How to Volunteer with Dolphins

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What Makes Volunteering with Dolphins So Enticing?

For many, swimming with Dolphins is a top bucket list activity. Many have an affectionate relationship with these mammals due to their calm and friendly nature; they are part of childhood magic—friendly faces who save the day, whether in real life or in a cartoon! Dolphins elegant leaps through the water are truly picturesque, and accompanied by a sunset, they would be any photographer’s dream.

The fondness for dolphins is not for nothing; they are the most intelligent water animals, and their complex and developed brains explain their friendly interactions with humans. In actual fact, their intelligence is not dissimilar to humans, due to their capability to solve problems, form complex social groups, and pass on intelligence to one another.

What better way to gain this once-in-a-lifetime experience than to volunteer with dolphins? While volunteering with dolphins, you not only get to experience their kind and elegant nature, but you can do so with the knowledge that you are also contributing to dolphin and ocean conservation. But, how can you find the perfect dolphin project to volunteer with?

How to Find Dolphin Volunteer Programs

Follow the steps below to find volunteer work with dolphins that is right for you and will give you the best experience possible, while ensuring your work will contribute to sustainable dolphin conservation. And, of course, keep in mind African Impact values the importance of sustainable volunteer work with dolphins, and our dolphin project reflects that value!

2 dolphins swimming under the sea

1. Google, Google, Google.

A pretty obvious place to begin your search is Google, but it really is the best place to begin. However, be tactical with your search; begin with something broad such as “Volunteering with Dolphins”, note down the companies and programs you click on, and be systematic and organized with your search. When there are so many different options, it is best to keep a note as you go so you don’t end up desperately traipsing through your search history to find a program you liked but whose name you can’t quite remember. Approach it as a research project; you can begin creating a more specific search statement as you continue, and if you stay organized, you should end up with a comprehensive list of volunteer opportunities you have found.

2. Word of Mouth

Admittedly rather an old school approach these days, but arguably still one of the most valuable, recommendations from friends and family can often unveil hidden gems. Not only do you often find out about a small company that would not have made it to the top of your Google search, but you are also presented with invaluable information from someone who has had first-hand experience volunteering with dolphins or knows someone who does. You’ll get an earful of never-ending tales and a selection of iPhone photos, which are often more valuable than website content, as you are presented with authentic exposure to what conservation work with dolphins will really be like.

3. Social Media

After your extensive Google search, the Instagram and Tiktok algorithms will have undoubtedly picked up on your desire to volunteer with dolphins. Use the abundance of dolphin content on your for-you page and Instagram feed to your advantage. You never know what they might advertise for you, and it’s always worth checking out. Ads will also most likely take you to the company’s Instagram page, which is a great place to get a more authentic representation of the volunteering experience.

4. Contact African Impact

You may have questions that you can’t find the answer through your own research or just need someone to talk through your options with; the African Impact team is more than happy to help! Send us a message through the chatbot available in the bottom corner of our site, DM us on Instagram, or submit our enquiry form for more information. No question is too big or too small, and one of our friendly team members will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have!

volunteers riding a boat

What to Look for in Dolphin Conservation Projects

Now that you have explored what volunteer opportunities are out there, it’s time to consider what you should look for in dolphin conservation projects. When you volunteer with dolphins, you want to make sure you have the best experience possible, within a price range that suits you, and with an organization you love! Follow the evaluation points below to find the perfect dolphin conservation project for you.

What is Your Desired Location?

One of the assets of volunteering with Dolphins is that it will take you to the most gorgeous locations abroad. The beauty of volunteering with dolphins is that, as dolphins exist in so many areas of the ocean, there are volunteer opportunities all over the world. Due to the abundance of locations, your first port of call to narrow your search will be to choose a location. Ask yourself questions such as, Is this something you want to do alongside traveling to surrounding areas? Or is it a personal research project that you would rather do closer to home? It doesn’t have to be a specific location; it could even be a continent, but it’s important to begin to narrow your search.

Where Do Your Volunteer Priorities Lie?

You may want to ask yourself this question alongside or even before you think about location, as it may limit the volunteer locations on offer. You may be looking for a volunteer opportunity focused specifically on dolphin conservation efforts, or maybe you are more interested in dolphin research projects. Equally, volunteering with dolphins could just be a bucket list item you want to tick off as part of your volunteer experience.

What is your Budget?

The next question you should ask yourself is, what is your budget? This will affect which program you can choose, how long you will go for, and what activities you can do around your volunteering. Look at each program and check what is included in the price. Every program can be different, but at African Impact, your food, accommodation, transfers, and volunteer projects are provided and organized from the moment you land. When exploring other projects, ensure to check what they include, because this will affect the total cost of your volunteering experience in the long run.

How Sustainable is the Organization?

When volunteering, it is imperative to ensure the organization you are working with is creating sustainable change. One of the risks is that the dolphins are being exploited for profit without the volunteer projects making a long-term impact. African Impact is proud to ensure the sustainability of its projects, which all exemplify lasting change and are held accountable by the African Impact Foundation. When researching dolphin projects, check to see the progress they have already made, what they plan to do long-term, and how your time volunteering will fit into this long-term goal.
volunteers wearing snorkeling masks while on the sea

Why is Dolphin Conservation Important?

Aside from the blue seas, gorgeous sun, and elegant dolphins, there are many other reasons why volunteering with dolphins is so important. Dolphins are a very important part of the marine ecosystem; their role as predators helps to regulate the population of fish, squid, cuttlefish, and crustaceans, and they are also prey for some sea creatures.

Despite their importance, these mammals are under threat, by things such as fishing, pollution, habitat destruction, and climate change. The fishing industry poses a huge threat to ocean creatures, and dolphins are no exception. The huge nets used for fishing can entangle the dolphins within them, and it has become the leading threat to dolphins and whales, estimated to cause 300,000 deaths per year. Ocean pollution poses another threat, and studies of dolphin tissue from around the world have shown high levels of pollutants that can impact their immune and reproductive systems.

Along with all of this, human activity has seen the destruction of dolphin habitats around the world. A combination of fishing, pollution, increased shipping, and many more activities allowed by a lack of regulation have led to the severe damage of many habitats that are home to dolphins and many other sea creatures. Only a small number of critical dolphin habitats are protected; thus, greater protection is urgent.

Finally, climate change poses a huge threat to dolphins, as it does to the rest of the ocean and wildlife. The rising sea temperatures are continually damaging the ecosystem as the population of Krill continues to decrease, putting dolphins, as well as hundreds of other marine animals, under threat. This list of threats is not exhaustive, and these represent just some of the reasons dolphin conservation efforts are so important.

Other Marine Conservation Volunteer Opportunities

Do you want to focus your volunteer efforts on conserving marine life beyond dolphins? We have lots of other marine conservation volunteer opportunities!

For starters, both whales and sharks are under very similar threats to dolphins. Fishing, pollution, climate change, and numerous other human influences on the water pose threats to them. An ecosystem relies on the conservation of all animals, so the conservation of sharks and whales indirectly affects the health of dolphins too.

crystal clear beach in Zanzibar

Shark Conservation

If you’re looking for an amazing opportunity to protect and experience up close one of the world’s greatest predators, African Impact offers a Shark Conservation project in Gansbaai, which is just two hours outside of Cape Town and is known as the Great White Shark capital of the world! In this project, you will document shark activity using data collection methods and enjoy regular trips to the sea to study the sharks up close and spot a few other animals along the way, such as seals and penguins. The project covers many different impact areas, such as eco-tourism, research, and seamanship skills.

Whale Conservation

If you want to embark on a volunteer experience studying and protecting the largest sea mammals, African Impact offers a Humpback Whale Research and Marine Protection project in Mozambique, one of the most beautiful coastal locations in Africa. The project involves learning research techniques and frequent excursions out to sea to develop real solutions to protect these gorgeous mammals in their winter breeding grounds. Thousands of whales mate and give birth in the summer months, so you won’t be short of whale sightings! You might also be lucky enough to see turtles, dolphins, and humpback whales.

Support Sustainable Dolphin Conservation Efforts

Figuring out how to volunteer with dolphins is your first step to supporting conservation efforts sustainably. When choosing a dolphin project, always remember that behind the gorgeous beaches and blue seas, the organization should be making a genuine impact.


This blog was written by our social media intern Fiona.



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