If you’re looking to expand your career in shark science, the most valuable thing you can do is to gain as much insight and exposure to the industry as you can. Being a volunteer gives you the chance to do this, and also much more. It’s also become an increasingly popular form of responsible tourism all over the world. Here are some reasons to inspire you to take part in a shark research volunteer program.
1. You’ll contribute to important research
As a volunteer, you’ll be helping the shark centre, organisation or institute carry out their scientific field research. This helps them achieve their research goals, which means you’re essentially helping the bigger academic field of marine and shark science to grow. By keeping this in mind, you’ll be doing important work for the benefit of marine science. You’ll also be helping the world to understand sharks better.
2. You can gain experience in the field
Volunteering gives you the chance to gain real industry experience working with sharks. You will learn the ins and outs of shark research, what the day-to-day life of a marine scientist is like and get the chance to work with real live sharks! This gives you a great advantage in your future career as a shark scientist.
3. It will help you learn valuable skills
This is one of the biggest reasons to volunteer for a research project. Because you will be joining shark scientists on their field research as a volunteer, it will teach you all about collecting and processing scientific data on sharks. These skills will make you a valuable addition to any shark research team or marine science job you’d like to apply for in the future.
4. It will improve your CV
Building your resume should be one of your first priorities as a science enthusiast. Applying for your dream shark job will be easygoing if your CV reflects the valuable industry experience and skills you’ve developed while volunteering on a shark research program.
5. You will be helping the research project financially
Volunteering isn’t free, but there is a reason behind this. Besides your food, accommodation and possibly also transport for the time you’re part of the project, your contribution also helps fund the organisation and their ability to carry on their research and marine conservation efforts. In a third-world country, for instance, the economy isn’t as strong and big research grants aren’t always available for funding shark research projects. In essence, you are also giving back to the research project – and to shark science as a research field – by volunteering.
6. You can experience endless shark encounters
If you become a volunteer for a shark research program, you’re guaranteed a daily dose of shark sightings and unforgettable action moments with these predators of the sea! Instead of doing just a two-hour shark cage dive, you could be getting an overdose of shark encounters by volunteering with scientists who work with sharks almost every single day.
7. You make new friends
Volunteers come from all over the world to be part of a very specific program: researching and working with sharks. As a volunteer, you’ll meet many new friends with the same interests and passion as you. You’ll be able to build relationships with people you might never have met otherwise. It also gives you the opportunity to network and build contacts in the shark science industry.
8. You’ll become an agent for shark conservation
You can wear your shark t-shirt and brag about the fact that you volunteer to work with sharks. As a volunteer, you are actively contributing to the global debate on sharks. You’ll promote the notion that shark research is important, that sharks should be protected (not feared), and that you are proud to associate yourself with a project that is driven by a love for and fascination with sharks. Since you’ll actively be taking part in finding out more about sharks and their behaviour, it will also grant you the knowledge and opportunity to educate others on shark facts and scientific findings.
9. It’s fun!
One of the best reasons to volunteer at a shark research program, is that it’s an unforgettable experience that you’ll enjoy every minute of. You should take your choice in volunteer program seriously, but you should also make sure that you meet new people, explore the area and embrace the culture of the location. You can do recreational diving during your hours off, or you could do some sightseeing in the local towns. Most of all, you’ll spend time underwater with some of the most beautiful creatures of the marine world – it can’t get much more fun than that!
These are some of the most inspiring reasons to volunteer for a shark research program. Use them as motivation for looking at which programs you could join in the near future. If you can’t find anything close to you, come to South Africa for the Blue Wilderness Shark Development Program. It would guarantee you an invaluable experience!
Blogger details – Rouxne van der Westhuizen
Rouxne has an Honours degree in journalism and media studies. She is the course director for the Travel and Environmental Journalism at the Africa Media Academy. Rouxne specialises in wildlife conservation writing, travel journalism and blogging.