Programme Overview


The ORCA Foundation, a conservation node of Ocean Blue Adventures was designed to create awareness about marine conservation issues facing Plettenberg Bay. The foundation combines research, conservation and education into its comprehensive volunteer program. The foundation strongly depends on the willingness of international volunteers to contribute their time and dedication to help further our work. 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.

How will I help?

It’s all hands-on! You will play a major role in all our projects where you will be expected to perform a large portion of the work. Your participation in conservation and education projects will include a range of hiking, responding to strandings and visiting the local schools.

We are involved in a number of marine research projects which are perfect for individuals who are interested in marine mammal research. By assisting our biologists in the field, 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.


The level and extent of your participation.

Depending on the length of your stay, you may or may not participate in the full range of activities. If your stay exceeds 2 weeks and you have achieved a level of experience that is satisfactory to our team, you may be asked to take on more responsibility in certain projects and even train or supervise new volunteers.

You will be exposed to challenging work conditions.

While assisting our biologists during boat-based fieldwork you may be required to move around the vessel whilst underway, sometimes in choppy conditions. Seasickness is a possibility and we suggest you take the necessary precautions if you think you may be prone to this condition. Hiking out to work sites, clearing alien plants or performing tedious behavioral observations from cliff-top vantage points can be physically demanding and mentally challenging. However, we do realize that every volunteer has their own physical and mental capabilities, and therefore won’t expect you to venture beyond your limits. It is important to notify the volunteer coordinator at the start of your stay if you have any disability, injury or condition (especially fear of heights) that may affect your participation in some of our more challenging fieldwork activities.

 You will need to be patient with the weather-dependent nature of fieldwork.

You will need to be prepared for regular last-minute changes in the pre-planned work schedule. It is important to understand that most of our projects are highly weather dependent, especially boat-based fieldwork. Bad weather days will be used to catch up on data entry and other database tasks. Opportunistic research on Ocean Blue Adventures whale and dolphin watching boat trips may also be cancelled or delayed depending on available space and last-minute tourist bookings. Marine mammal strandings often occur without warning. Events involving fresh carcasses or live animals ashore require immediate response and therefore take priority over all other activities. When we receive a report of a marine mammal ashore, we often drop what we are doing and rush out to investigate as data and samples collected from stranded animals are very valuable for research.


No previous experience is required to participate in any of our projects. 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 behavioral observations Willingness to perform tedious data entry duties
  • Ability to communicate fluently in English (both written and oral)

Once you have arrived and settled into the ORCA house, our volunteer coordinator will give you a brief orientation of the program. Details of the purpose and importance of each project can be found in this guidebook but will also be explained further during in-field training.

If you would like to continue to read more about our project, click here.

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