The SharkWise Project

A fully immersive marine biology internship programme based in South Africa.

The SharkWise Project Internship is based in Umkomaas, Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa and is aimed at young students wanting hands-on experience in marine biology, focusing on shark research.

The interns work with Masters and/or PhD students that are registered at Stellenbosch University. The interns assist with data collection for the postgraduate research.

Our interns will be assisting with the current postgraduate research:​

  • Genetic sampling.
  • Shark fin photo identification.
  • Underwater photogrammetry.
  • Reef biodiversity assessment.

Interns are expected to have a passion for the natural world and have a hands-on attitude towards academic research. Current or prior studies in the natural sciences are preferred.

Please forward your CV and a motivation letter to Natasha Pindral if you would like to join us and do not hesitate to ask should you have any questions!


Academic Director
Dr Sara Andreotti

Dr Sara Andreotti is a marine biologist specialising in shark research. She is a lecturer extraordinaire at Stellenbosch University Department of Botany and Zoology and co-founder of The SharkWise Project. She has been developing a management and conservation plan for great white sharks since 2009.

Sara also co-founded SharkSafe Barriers (Pty) Ltd, to provide an eco-friendly and shark-specific technology to keep swimmers and surfers safe from large predatory sharks, without impacting the marine environment. She is one of the four co-inventors of the SharkSafe BarrierTM: a patented technology that successfully bio-mimics the visual effects of a thick kelp forest, combined with a shark-deterrent permanent magnetic field.


Dive Guru
Walter Bernardis

Walter Bernardis is the founder and operator of African Watersports, an internationally renowned dive centre based in Umkomaas. Walter has been diving with large sharks for over 4 decades and has spent his life advocating for shark conservation and the preservation of all marine life.

Walter is well known for using the tonic immobility technique to remove hooks from the mouths of sharks. He is considered a pioneer of shark diving, the sardine run and Nile crocodile diving in the Okavango delta. Walter has also featured in several international documentaries, that focused on changing people’s perception of sharks.


Jason Frewin

Is the Dive Centre Manager, House Instructor and Personal Assistant to Walter Bernardis at African Watersports.

Over a decade ago, Jason began scuba diving by working as camera crew on a shark-cage diving boat. No stranger to excitement, Jason’s first dive on his Open Water course, was a baited shark dive filled with bull sharks and oceanic blacktip sharks. Within minutes of entering the water, Jason soon realised that these Apex predators were not what was portrayed on the movie “Jaws”. With his camera in hand, Jason felt in love with sharks.

Jason continued his scuba training and had the privilege to teach at multiple dive schools in the United Kingdom, Mexico, the Caribbean, and in South Africa. He achieved his PADI Elite 150 Master Scuba Diver Trainer Award & can now teach over 15 PADI Speciality Courses.

While he was on his journey, Jason’s hero soon became his mentor. Walter Bernardis, the pioneer of tiger shark diving. Jason was incredibly determined to work with Walter and his dream finally came true in 2018. Today, Jason oversees all diving-related activities at African Watersports & The SharkWise Project, including all safety aspects from boat launching procedures and retrievals, to dive etiquette and most importantly how to be safe with the sharks on the Aliwal Shoal. Jason’s expertise means he is a perfect person to train divers who want to learn and assist those that come to dive from across the world.


Marine Biologist

Natasha Pindral

Natasha Pindral is a passionate marine biology graduate of the University of Cape Town. She is the SharkWise Project Manager who teaches young, aspiring marine biology students the necessary fieldwork skills from collecting, sorting and processing scientific data. Natasha believes that creating opportunities to learn about the key role of sharks in the ocean is essential to creating a more sustainable future. Healthy shark populations; healthy marine ecosystems.




“Not many people get the chance to meet those legendary people we look up to.

I recently got the chance to meet Mr Walter Bernardis (Mr. B). Legendary shark expert of Umkomaas, South Africa. Meeting and diving with Mr. B were 2nd only to the chances we got to talk with and listen to him.

I could listen to his experiences and learn from his knowledge all day, plus he is just an all out nice guy. Him and his fabulous team gave me some of the best experiences of my life and I will treasure our time together.”

Rebekah Ann Martin


“During a 3-month stay in Umkomaas, I had the opportunity to conduct multiple scientific dives with African Watersports. Especially I was able to dive with Walter Bernardis. He personally allowed me to improve my knowledge of scuba diving and how to be in the water with apex predators such as leuca sharks, tiger sharks, and blacktip sharks.

The diving skills of Walter Bernardis and his team of divers is very attentive to the welfare of the sea and these important predators within their ecosystem. Through my experiences with them I was able to develop a greater awareness of myself as a diver as well as how my person can be in the water with similar predators without having to dive inside a cage.

Given my great passion for this animal and the choice to base my scientific interest as a biologist on them, I developed techniques and knowledge that I could hardly have done elsewhere.

Beyond what I expressed above, Walter and his team has a great ability to make you feel at home even if you are thousands of miles away from your real home. A stay at African watersports is something that I not only recommend but think that if you are a lover of diving and sharks, it should definitely be done.”

Pietro Storelli