang out with fellow volunteers, and wifi is provided. The house is located right next to where the local team lives, and on the same site where the project is run. June through September are PMGY’s busiest volunteer months, so you may be placed at an alternative location such as a nearby guest house or a different volunteer house.

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are provided throughout the week, though you should expect to prepare your own meals on weekends. Breakfast usually consists of eggs, toast, jam, cereal, and tea or coffee; lunch usually includes chicken, ham, or cheese sandwiches; and dinner can be spaghetti, pizza, sausage and mash, burgers, or fish and chips.


Volunteers will stay in a volunteer home.


from $774 USDper week

from $774 USDper week


What’s included

  • Certificate of completion

  • Regular program inspection

  • 100% financial protection

  • Live pre-departure webinars

  • Comprehensive volunteer handbook

  • Unlimited email and telephone support

  • Dedicated pmgy travel mentor

  • 24-hour us-based emergency support

  • 24-hour in-country support

  • Private transport to project

  • In-country orientation

  • Airport pickup

  • Breakfast, lunch, and dinner

  • Accommodation at volunteer house

What’s not included

  • Criminal background check

  • Visa

  • Return airport transfer

  • Travel insurance

  • Airfare

Start dates

This program starts on the first and third Monday of each month year-round.

Founded in 2011 by volunteers for volunteers, Plan My Gap Years works with local communities in the developing world towards long-term sustainable goals. We know there is no better way to travel and make a positive impact in the world. Our structured programs create the perfect platform for you to see the world, meet like-minded people and engage in meaningful volunteer work. We have teams in the UK and in your host destinations who will support you 24/7 throughout your time with them. Furthermore, every project on our network is regularly risk-assessed by our UK team to ensure their setup is safe and that their volunteers are making a positive impact. There is also a great social element to our programs. We put you in touch with all of your fellow volunteers via Facebook before you set off. Our projects receive volunteers from around the world throughout the year, so even if you’re travelling solo, you’re going to meet heaps of people along the way.

You may also be interested in…

Applying through Abroadly gets you access to exclusive travel scholarships and a no-fee fundraising platform

44 people are researching this project