Eager to get in the water, head to Pacific Harbor for an orientation and introduction to the Shark Reef Marine Reserve (SRMR), recently established to protect and study the resident population of sharks, and in turn aid in the long-term conservation of sharks worldwide. Here, structured dives offer divers and researchers the unique opportunity to watch these amazing creatures in their natural habitat. There’s no better way to examine the relationship between sharks and humans than by diving in the water with these amazing creatures.
Under the instruction of professional divers, observe and study shark biology, behavior and physiology, as well as the physical characteristics of the resident sharks of the SRMR. Get familiar with the research methods used by professionals out in the field and hone your surveying techniques. Then take your newfound knowledge into the field as you scuba dive with silvertip, grey reef, black tip reef, bull and tawny nurse sharks. Experience the thrill of studying these amazing creatures up close as they cruise along the reef slope and ledge that drops off into the abyss of the Beqa Passage. Collect data on resident sharks, noting how many species of sharks you see on dives, the male to female ratio, who fed and which members of the named population showed up. Begin to identify the different sharks by name–Hook, Crook, Big Mamma and Blackbeard, and perhaps have the chance to name one yourself. Learn about the relationship between the reserve and local villages, and how the project overcame challenges to create a successful balance between shark conservation, dive tourism, the interests of village fisherman, the local economy and the government.
After a warm welcome and formal introduction to the chief by the village spokesman, partake in a kava ceremony and feast at a traditional lovo while listening to locals tell stories of the ancient Shark God, the fierce Dakuwaqa. Take part in meke, traditional Fijian singing and dancing, and soak in the rich cultural experience. Learn about village pastimes such as cooking, weaving and dancing. Play games with the friendly local children and give back to this beautiful place by assisting with a service learning project. Venture to the Fijian capital of Suva, with it’s museums and vibrant markets, immerse yourself in this unique culture, and begin to see and feel the importance and influence of sharks on Fijian culture and vice versa.
Back at the SRMR, continue your shark studies as you compile, summarize and discuss surveys and field research for your final projects. Talk about the role of sharks in the food chain and how they are critical to ocean ecosystems. Examine the negative impact of long line fishing, as well as the misrepresentation of sharks, from Hollywood movies to folktales and myths. Take a breather from shark diving and enjoy the vibrant reef life Fiji has to offer. Soft coral dives in the Beqa Lagoon abound with over 250 species of fish from tiny critters to large pelagics. Encounter blue ribbon eel, lionfish, jacks, giant groupers, octopus and scorpionfish on unforgettable dives.
Discover newfound confidence in your research skills. Now, you can dive down and clearly differentiate species by defining characteristics. You can speak to their importance in an ecosystem, and fully understand the role and function of a marine reserve. Complete your trip with a whitewater journey down the Middle Navua River and marvel at rapids cascading down a stunning canyon lined with black lava rock, vibrant jungle and dazzling waterfalls. A feast on your final night gives you the opportunity to reflect and celebrate all you have learned and experienced on this extraordinary South Pacific adventure.