Marine Biology Internship in Cape Town

Get immersed in a fascinating underwater world during your marine biology internship in Cape Town, South Africa! You will fall in love with the underwater life full of colour, beauty, tranquility and magic. You will have the unique opportunity of discovering  the wonders of the oceans surrounding Cape Town, while you are assisting a young, dynamic and passionate team at the aquarium. All members are committed to preserver the marine environment.

Highlights of the Marine Biology Internship:

As the Aquarium houses over 3000 living sea animals, there are many tasks on your working schedule!. The astounding variety of sea animals ranges from sharks, fish, turtles to penguins. So it is no exaggeration to call it a spectacular underwater nature reserve.

The Aquarium is ideally positioned to showcase the fascinating diversity of marine life found both in the Indian and the Atlantic Ocean.
With your volunteer work you’ll become an Ambassador for the ocean, while in your free time, you can experience beautiful Cape Town with all it has on offer!

Why your Volunteer Work at the Aquarium matters

It’s because the young biology team at the aquarium feel passionate about their conservation work, that they will appreciate your dedication so much! While the aquarium has a small team of specializing marine biologists, you will also find staff members with degrees in architecture, law, education, and psychology!

Diving in the Aquarium

Allie Meredith Diving

Experiencing the displays from inside is a completely different world. I was able to pet Yoshi the loggerhead turtle, swim through the school of sardines, and wave at kids from above in the tunnel. – Allie, California, US

On your daily working schedule at the Aquarium

Help cleaning Displays at the Aquarium
Help cleaning Displays at the Aquarium

As a volunteer on this project, you’ll be assisting full-time staff on a variety of tasks such as cleaning displays, prepping food and keeping the aquarium animals happy. You may even get involved in rescue missions or animal releases! Working with animals on a daily basis, you will get to know them in an intimate way, you will start to notice their individual behaviors and begin to develop a strong sense of their characters.

You will be an ambassador for the oceans, sharing your knowledge with visitors and school children assisting in conveying the message of the oceans and its inhabitants.

Itinerary form Marine Conservation Volunteers

Start your volunteer experience on a Monday

Pool and Garden of the Volunteer House
Pool and Garden of the Volunteer House

When you arrive at Cape Town International Airport (airport code CPT), a member of the team will welcome you at the airport and take you to our volunteer house in Fish Hoek. You will stay for the first night here in Fish Hoek. You’ll need to arrive before 4.15pm so that you’re in time for orientation at 5 pm. During the ride from the airport to Fish Hoek, which takes about 45 minutes, you’ll see the magnificent Table Mountain on the way!

Orientation on the next day will take you through what you can expect from your project, dos and don’ts and how to stay safe. It’s also a great opportunity to ask any burning questions you’ve got. Afterwards, you can relax and enjoy a traditional dinner.

Note: If you aren’t able to arrange a flight to get you into Cape Town before 4.15pm then we recommend you fly in a day early. We can arrange an early airport pickup for you including one night’s accommodation. Please give us a call for more information.

Tuesday: Move to your new home!

In the morning the team will transfer you to your new accommodation. Once you have settled in they’ll show you how to get to your project each day. You can choose a bus, minibus taxi or cab. Then they will introduce you to the staff at the aquarium.

From Wednesday: Get hands-on working

Now that you’re familiar with your accommodation and transport route, it’s time to pop on your new team shirt, have fun and get stuck in!

Have a nice break for the weekend – you deserve it

The weekends are your free time to spend as you please and, living in one of the volunteer houses, there’s golden beaches, surfing, Table Mountain and wine tasting on offer.

If you enjoy: More weeks to follow!

Marine Conservation Efforts
Releasing sea turtles off Cape Point in the Atlantic Ocean

You’ll be working Monday to Friday forming special bonds with all the creatures and staff. While you learn a lot about the animals on a daily basis, you will start to notice their individual behaviors. After a while, you’ll begin to develop a strong sense of their characters and needs.

Be prepared for hard physical work

The position requires physical labor and applicants must be able to lift a 20-kilogram bucket and be able to swim. You will gain experience in Public Aquaria with the general husbandry of all plants and animals house within our facility. Duties will include daily care, maintenance, and appearance of exhibits. Preparing food and feeding of animals (fish, penguins, turtles, etc.). Assist on collection trips out at sea. Record keeping. Siphoning of exhibits. Special projects as needed which could include research and exhibit construction.

Say goodbye

After saying goodbye and Hamba kakuhle (go well in isiXhosa), you’ll head off back to the airport.

Marine Conservation in Cape Town

The southern tip of the African continent is the meeting place of two mighty oceans, the Indian and the Atlantic. Therefore, the Aquarium showcases the incredible diversity of marine life found in these two oceans. After the Aquarium opened in November 1995, soon its role as a key player for raising environmental awareness drew attention to it. People from all over the world recognize the outstanding high-quality exhibits, marine conservation, and education programmes.

Setting up new standards for marine conservation and environmental awareness

It is recognized as a leading environmental education center in South Africa and is respected internationally for its high standards of animal husbandry and the expertise of its staff in collecting and transporting live animals. The team dedicates themselves to environmental education in South Africa. Moreover, they promote positive changes towards the management of our marine resources.
It does not receive any funding from municipal, provincial or national government. It is a self-sustaining organization that relies on revenue generated through visitation and corporate sponsorships.




Start Dates

Project duration: 4 to 12 weeks
Location of project:  Cape Town
Arrival airport: Cape Town (airport code CPT) arrive by 4.15pm at the latest
Activities: Clean displays, prep food, feeding animals in quarantine and on display, accompany collections team out at sea, assist the full-time staff on a variety of tasks
Working hours: Monday to Fridays 07h00 am to 15h00 (16h00), one hour lunch break between 13h00 and 14h00.

24/7 emergency support
We’re always on hand in case of an emergency.


Fees – Marine Biology Internship in Cape Town

  • The program fee is paid directly to the host organization.
  • All of the projects incur a registration fee of  U$ 149.00 on top of the program fee.

Prices 2019

What is included in the volunteer program fee?

  • Airport Pickup
  • Orientation
  • Accommodation for all projects
  • Meals are included in most programs (please check the description of your chosen project)
  • Support from local staff & Program supervision
  • In-country 24/7 support throughout your stay
  • In-country administration costs
  • Donation to support the local project

For you to organise: Flights, insurance, visas, return airport transfer (at the end of your trip)

The return transfer from Cape Town to the airport is not covered within your project fee but our regular transfer company will be able to assist you to organise it, the costs will be about US$35 / R350.

There are no hidden costs. Most of these projects are the most affordable to volunteer in South Africa.

Iko Poran is an NGO based in a developing country. We are dedicated to helping you help others, at the lowest possible price. We are interested in making volunteering abroad more accessible so that more people can help do really important work.

Participants in our South Africa programs normally find US$100 to be sufficient for weekly expenses in the country.

The program fee should be paid to the host country and it is due 30 days before the project start date.


Accommodation & Meals

  • Volunteer House - on the Terrace
    Volunteer House - on the Terrace

Our large volunteer house in Fish Hoek will be your happy home for this trip. It accommodates up to 20 people (our volunteers only) in dormitory-style, same sex rooms with bunk beds, a maximum of six people per room. There are three bathrooms with hot, running water, showers and regular flush loos. There’s also a lounge area, balcony, lush garden and barbeque. You’ll be only a short distance from the shops and beach. You’ll find lockers at the accommodation to lock your valuables away but please remember to bring a padlock and keys with you! You’ll need to pay R1000 deposit when you arrive which will be given back to you when you leave if everything’s still as you found it.


You’ll be self-catering while in the house. The kitchen has everything you need from cookers, loads of fridge space and microwave to toaster, kettle and kitchen utensils. You can eat at the dining room table or lounge on the balcony. There’s a barbeque outside or, as we call it in SA, a braai, which is the best way to cook on a warm evening. You can also grab
takeaways at the many spots in the town, about 10 minutes’ walk away.
Note: While in the house you will be responsible for keeping the place clean so please tidy up after yourself, especially in the kitchen. Budget around US$50 per week for groceries, as prices are similar to home.

Facilities and the area

There’s a phone at the house for incoming calls, and buy local phone cards to make outbound phone calls.
Washing can be done at the laundry down the road: simply drop off your clothes and pick them up later!
Cape Town has a temperate climate but winter is still chilly so pack warm jumpers and even some cosy socks as SA doesn’t have central heating.
Bedding is provided but bring a sleeping bag for away weekends and extra warmth.
Bring along a towel

The Neighborhood

Fish Hoek’s main street is only10 minutes’ walk away where you’ll find a supermarket, serviced laundry and internet café, as well as banks and other shopping. The beach is just a stone’s throw beyond that!
Bars, restaurants, more shopping and more beautiful beaches are only 10 minute’s drive away.
Fish Hoek is on the train line and trains are a great way to travel but they stop running at 7pm.
Taxis to Cape Town CBD cost around US$35/ R250 each way.


Requirements for the Marine Biology Internship

Requirements: 18 years, police check required (fees apply)

What to wear and bring along:
Jeans or shorts depending on season. We supply aquarium t-shirts. We always recommend to bring an additional set of clothing with you in the event that you get wet. Comfortable, non slip shoes. There will be days that you will go out to sea on collection trips, so please bring along hat and sunblock. A locker will be supplied to store your personal belongings in so please bring a padlock



Allie from California

Allie Meredith California
Allie California

This summer (well, winter!) I left my warm, sunny home in California to travel around the world to Cape Town. Why Cape Town? Honestly, I knew nothing about the city and little about South Africa before planning my trip. A Google search led me to an internship programme in Cape Town, which then placed me at the Two Oceans Aquarium.

Allie Meredith Diving

When I told people back home that I was going to Cape Town, they would tell me that Cape Town is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Now I couldn’t agree more!

The past six weeks at the Aquarium and in Cape Town have flown by, and I wish I didn’t have to leave so soon. – Allie

Aviwe at the Aquarium

Aviwe at the Aquarium
Aviwe at the Aquarium

Even though I had prior knowledge of the oceans and its animals and plants, being at the Aquarium helped me this year with my studies – I gained so much practical knowledge. – Aviwe


More Volunteer Opportunities in South Africa

Find an overview of all wildlife projects in South Africa here.

If you enjoy caring for animals, check out the project for rehabilitating wounded or orphaned wildlife in Port Elizabeth.

For example, you can also visit South Africa for a project on protecting Vervet monkeys.

In Cape Town, you can also help abandoned township dogs and cats at a shelter.

There is even a marine conservation project in Kleinbaai to protect the Great White Shark in marine conservation.

Veterinary students can go for the veterinary science internship, with wildlife of the African Bush.

In addition, there are also educational projects, such as early childhood nurseryon the southern peninsula of Cape Town. or teaching assistance at a primary school.

More Wildlife Volunteering Opportunities

Find all the wildlife volunteering projects abroad.

For instance, you can volunteer with elephants in Thailand.