As you land in Fiji, the magnificent vistas barely prepare you for the adventure ahead. Eager to get in the water, head to Pacific Harbour for an orientation and introduction to the Shark Reef Marine Reserve, recently established to protect and study the resident population of sharks, and in turn aid in the long-term conservation of sharks worldwide. Structured dives offer divers and researchers the unique opportunity to watch these amazing creatures in their natural habitat.
Under the instruction of professional researchers, observe and study shark biology, behavior and physiology, as well as the physical characteristics of the resident sharks of the SRMR. 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 and input 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, Lindsay (named after a Broadreach instructor) 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, and immerse yourself in this unique culture.
Back at the SRMR, continue your shark studies as you compile, summarize and discuss surveys and field research for your final project. Talk about the role of sharks in the food chain and how they are critical to ocean ecosystems. Examine the negative impact of longline fishing, as well as the misrepresentation of sharks from Hollywood movies to folk tales and myths. Take a break 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.
Complete your trip with a visit to a river village and a whitewater journey down the the Middle Navua River on an inflatable kayak. The roaring rapids cascade 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 celebrate all you have learned and experienced on this extraordinary South Pacific adventure.