Monday, 22 June 2020

Kadavu: Fiji’s Manta Ray Playground

Saturday, 23 May 2020

Beqa Adventure Divers Are Running Commercial Dives Again

Although Fiji's borders remain closed we can see a tiny light at the end of the tunnel.

The Marine Safety Authority has lifted the ban on marine clearances, and so we can now run commercial dives.  However without a constant influx of tourists, this means very little in the grand scheme of things, but we are focusing now on serving our local dive community.  We are very fortunate to be in a financial position to weather the storm of this pandemic.
For the last 2 months we have been running staff only dives: feeding the sharks, and conducting a portion of our current scientific research.  Additionally we are monitoring and enforcing the marine park by running anti-poaching patrols.  Having retained a majority of our staff, we continue to pay reduced wages.

International tourism will eventually resume, and in expectation of the re-opening of our sector, we would like to offer you an opportunity to purchase your next dives with us at exclusive and deeply discounted rates. 
This clients-only special would grant us a boost in terms of cash injection whilst giving you a nice savings which you can use for other adventures on your next trip to Fiji.
Beqa Adventure Divers

We believe that this offer is too good to miss, and hope you will consider it.

If so, please feel free to contact us for orders, but also for any questions and/or suggestions as we greatly value your feedback.
We look forward to hearing from you soon.  In the meantime, we send you our very best wishes during these difficult times.
Kindest Regards, 
Mike, Andrew & Natasha
Directors, Beqa Adventure Divers

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Tuesday, 12 May 2020

The importance of the Great Sea Reef

Mangrove patch area in Qoliqoli Cokovata. In 2018, the Fiji Government designated Qoliqoli Cokovata of the Great Sea Reef as a wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention. Picture: WWF-PACIFIC

THE Great Sea Reef (GSR) is the third-longest barrier reef system in the world spanning more than 200km from Udu point all the way to the Yasawa and Mamanuca Islands weaving its way towards the Coral Coast.

This reef system provides about 70 per cent of fish consumed locally and is an important tourist destination.

In Fiji, WWF’s focus is on protecting and conserving Fiji’s Great Sea Reef, a living icon for Fiji.

WWF-Pacific Great Sea Reef program manager Alfred Ralifo said WWF works with many stakeholders and partners to sustainably manage and protect GSR.

“As we use many conservation tools, lessons from other parts of the world and liaising with all partners and stakeholders, equal and inclusive participation in decision-making processes, facilitate good scientific surveys and research work to inform planning and policy, awareness and campaigns and promote and encourage the use of traditional knowledge and practices,” he said.

“Overall it’s about collaboration and inclusivity.”

The GSR is important to the people of Fiji and the Pacific and it’s under enormous threats and pressure.

“If we do not do anything about it then we are going to lose this reef system in the near future.

“The GSR is important to not only sustaining Fiji’s economy at the national level, but also at the grass-roots level. It is important for food and nutritional security for adaptation and building resilience to climate change. It’s an integral part of Fiji’s culture and identity.”

The GSR faces many threats from pollution, unsustainable agriculture and forestry (soil erosion, use of chemical pesticides and weedicides and deforestation), unsustainable tourism, unsustainable fishing, shipping industry, urban expansion – clearing of mangroves and coastal vegetation, waste water from factories and sewages.

“All these threats are compounded by the impacts of climate change – ocean acidification, overheating of the sea, sea-level rise, storm surges, hurricanes, etc.,” he said.

“If we do not protect and address these multiple threats we are going to lose this very important reef system including the fish and other sea creatures (corals, turtles, sharks, rays, shellfish, etc.) which are important to us.

“We won’t be able to protect ourselves against the impact of climate change. Our Fijian economy will be affected because we will lose our tourists and our fishing industry will collapse. Health and nutrition will also be a problem and incidents of poverty will rise.”

He said their work in Fiji and the Pacific was a small component of a larger movement across the globe where people are recognising that business, as usual, was creating more problems for the planet and for the people and benefitting the elite few.

“Business, as usual, is destroying the health of our planet earth, destroying our oceans, our rivers, our forest, our soil, the air we breathe and biodiversity. “Business, as usual, is making the rich richer and the poor, poorer.”

He said they are working with all stakeholders of the Great Sea Reef through fundraising, capacity building, and consultation and promoting sustainable and regenerative practices.

“We are creating awareness and advocating for policy change to ensure that there are enabling mechanism to support sustainable blue-green economies that are inclusive, transparent, focusing on the most vulnerable groups and communities first.

“We are creating awareness and ensuring that everyone has the ability to make informed decisions on how they should manage and sustainably use their natural resources.

“We are working to support the Fijian government in implementing its international commitments such as the sustainable development goals, the Paris Agreement and Convention of Biological Diversity, UN Oceans Conference to name a few.”

In 2018, Government had designated the Qoliqoli Cokovata of the Great Sea Reef as the wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.

“WWF-Pacifi c (my team and I) collaborated with the Fiji Government and with the traditional owners of Qoliqoli Cokovata of Macuata – the Tui Macuata and the people of Macuata, Sasa, Dreketi and Mali – to ensure that we complete the Ramsar designation process,” he said.

Qoliqoli Cokovata(QC) is now Fiji’s first coral reef Ramsar site which means that Government and the people of the Qoliqoli Cokovata are committed to ensuring that the QC is managed sustainably and used wisely.

Qoliqoli Cokovata Ramsar Site is a gift from the Tui Macuata and the people of Macuata, Dreketi, Sasa and Mali to the people of Fiji and the world.

Thursday, 30 April 2020

New Advice Cautions Against Rushed Return to Diving for Coronavirus Patients

coronavirus lungs title

Coronaviruses attack the respiratory system, and SARS-CoV-2 can cause serious damage to the lungs

The Coronavirus pandemic has already had a devastating impact on the scuba diving world – but there's another question on divers' minds: 'What happens if I get it? Can I dive after COVID-19?' And the answer is not straightforward.

An article published in the German magazine Wetnotes (click here for a Google Translated English version) on 15 April gives an insight into the medical problems that scuba divers who have contracted SARS-CoV-2 might face. In it, Dr Frank Hartig, a senior consultant and response crisis coordinator/disaster officer for SARS-CoV-2 at Innsbruck University Hospital in Austria – and a scuba diver himself – describes some of the problems he has already encountered as a physician.

The acronym SARS – as in SARS-CoV-2, the official name of COVID-19 – stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. SARS attacks the lungs, and while research into the long-term effects of the novel coronavirus is only just beginning, its physical impacts are all too tragically well known. Lung damage caused by conditions such as pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) has been widely reported. It is also known to attack other organs, including the heart, although cardiac damage may go unnoticed until the heart is actually checked. Although we might not know much about the coronavirus itself, it has long been established that scuba diving with a compromised cardiopulmonary system can lead to serious injury, even death.

In his article, Dr Hartig describes his involvement with six active scuba divers who were hospitalised with conditions brought on by SARS-CoV-2 and who subsequently recovered and were discharged. When they returned for a check-up several weeks later, they all outwardly appeared to be healthy, but a closer examination proved otherwise.

pulmonary oedema image

A build-up of fluid in the lungs can lead to the body being starved of oxygen

'The first checks of these six divers, who came to the check-up clinically healthy after 5 to 6 weeks, are interesting,' writes Dr Hartig (translated from German). 'In two of them, we saw significant oxygen deficiency when under stress as a typical sign of a persistent pulmonary shunt. In two others, bronchial tubes were still very irritable during exercise, as in asthmatics. Four of the six divers in the check-up CT [scan] still had significant lung changes. None of the six divers can be released for diving for the time being, despite their wellbeing.'

Exercise-induced asthma is a well-known contraindication to diving, and in layman's terms, a pulmonary shunt is when blood fails to pick up more oxygen as it passes through the lungs, which leads to the body being starved of oxygen. It is often caused by fluid in the lungs, also the result of pneumonia and pulmonary oedema, a condition becoming widely recognised as a leading cause of diver fatalities. 

At this stage, any questions over long-term damage to the lungs caused by SARS-CoV-2 would be entirely speculative, but it is clear from Dr Hartig's assessment that divers who have been affected by the coronavirus should not dive until they have had a thorough medical examination – even if they otherwise appear healthy. As Dr Hartig notes, if proper precautions are not taken, 'Young, COVID-healthy people who want to dive again quickly and appear healthy at first could [slip through our fingers].'

A report published on 12 April by the Belgian Society for Diving and Hyperbaric Medicine gives advice to scuba divers who may have contracted and recovered from Covid-19 based on current medical knowledge. To summarise, the report states that:

  1. Risk of Infection: Someone who has been infected with COVID-19 can still spread the virus to others. In a diving context that would be especially likely when conducting air sharing or rescue training exercises. Before returning to diving, divers should, therefore:
    • Wait a minimum of two, preferably three months, if they had symptoms of the virus 
    • Wait a minimum of one month if they tested positive for the virus but were asymptomatic.
    • Those who have not been tested and never had symptoms may still be susceptible to infection and should 'observe a waiting period' after lockdowns are lifted, which may be variable depending on location and type of diving.
    • Divers and dive centres should strictly observe guidelines for gear disinfection as distributed by DAN

  2. Risk of Pulmonary Barotrauma: People who have had COVID-19 may have significant damage to their lungs for an unknown period of time, possibly permanently, and therefore have an increased risk of pulmonary barotrauma – or lung overexpansion injury – even if they don't make rapid, breath-holding ascents. A diver who was hospitalised with lung-related problems should wait at least three months and undergo complete pulmonary function testing and a high-resolution CT scan of the lungs before returning to diving. Divers who had lung-related symptoms but were not hospitalised are still strongly recommended to have the test.

  3. Risk of Cardiac Events: Damage to the heart caused by COVID-19 may go unnoticed during the acute phase of the disease, but may lead to heart failure during diving. Therefore, it is recommended that a diver who was hospitalised with cardiac or pulmonary symptoms should, after the three-month waiting period, undergo a thorough cardiac evaluation with echocardiography and exercise testing (exercise electrocardiography – sometimes called the 'stress test'). Those who had symptoms but were not hospitalised are strongly advised to have the tests as well.

  4. Pulmonary oxygen toxicity: It appears that some COVID-19 patients' symptoms worsened after being given pure oxygen. Although little is known about an increased pulmonary sensitivity to oxygen, the report suggests it would be 'prudent' to avoid technical diving involving the prolonged breathing of hyperoxic gas with a pO2 of 1.3 ATA or higher. Simple nitrox diving (maximum pO2 of 1.4 ATA) should not present any problem.

  5. Decompression illness: tiny bubbles of inert gas form even on normal dives and are safely eliminated through the lungs during breathing. However, damage to the lungs may prevent the lungs' 'bubble filter' from working and lead to an arterial gas embolism or other form of decompression illness. Ddivers who have suffered from pulmonary symptoms of COVID-19 should, therefore, remain well within the no-decompression limits of their dives.

Click here for the full report (available in French, Dutch and English)

A complete assessment of the problems that divers might face following a COVID-19 / SARS-CoV-2 infection is undoubtedly many months away and, as Dr Hartig notes, any long-term medical advice will remain speculative until clinical trials have been conducted. 

In the short-term, however, the advice is clear. SARS-CoV-2 can damage the lungs and the heart. Scuba diving with damage to any part of the cardiovascular system can lead to serious injury and death. Much as we might all wish to rush back into the water as soon as we can, doing so without proper medical consideration may cause more harm than good.

Tuesday, 10 March 2020

The Famous Ane of "Ane's Bommie" fame on the Rainbow Reef Taveuni FIJI

Still diving in 2020, over 30 years of experience!
The Famous Ane of "Ane's Bommie" fame on the Rainbow Reef Taveuni FIJI

Monday, 24 February 2020

Fiji's Underwater Paradise

Volivoli Beach Resort was absolutely amazing

The views, grounds, and rooms were stunningly gorgeous! Nick, Steve, Simon and the entire Staff also did an outstanding job of taking care of our large group during the ScubaBoard Invasion 2019.

Ra Divers were on site for our diving and snorkeling

All we can say is what a pleasure with attention to detail from start to finish. The dive sites were healthy and absolutely beautiful! The famous Bligh waters were just gorgeous, with such a variety of animals and the soft coral was absolutely exquisite!

Here are some of the images captured while diving in your beautiful waters.
Vinaka to our friends till we see you again!
Dennis and Roxanne Harmon, Florida USA

Thursday, 31 October 2019

Sea Snake eating Moray Eel, Fiji (Laticauda colubrina vs. Gymnothorax sp.)

The banded snake krait (Laticauda colubrina) videotaped feeding on an eel (Gymnothorax sp.) in Fiji. Location was a patch reef off Pacific Harbour at a depth of about 30'. The krait had already killed the eel and was swallowing it when my wife, Marj Awai, found it.

Bruce Carlson video.

[taxonomy:binomial=Laticauda colubrina]

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Namena Marine Reserve photo competition for 2020 tags closes tomorrow

Individuals from around the world are invited to enter an underwater photo from the Namena Marine Reserve, in Fiji that contains a solitary animal or fish (see examples attached). You may submit up to five original photos along with a signed photography license agreement (see attached). All entries submitted on or before August 15, 2019 will have a chance to be featured on the 2020 Namena Marine Reserve Dive Tag with clear credit given to the photographer.

People come from around the globe, at great expense, to dive in the Namena Marine Reserve with exclusive dive operators. Our photo contest is a great opportunity to highlight your art to an international audience on a memorable token from their travels to Fiji. The dive tag program has been very successful over the past ten years and continues to show people from around the world that Namena is a special site where the native people of Kubulau have invested and take pride in the long-term protection of their resources. 

We acknowledge and appreciate your commitment to the Namena Marine Reserve and kindly request that you submit a photo for consideration. To submit a photo for the contest, please email your submissions to Peni Were at any time before August 15, 2019. If your photo is chosen, we will contact you to request a high-resolution version to be submitted by September 15, 2019. The winner will receive a dive tag featuring their winning photo.

Thank you in advance for your interest and participation. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. We look forward to seeing your spectacular photos. 

Vinaka vakalevu

Peni Were

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

FIJI Dive Fiesta 2019 dates announced

FIJI Dive Fiesta 2019 dates announced

8th - 15th May 2020

Monday, 5 August 2019

FIJI Nominated for DIVE Travel Awards 2019

FIJI has been shortlisted in the DIVE Travel Awards 2019 for top diving destination in the world. Click here to preview the Top 25 in each category.

The DIVE Travel Awards are Industry awards voted for by DIVE Magazine readers. The 2019 DIVE Travel Awards has seen 78 destinations, 470 dive centres or resorts, and 215 liveaboards nominated for the awards. The Top 25 in each category are now through to the final vote, which will remain open until 31 October and the overall winners will be announced at this year's  DEMA show on 14th November 2019 in Orlando, Florida

We would like to encourage all our Dive Members to click this link for the voting page:

The 2019 DIVE Travel Awards has seen 78 destinations, 470 dive centres or resorts, and 215 liveaboards nominated for the awards. The Top 25 in each category are now through to the final vote, which will remain open until 31 October. The overall winners will be announced at this year's DEMA show, held between 13 - 16 November in Orlando, Florida

As an added bonus, we have 50 free subscriptions to the digital issue of DIVE Magazine to give away for voting in the 2019 DIVE Travel Awards (terms and conditions apply). We've also changed the format this year to prevent spammers from meddling in our election - it's still pretty straightforward to enter but just in case you have any questions:

How to enter:
  1. Go to the box below and enter a valid e-mail address.
  2. If you are using a shared computer and someone has already voted, you may need to click the 'logout' button underneath the picture in the voting module  -  gleam logout button.
  3. Select your favourites from each category (you can vote for all 25 or just one if you wish) and press 'continue' to cast your vote. Select the next category and again pick your favourites.
  4. If you are using a shared computer or iPad remember to 'logout' at the end so the next person can vote.
The winners of the free digital subscriptions will be selected randomly from all those who voted after the voting is closed.