Namena swarms with sharks

Researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society and the University of Western Australia have found that Fiji’s largest marine reserve contains more sharks than surrounding areas that allow fishing, evidence that marine protected areas can be good for sharks.

In a study of the no-take reserve’s shark populations, the researchers found that the number of sharks in Namena Reserve — located on the southern coast of Fiji’s Vanua Levu Island — is two to four times greater than in adjacent areas where fishing is permitted.

The study appears in a recent edition of the journal Coral Reefs. The authors include: Jordan Goetze of the Wildlife Conservation Society and the University of Western Australia; and Laura Fullwood of the University of Western Australia.

The researchers conducted their study during a three-week period (July 4-28) in 2009 in Namena, a 60-square-kilometre reserve established in 1997 and managed by local communities. In order to survey the sharks, Goetze and the WCS Fiji team used stereo baited remote underwater video systems to record data at eight sites within the reserve and eight outside the reserve at both shallow and deeper depths (between 5-8 metres, and 25-30 metres respectively).

“The study not only provides evidence that Fiji’s largest marine reserve benefits reef sharks, but achieves this in a non-destructive manner using novel stereo video technology,” said Goetze, the lead author of the paper.

The 60-minute video segments taken captured images of five different species of reef shark, providing the researchers with data on shark abundance. In addition, Goetze and the research team also were able to estimate the length and size of the sharks whenever the animals were within eight metres of the camera, enabling them to generate estimates on biomass for Namena Reserve.

Outside the reserve, in areas where fishing is permitted, the researchers found fewer sharks. The researchers note that, because local Fiji communities traditionally considered sharks to be sacred, eating them is typically taboo. The most likely driver of higher shark densities within the reserve, assert the authors, is the significantly higher availability of prey fish that WCS researchers have found within the reserve boundaries compared with adjacent areas.

As demand for shark products grows, higher prices are driving some locals to catch sharks, while Fiji shark populations are also vulnerable to foreign fishing fleets.

Worldwide, increasing rates of harvesting are leading to the depletion of many of the world’s shark species.

“The news from Fiji gives us solid proof that marine reserves can have positive effects on reef shark populations,” said Dr Caleb McClennen, director of WCS’s marine program. “Shark populations are declining worldwide due to the demand for shark products, particularly fins for the Asian markets. We need to establish management strategies that will protect these ancient predators and the ecosystems they inhabit.”

The study was made possible by the generous support of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, and the University of Western Australia (UWA) Marine Science Honours program.

Diver Cycles Across Europe to Help End Shark Finning

From July 06th, Lucas will embark on a Cycling Trip across Europe to make it loud and clear that we need to put an end to the unsustainable killing of sharks before it’s too late.

For every single pound that he can raise he will go 2 miles by bike. Lucas is hoping to raise enough funds to go from Germany to Portugal but how far he goes in spreading awareness of the plight of sharks depends on you and your generosity.

Lucas

Our first Champion Lucas Schmitz signed up to our Finathon™ Challenge with passion in the first week. At first he just wanted to raise funds online but now he’s on an amazing journey cycling across Europe”

“I will go across France, Spain and Portugal and show everyone along the way that people from all around the world want sharks in the ocean not in a bowl of soup, extinction is not an option” he comments.

Along the way, Lucas will visit dive centres who have agreed to support his journey. First on the map is Bubble & Dive in Belgium where he’s expected to arrive during the second week of July. Lucas is calling on all dive centres willing to support his journey tocontact him so he can add them to his Cycle4Sharks tour map.Like many divers, Lucas has personally witnessed the rapid decline of some shark populations and he is determined to do something about it. Thanks to his determination and passion, Lucas has not only sparked media interest with a few radio interviews and press articles but he has also secured support from Scubapro and IQ Company in Germany.

“Our first Champion Lucas Schmitz signed up to our Finathon™ Challenge with passion in the first week. At first he just wanted to raise funds online but now he’s on an amazing journey cycling across Europe” commented Joanna McNamarra, Project AWARE Development and Communications Specialist. “We’re excited tofollow Lucas’ journey and wish him a safe Cycle4Sharks tour”.

If you want to support Lucas Finathon Challenge by making a donation you can do so by clicking here or via his dedicated blog Cycle4Sharks.

Storck Cruises wins top Trip Adviser award twice in a year

By JOHN ROSS

Max Storck is perplexed. He owns Storck Cruises; a cruise company which operates day trips out of Port Denarau.
Every day his vessel ventures out to the Mamanucas with a load of happy people, tourists and travellers looking forward to seeing the beautiful offshore islands we have to offer in Fiji.
So why the cause for confusion? Storck Cruises has won Trip Advisor Awards “No 1 spot” for the best cruising experience for two years running.
Their Oolala Day cruise to Savala Island has been voted by their passengers as 2012 and 2013 best day trip out of Port Denarau.
That’s great news you would think; but imagine Max’s surprise when Storck Cruises Day cruise was recently awarded the “No 2 spot” on Trip Advisor Awards.
So this puts Storck Cruises in Trip Advisor Awards “No 1 spot” for the best cruising experience for two years running and Oolala Day cruise to Savala Island in “No 2 spot”.
What an achievement! For a prestigious award like Trip Adviser, one win is exciting, two wins unheard of.

About Storck Cruises
Storck Cruises is a family run business with a long history in Fiji tourism.
A family who knows what their guests want, focusing on the little things that make a difference to someone’s day trip or holiday.
Their vessels are beautifully maintained and every crew member is selected and trained with the main purpose of making each and every passenger feel welcome, like part of Storck Fiji family.
Comfort and service are a high priority on the cruise out to Savala Island, where the crew shines by providing a truly personal experience for each passenger.
Day cruise to Savala
Max, his family and their staff have worked tirelessly to preserve as much of the natural habitat, marine and wildlife on Savala Island hoping to ensure a “laidback, castaway” feel for their guests.
Food on the day cruise to Savala Island, includes a sumptuous feast of fresh island flavors; where a wide variety is provided to suit every taste.
Specialty cakes and scones are provided for morning and afternoon tea; a mouthwatering BBQ , salads and fresh fruit, all washed down with a choice of complimentary alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
The Savala island experience provides a wide range of activities like snorkeling, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, swimming, coral viewing from a glass bottomed boat, therapeutic massages and scuba diving just to mention a few.
Or guests can just relax and enjoy the island beauty, lulled by the sounds of our live band.

Commitment to guest experience
Max says: “We put our name to this product and we believe that we have an obligation to make sure that each guest has the best time possible.
“We pay attention to every detail to ensure this.”
So, when you get the chance to experience a Storck Cruises day trip, on Oolala to Savala Island, you will understand how this fabulous tourism product is able to achieve enough votes to be ranked both number one and number two on Trip Advisor.
If you want to see all the guest comments have a look at Trip Adviser website.

Villagers haul in ‘mystery’ underwater creature

AFTER three years of practically fearing the sea, villagers of Naiqaqi in Cakaudrove yesterday put that anxiety to rest after they caught the scary looking sea creature.

Villagers of Naiqaqi in Wailevu Cakaudrove with the sea creature they caught yesterday. Picture: SERAFINA SILAITOGA+ Enlarge this image
Villagers of Naiqaqi in Wailevu Cakaudrove with the sea creature they caught yesterday. Picture: SERAFINA SILAITOGA

Unknown to the villagers who have seen it for the first time, the top part of the creature, has features of a sting ray while the bottom is of the shark.

Village headman Jepeca Nakuvu said he went out fishing yesterday morning with a group of men when they saw the creature.

“About 1pm we saw the creature come our way and it was the same one we saw in 2010,” he said.

“We didn’t give it any second chance but chased after it for about 30 minutes until we shot it with our spear gun.

“It is so heavy and we loaded it and brought it home. At least our women can now freely go out to sea to do their fishing again.”

The creature is similar to a giant guitarfish (rhinchobatus djiddensis), previously believed to range throughout a large part of the Indo-Pacific but recent evidence has shown that it, as traditionally defined, actually was a species complex consisting of four different species.

Serafina Silaitoga
Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Ef Kids on Captain Cook Island Tivua

I would like to thank your team for a wonderful day my group had today at
TivuI would like to thank your team for a wonderful day my group had today at
Tivua, the crew for the day was awesome and so helpful and most of all they
were very friendly.

Surprise to see VITI SURF, with the man behind it all JOE there was 10 of my
group members that went on the scuba dive they loved it and with JOE’s
explanation/instruction was phenomenal, the snorkeling, Richard as PRO a job
well done with the Senikai Spa ladies not forgetting the snorkeling guides,
my group most of them had never seen “nemo” & beautiful star fish, they
found them ALL today and they just enjoyed the fish feeding and kayak.

With the organize of snorkeling was just right for us, we had chances, the
volleyball and most of all the ‘future captain of Capt. Cook Cruise – the
Cadets” with lovely American songs and favorite numbers just on my EF tour
members line with tag and sing along, please thank VILI and all the cadets
with their serenading leader, Mr.Eceli.

Yummy Lunch.plenty as well and not forgetting the man behind the bar
“Freddy”.

At the end to complete our day, the snake dance from the crew and to all the
tour members especially my EF tours, that top’s it ALL.

The island was nice and clean lots of beach mats and the convenient were
very clean as well, it was good that since there was 74passengers for today
on the island since the 2xbures were not occupied I asked if it could be
used as changing rooms as well which was well organized.

Thank you for a beautiful day and I hope Rony’s group for tomorrow,
Mon/17June will also enjoy theirs.
Vinaka Vakalevu!!!!!!!!! From Lydie and the EF clan members of 48..a, the crew for the day was awesome and so helpful and most of all they

Where is the best diving in Fiji?

A question often asked is where the best diving in Fiji is located.  Tough question!  You can fall into the water almost anywhere and have a good dive, and every area has some sites that show signs of damage by weather, climate, runoff, human activity or other factors.  One note about the currents in Fiji – most of them are the result of tidal changes, and as such come up and go down twice a day.  If you want to minimize your exposure to current diving, they are at their strongest around a full or new moon.  However, the currents bring in plentiful nutrients that account in great part for the prolific marine life and vast number of species for which Fiji is known.  Some dives require current to be present in order for the soft coral polyps to be out feeding, and for the bigger pelagics to be actively hunting.  The dive operators try to dive particular sites during optimal currents so that divers can experience each dive site to its fullest, but there can be a fine line between underdeveloped, optimal and overdeveloped currents.  Dives that are incredible when the current is just right can be either downright scary or boring when that window is missed.  Here is some general information that might help you decide which area is best for you.

 

Let’s divide the most popular dive areas into 4 regions.  These are the Mamanuca and Yasawa groups, the Northern Group (centered around Taveuni and the Somosomo Strait, but extending from the eastern and southern coasts of Vanua Levu to the northern and eastern coasts of Viti Levu, and the entire water between), Beqa Lagoon, and Kadavu (including Ono and the Astrolabe Reef).  Of these, the Northern Group is by far the largest and most diverse, and includes many dives that are world renown.  For discussion purposes, the Lomaiviti Group (to the east of Viti Levu) has been included in the Northern Group, but it is also sometimes referred to as the Central Group.  The others are self-explanatory.  It should be noted that there are some excellent dives that fall outside these four areas, like the Lau Group, the Great Sea Reef and Vatulele, but these are less accessible due to limited or non-existent dive operations providing access.  Here is what you can generally expect in each of the regions.

Mamanuca and Yasawa Groups:

This is the perfect area for divers who are new to the sport, returning after an extended absence from diving, or just want to have some nice, relaxing dives.  It is also great for honing your skills prior to diving the more advanced sites in other areas, or for getting your certification.  There are lots of bommies and fairly shallow reefs, with pinnacles, walls and swim-throughs sprinkled in as well.  While there is generally not as much current in this area, the soft corals are also less prolific.  However, there is still plenty of marine life and hard coral.  ‘The Supermarket’ is one of Fiji’s first shark dives, and can be an adrenalin-filled adventure.  There are also wrecks, channels to the outer barrier reef and unique areas where resorts and dive operators have created protected areas and special environments. Of course, you can still see most of the marine life that exists throughout Fiji.  The Mamanuca sites are the closest to Nadi and many can be reached from Nadi resorts within 20 minutes or so.

The Northern Group:

With a celebrity reputation that is often exceeded each time you visit, this region can excite even the most jaded divers.  It is so big that no single trip can adequately cover all the great sites.  This is the playground of liveaboards and the home of areas like Namena Marine Reserve, Somosomo Strait and Rainbow Reef, Vatu-I-Ra Channel and Bligh Water.  Typically abundant with soft and hard coral, this is what Cousteau referred to as ‘The Soft Coral Capital of the World’.  Somewhere within this region can be found just about everything Fiji has to offer from Pygmy Seahorses to Hammerheads.  Generally considered a destination for advanced divers, there are also numerous sites suitable for novice divers and snorkelers.  Currents can make the diving arduous at times, but the rewards can be exceptional.  There are still areas here where exploratory dives can yield amazing discoveries.

There is a wide range of resorts in each of these areas to suit most tastes and budgets.  Serious divers usually decide where they want to dive and then choose a resort, but no matter where you decide to stay there is probably some good diving nearb

“A LITTLE PIECE OF HEAVEN”

kayla2002uk
London, United Kingdom
This was an nothing short of amazing! the island was unreal, exactly as you would expect a paradise island to be! Barely built on, white sands, crystal clear water, marine life aplenty including a resident turtle! Snorkelling equipment was free, in abundance and no time limit on it! The reef was much better than anywhere else ive been and we had just come from the great barrier reef!

The welcome was so friendly and put a smile on your face from the second you stepped ashore! I found the service really personal, all the staff remembered our names and took time to chat to us! They make such an effort to make every single person feel welcome! Entertainment in the evening is obviously basic as your on a tiny island but none the less it was brilliant! The staff made such an effort to make sure you had fun! And because there are only 30 rooms everyone gets involved and gets to know each other! The same goes for the daytime activities, I like to laze at the pool but have a very hyperactive husband who does his best to ruin this! However he was taken off my hands by the staff with all sorts of activities! Even if it as only him who wanted to do something they still catered for him!

I was actually pleasantly surprised with the rooms, I had expected it to be a lot more basic that it was! I would definitely go for a beach bure next time though – and there will be a next time!

I am a very fussy eater and was quite nervous about this being that we were in the middle of the sea! But my fears were completely unjust as the food was gorgeous! EVERYDAY!! I can’t recommend Ponys Caesar salad or the crepe suzettes enough! Both are prepared at your table with a touch of showmanship thrown in on the side! Mmmmmmmm now I’m drooling!

It was very much a honeymooners island but we met a couple of girls just there to relax, as well as couples old and young who were not on holiday

There isn’t anything bad I can say about this island except its too far away for me to return regularly!

BULA!!

“Highly recommended”

We took a day cruise to Tivua Island and loved every second. Our host was magnanamous and very entertaining. The day started off so well from a simple conversation with Captain Cook himself that we had forgotten to bring towels. Well, we were trotted off to Jack’s to pick up what we needed, then personally escorted on board and waved goodbye. Once at the island (which is heaven) we had the choice of snorkelling, volleyball, scuba diving, glass bottom boat tour, swimming, massages (extra cost) or just plain sitting around and soaking up the atmosphere. Lunch was a generous BBQ and salads, and beer, wine, soft drinks and water on the island were complimentary. The cruise back to the marina was very entertaining with a coconut lesson and a sing-along.

Visited April 2013