Humpback dolphin ID and seabird rehabilitation

Project name:

O.R.C.A Foundation (Ocean Research Conservation Africa)

Project purpose:

Volunteer community in marine conservation, humpback dolphin ID, Seabird rehabilitation, environmental awareness and education

Project activities:

  • community awareness

  • data collection/analysis

  • teaching

Weekly cost (approx USD):




South Africa


3 Ratings

100 % would recommend

Direct benefits you gain:

  • cultural integration

  • data/statistical skills

  • field research skills

  • remote scenic location

Noteworthy conservation points:

  • development goals (supporting local community)


Dormitory with it's own bathroom and toilet

When does the project run?


accommodation included, food included, cooking facilities, electricity, local shops, nearby medical facilities, refillable drinking water, shower (hot), toilet (western), wifi

How long can I stay?


  • come with an open mind

  • be prepared to learn

Details of the day-to-day life on the project:

The ORCA Foundation, a conservation initiative of Ocean Blue Adventures, officially opened its doors in 2001 and was designed to create awareness about marine conservation issues facing Plettenberg Bay. Today, the foundation combines research, conservation and education into its comprehensive volunteer programme. The foundation strongly depends on the willingness of international volunteers to contribute their time and dedication to help further our efforts. Volunteers of

different ages and backgrounds come from all over the world to learn and provide valuable assistance in a wide variety of meaningful projects. This allows them to make a valuable contribution to increased knowledge and awareness regarding local conservation efforts.

It’s all hands-on! You will play a major role in our programme where you will be expected to perform a large portion of the work.

Your participation in conservation and education projects will involve regular hikes and surveys on local beaches to perform marine debris clean-ups; alien plant eradication; river health assessments; assistance at the SANCCOB Seabird Rehabilitation Centre; assistance at the Knysna Animal Welfare Service (KAWS); and environmental education of children at the Siyakula Pre-School Crèche and Sterreweg Special Needs Pre-School.

We support applied research by partnering with resident marine scientists based in Plettenberg Bay. Their projects are perfect for individuals who are interested in marine mammal research. By assisting them in the field or at sea you will gain valuable experience in boat-based and land-based field research methods involving some of Plettenberg Bay’s charismatic marine top predator species (eg. southern right whale, humpback whale, Bryde’s whale, Indian Ocean humpback dolphin, common dolphin, bottlenose dolphin, Cape fur seal and Great white shark). You will assist with humpback dolphin photo-ID research and record sightings of other marine animals during dedicated boat-based surveys. In addition, you will join Ocean Blue Adventures commercial whale and dolphin watching boat trips when there are opportunities to record opportunistic data. You will also participate in other research projects including marine mammal stranding response and necropsy; seal population monitoring; seal scat processing and preliminary identification of prey remains; seal-fisheries interaction and seal-shark interaction research in the Robberg Marine Protected Area. Sample processing, data entry and error checking forms an important component of research, and you will be expected to perform a large portion of this work.

No previous experience is required to participate in our programme. It is however recommended that you have the following qualities in order to make a valuable contribution:

• General interest in marine biology, research, conservation and education

• Enthusiastic, positive, mature and independent attitude
• Willingness to learn and work well within our small team

• Adaptable and patient due to the weather dependent nature of fieldwork
• Ability to work long-hours on small vessels
• Moderate fitness level to hike long distances in the field

• Attention to detail
• Willingness to perform tedious behavioural observations
• Willingness to perform tedious data entry duties

• Ability to communicate fluently in English (both written and oral)

Update or add information

Send us a form with the new details 

If you would like to add pictures or videos to this projects page, please email us with the name of the project and the relevant media to:

Upload a picture or video!

Reviews & ratings

Adria F

It has been a great pleasure having shared with you this week. I can say it has been an unforgettable experience and even if it has been only one week it has served me to change my mind on important aspects of life. It has been my first experience as volunteer and now I am sure I will repeat the experience if have the chance. Let me give you a quick feedback on the main points: 1. Organization: very well organized, useful information available and quick email answer in case of doubt. 2. Accommodation: good house in a good neighbourhood, I felt as I was home and I have not missed a thing. 3. Expectations vs reality: some changes should be done in the project description, More emphasis should be put on the egg-cases project and it would be perfect to advise that the penguin and turtle rehab is quite rare, looking at the cover of the information paper you can have the idea that the main areas covered will be penguin & turtles rehab.together with school visits. 4. Overall: I am very happy with that experience and it has been great to have some free time during the afternoon to discover Plett, walk by the beach or surfing. 5. Things I have really enjoyed: there are some things that made the difference, the visit to both schools and Mark and Poly`s workshop are among them.


An unforgettable experience

Max S

The time in Plettenberg bay was the best experience in my live. I worked there for 3 months and every day was perfect. It’s been only 3 weeks now, since I’m back in Germany and I miss it so much. I learned so much about myself and different ways of live. If you go to orca you’ll learn so much about the amazing animals in the water or the nature along the coast. The life in plett is filled with a lot of activities like surfing, fishing safaris etc. you’ll enjoy every day and you’re never boring. The guys from orca are like a family and after a bit you get part of this family. They will always help you and they will always do everything for you to have a great time. In Addition, the people in plett are so friendly and open minded, that means it’s very easy to get new friends and meet people. Go to flashbacks on a Friday night and you’ll always have a great night. In generell, plett has so much to offer and it’s such a beautiful place. It’s very hard to be in a bad mood. Minke and Michael will teach you a lot of cool stuff about maritime wildlife. I was so proud after this time because I felt like I did something useful. Working with kids, do some research and help to make this place better was such a great experience. Finally I really recommend everyone to work for orca. It’s gonna be the best time of your live. I’ll definitive go back!!”