Wildlife conservation, community and environmental volunteer projects and internships worldwide

Dolphin Research Project, Namibia

1 to 3 months from

minimum age

  • Gain in-depth practical training in marine research techniques to study whales, dolphins and turtles
  • Get involved with our bottlenose dolphin acoustic project, recording dolphin sounds
  • Live near the Walvis Bay lagoon alongside flocks of flamingos and colonies of seals
  • Sea kayak with seals or discover the sand dunes in your free time

Heaviside's Dolphin in Walvis Bay

About the Project

Join a team of dedicated scientists on our Dolphin Research Project in Namibia and enjoy a once in a lifetime opportunity to contribute to marine research in a beautiful and remote environment.

Internship Programme

Research internships are 5 weeks in duration and are run during the Namibian winter, Northern Hemisphere Summer in June, July and August. They are tailored to provide participants with field skills necessary for a career in marine mammal science.

There are also limited opportunities for those interested in long-term volunteering or student placements from September to May each year (see below – Long-term Volunteers/Student Placement).

Humpback whale tail in Namibia

Research Internships

By joining the team as an intern you will get the opportunity to gain in-depth practical training in marine research techniques to study whales, dolphins and turtles. Working closely with principle investigators, interns will gain experience in:

  • Taking photo-ID pictures
  • Collecting behavioural data
  • Data input
  • Making acoustic recordings
  • Shore based tracking of animals
  • Attendance at whale and dolphin strandings
  • Working with archived skeletal materialVolunteers doing environmental education in Namibia
  • Small boat skippering

Interns will also have the opportunity to join the community outreach programme, visiting local schools to increase marine awareness and education.

A Typical Day at the Project

Your internship will begin with a period of training including lectures and practical exercises to make sure you are prepared for your stay. Each day on the project will be exciting and varied with interns up and ready to go by 6:30 to make the most of good weather. You will be split into teams rotating between office work, boat work and education work.

Swimming seal in Walvis BayFree Time

Researchers are given 3 full weekends off.  At other times weekends are typically either Saturday or Sunday, with research taking place on the other day. During this time you are encouraged to visit the beautiful sights the area has to offer including the sand dunes and Sandwich Harbour as well the local beach and do some kayaking.

Long term Internship/ Student placement

Please enquire about options available throughout the year (excluding June to August) to join the team as a long-term volunteer or for a student placement. Long term volunteers/ students are expected to join the team for a minimum of  1-2 months in duration up to a maximum of 3 months in duration.

These placements are well suited to those who want to acquire a range of field and office skills and really get to grips with data processing.  Volunteers will also be involved in on-going field work including occasional small-boat surveys, land-based bird and dolphin surveys, tour boat surveys, seal disentanglement, and attendance at any postmortem examinations of stranded cetaceans or turtles that may occur.

It may be that your university requires you to undertake a short research project, in which case we can help devise the project through discussion with team leaders who can also supervise your project. We would also welcome social scientists and educators in this role, who may be more inclined to work on community outreach elements of our marine programme.

If a long term placement interests you, please contact victoria.mcneil@workingabroad.com for further information and to discuss the options in more detail.

Whale stranding in NamibiaProject Background

Founded in 2008, the project conducts research on coastal dolphins and whales with the ultimate aim of providing high-quality data for science and management. Working closely with the Namibian government, NGO’s and the tourism industry ensures that the projects results reach all the right people. Adding to this, the project engages with the local community through the Community Outreach Programme.

Our goal is to provide you with the opportunity to volunteer with dolphin research and be involved in most of the daily research activities including boat work, photograph grading, data collection/input and attending strandings. While with us in Walvis Bay you will be helping to collect and process data on bottlenose and Heaviside’s dolphins from our photo-identification and behavioural surveys. You may also have the opportunity to be involved with our bottlenose dolphin acoustic project, recording dolphin sounds. If you are with us at the right time of year you may also be lucky enough to help collect data on marine turtles and on humpback whales for inclusion in the humpback whale photo identification catalogue.

“Volunteers have played a central role in the running of the Namibian Dolphin Project since 2010 – their contributions of skills and manpower have allowed us to run intensive and productive field trips generating large amount of novel data on the whales and dolphins of this poorly researched area. Volunteer support has also allowed us to develop an effective marine-education programme both at our Environmental Office as well as in local schools. This in turn has allowed the NDP to play a key role in marine conservation in Namibia.” – quote from the Project Director

Dolphin Research Project, Namibia

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