The Blue Wilderness Research Unit (BWRU) welcomes students and enthusiasts on its internationally acclaimed shark volunteer program. Almost anyone can join this dedicated team on our inspiring research, conservation and education program.

Volunteers learn snorkeling, diving and scientific techniques to collect data that is vital to the management of some of the world’s vulnerable shark species.

As a team member at the Blue Wilderness Research Unit, you will be the driving force in our education and conservation programs, as well as ensuring the ongoing success of our dedicated shark and ecosystem level research programs. In addition to shark diving and snorkeling with up to five species of sharks, volunteers will be working in the Aliwal Shoal Marine Protected Area, one of South Africa’s most pristine and important marine biodiversity hotspots.

Approximate monthly activities: 

Join us?

  • Min age: 18

  • Duration: 2 – 12 weeks

  • From: $550 / week

I was a volunteer with Blue Wilderness in August of 2017 and can honestly say it was the best month of my entire life. Having the opportunity to see Blacktip sharks in the wild, along with Dusky and ragged tooth sharks is truly an incredible experience. There was something so humbling about being in the water with these beautiful creatures every single day. Volunteering with Blue Wilderness Research Unit provided me with invaluable skills that helped me with future internships as well excelling in my college courses.

Volunteer - Fiona Everst

Fiona Everest

August 2017

I heard about the Blue Wilderness Research Unit through my advisor who knows the founder of the institute and we have sent other students there. I had spent three years dedicated to learning all I could about the marine environment and gaining as much experience as possible. However, the one month I spent at Blue Wilderness, doing the volunteer program I learned more than I had in three years at my school. You are immersed into a ‘hands-on’ learning that you don’t get to experience anywhere else. You are constantly supported by Jess, the field specialists and the Blue Wilderness crew.

maria volunteer

Maria Hayden-Jones

June 2018

I made an irrational decision to head to South Africa in 2016 to work with the Blue Wilderness Research Unit for two months. I truly had no idea what I was getting into I just knew that I wanted to work with big sharks and I wanted to travel somewhere great for that. This decision became one of the best ones I’ve ever made. I met some of the most incredible people in the world in the scientists and crew of Blue Wilderness. I got to experience open water diving and snorkeling with over 20 sharks at a time, and I wouldn’t trade the hands on research for anything.


Johan Ross

June 2016

About the Blue Wilderness Research Unit

The Blue Wilderness Research Unit is a division of the renowned shark diving and adventure company Blue Wilderness. The Research Unit was set up as a distinct division with a core mission of contributing to the health of the marine ecosystems in general and sharks in particular. The unit houses a small but dedicated team consisting of biologists, conservationists and educators.

Daily operations are centered around an dynamic set of short and long term special projects. Each aimed to produce tangible benefits for the Southern African marine ecosystems. Volunteers who join the research unit will become vital members of the team and drive these daily projects.

How it works

Get researching

Research the program – Is it right for you aspirations? 

Book on

Submit your application to provisionally book onto program

Confirm place

Confirm your place onto the program by paying your deposit fee

Get flying

Prepare, pack and board your flight for sunny South Africa


The Blue Wilderness Research Unit is a subsidiary of Blue Wilderness. Our core purpose is to conduct original shark research, conservation and education programs at Aliwal Shoal, South Africa.  We achieve these goals though collaborating with affiliated scientists and postgraduate students. 



  • 11 Escombe Cresent
  • Freeland Park
  • Scottburgh
  • South Africa


  • research@bluewilderness.co.za



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