Thursday, 30 October 2008

The island which played a role when Fiji was ceded to Britain - Fiji Times Online

Sunday, March 30, 2008
NO one really knows what is happening to Fiji's Alcatraz - Nukulau. 
At one time, there were talks of turning the historic prison island back to a once-upon-a-time popular picnic spot.

However, many people have limited knowledge about the history of Nukulau Island.
The island was a picnic spot until 2000 when coup plotters were kept there as prisoners.

Nukulau is off the Laucala waterfront and is a 15-minute boat ride from Suva Point.

George Speight, Jo Nata and others will always remember Nukulau for they were imprisoned there as political prisoner Nelson Mandela was on Robben Island.
But while Mandela spent more than two decades on Robben island, Speight and his band were transferred to Naboro prison.

Nukulau Island played a role in the ceding of Fiji to Britain in 1874.
The island was owned by the American Consul John Brown Williams in 1846. The funny thing is that Williams had bought the island for a mere 30 dollars. He lived there in a wooden two-storey house he built, for three years.
On July 4, 1849, his store was destroyed in a fire which started from a canon burst during American Independence Day celebrations.

When his store burned, natives looted the few belongings he salvaged.
Six years later, another fire destroyed his house and this time, Williams held Ratu Seru Cakobau, the Vunivalu of Bau and self-proclaimed Tui Viti (King of Fiji) responsible for the looting.

With the support of the United States Navy, Williams demanded Cakobau pay $US43,531 in compensation for his losses which were valued at $US5000 plus claims by other settlers.

Cakobau's inability to pay the debt led to a series of negotiations with the United Kingdom resulting in the decision to cede the Fiji Islands to the UK in 1874. Historians believe the debt was deeply exaggerated and largely fabricated. The history of Nukulau did no tend with the commencement of British colonial rule. Between 1879 and 1916, the island served as a quarantine centre for thousands of Indian indentured labourers brought in by the British. They were either employed in Fiji's sugar plantations or sent back to India after health checks.

A prison was opened on the island on July 21, 2000, two months after a coup.
The prison was home for coup frontman Speight and former journalist Josefa Nata.

On December 18, 2006, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama decided to close the prison and convert the island to a public park.

The island prison was decommissioned because of the excessive costs of maintenance such as the provision of two boats provided by the Prisons department costing about $160,000 in 2001. Commodore Bainimarama had said the Prisons department had to stretch its resources to cater for extra fuel and maintenance of the boats. The total cost of operating the boats alone came to $100,000 a year.

Present and future
The decommissioning of Nukulau prison paved the way for possible tourism openings.

The Suva City Council has expressed interest in securing a lease from the landowners to transform Nukulau to a cruise destination. The possible introduction of a ferry service between the island and Suva harbour would boost tourism in the capital.

The acting assistant director for the Lands department, Laisa Raratabu, said the island was a picnic spot again.

She said if people wanted to enjoy a day on the island, they have to apply to the department.

"The fee is $2 a person. There are rules people need to follow. The money from the fees or charges is revenue for the Government," said Ms Raratabu.
The divisional surveyor Central/ Eastern, Peni Racava, said the fees helped to maintain the island. There is a caretaker on the island.

"There have been a lot of interest shown by individuals and shipping businesses. From what we gather from tourist agencies, many tourists want to visit the island.

"Locals go there for a picnic and it is open from 7am to 5pm. Tourists are charged $5 a head. People wanting to visit the island should write to management stating the reason for going to the island. They have to find their own way to the island and back."

There are several thatched bure on the island and cooking places.
The barbed wires, prison dormitories, fencing and all indications to suggest the island was a prison have been removed.

Now, Nukulau is a hideaway for picnickers or divers wanting to explore the coral reef.

Managing and maintaining our coral reefs
Fiji's Great Reef or Cakaulevu is the longest and most complex reef system in the Fiji Islands.

It is also the third longest barrier reef system in the world. It runs along the shelf edge in a near continuous chain for more than 200 kilometres converging toward the coast of Fiji's second largest island, Vanua Levu
An estimated 202,700 square kilometres of the Fiji archipelago are coral reef habitats.

This underwater pride is estimated to represent 9 per cent of coral reefs of the Pacific and 3.5 per cent of the total area of coral reefs in the world.
There are about 298 species of scleractinian coral recorded with 475 species of mollusc and 60 species of ascidian in Fiji.

A total of 1208 species of fish have been recorded within Fiji and most of these are associated with coral reefs.

All these findings and records are the reasons coral reefs are important.
The alarming decline of the Earth's coral habitats through cyclones, disease, predators and volcanic eruptions harm reefs and corals.

However, even after such catastrophe, corals tend to regenerate.
Two other critical factors to coral reef decline are the high percentage of carbon-dioxide in the atmosphere and rising sea temperatures.
These two factors may cripple coral's ability to recover.

Other threats to the Great Reef include over-fishing and poaching by illegal fishers, fish poisoning, siltation of near-shore environment caused by erosion and upland activities, dredging of sand for construction purposes, use of small-mesh fishing nets and use of hookah for beche-de-mer collection.
One way to address this devastating environmental issue is practising coral reef maintenance or management.

This is where 20 youths representing four different communities in Fiji come into the picture.

They participated in a Fiji country program community survey methods training instigated by the World Wildlife Fund.

The youths are from Kabara, Malomalo and eight from Ono-i-Lau. Despite coming from different districts, the youths are connected to their coastal environment.

For the past three weeks, the youths have been trained in diving by certified divers on Nukulau Island for a week.

The aim of the training program was to allow the youths to apply all of their training and theory work exercises when they go back to their island communities.

The training will make them better monitor their respective island reefs.
WWF community coral reef survey team leader Monifa Fiu said the youths were chosen by their village heads.

She said the dive training involved coral reef survey methods based on a worldwide methodology to determine the health of reefs.

"The training was an orientation of that methodology. This is not the first time we have worked with members of different communities.

"Part of our work is visiting the various communities and enlightening them on our work. We used to work with small groups of four but this is the first time we had a combination of youths from four different communities.
"The youths have a lot in common and they not only get the opportunity to share their fishing skills but will be able to learn more about the different coral life forms.

"We had three dive operators helping with the training. They are very natural when it comes to diving but with diving there are certain procedures to follow. They also learn about these procedures."

Ms Fiu said dive practice included going out to the reef where groups of four divers would practise coral reef survey methods. She said the youths were taught data collecting.

Ms Fiu said the work of WWF on managing and maintaining healthy coral reefs was part of their message on good environmental practices.
"In each group, the members are paired-up. They are always in pairs, no one swims alone.

"Two divers would be at one coral point while the other two would lay the tape measuring 50 metres to another coral point. Once the tape is set out, one pair would swim to the end of the tape and conduct a fish count.
"Once they reach the other side, the other pair would swim to the other side counting inverts such as clams and lobsters in between the coral reef.
"In the process, data is being recorded with every survey or training.
"Data is important. It determines basic information regarding the health of the reef, status of fish life and management ideologies on maintaining the reef.

"Not only has the training provided them with a general background and understanding the ecology of reefs but it will also give the participants information about survey methods of coral reefs and explore the potential of coral reef bleaching and monitoring of their local reefs."
She said one of the objectives was to enhance village-level coral reef management by training customary resource owners in low-tech, locally tailored, coral reef monitoring.

Ms Fiu said good environmental practices would be more meaningful if carried out by the different communities.

She said by doing so the environmental messages would be much stronger and they were planning to get more people involved and become aware of the roles they can play in monitoring the health of coral reefs.

One of the youths, Josese Voce from Malomalo in Nadroga, said he was happy to be part of the WWF-funded training.

He said he was used to free diving in the village and did not know the ecology of coral reefs until he joined the program.

For Josese, diving is an aspect of life in the village. Not only is it a hobby, it is also a job especially for villagers depended on food from the sea.

"I learned a lot about the different species of fish and corals.

"When I used to dive in the village, I already knew about the corals and fish but to go deeper and learn about the different kinds was new to me.
"I plan to teach others in my village the things I have learnt, especially in caring for the coral reef and the importance of having a healthy coral reef.
"I feel this is important because we depend so much on the sea for our livelihood and food.

"Learning about coral reef survey methods is also interesting. Even diving with equipment was new. I don't use the kind of equipment for diving such as gas tanks and flippers.

"Free dive is different because we don't have gas tanks and it is hard.
"We learn how to use gas tanks and they monitor how much air we use. It helps us control our breathing under water."

The 17-year-old said being a certified diver was a golden opportunity to find employment in the tourism industry.

He hopes to act as a tourist guide for his village.

The Great Reef fringes the entire coast of Macuata province in Vanua Levu.
To date, of the total number of species recorded in Fiji from any one area,
Cakaulevu has the highest percentage recorded including 55 per cent of the known coral reef fish in Fiji, 74 per cent of the known coral species in Fiji, 40 per cent of the known marine flora in Fiji and 44 per cent of Fiji's endemic reef fish species.

The island which played a role when Fiji was ceded to Britain - Fiji Times Online

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Tokoriki Diving, Fiji: Tokoriki Diving: Tokoriki Island Resort Marine Reserve

Tokoriki Diving, Fiji: Tokoriki Diving: Tokoriki Island Resort Marine Reserve

In December 2006 the fringing reef in front of Tokoriki Island Resort was declared a “tabu” or marine reserve.

This means that inside the boundaries no fishing is allowed whether by spear or handline and no removal of clams, other shell fish etc is permitted. Judging from evidence at other marine reserves elsewhere in Fiji we can expect a marked increase in fish populations in as little as twelve months.

As the Tokoriki fringing reef is already very healthy we are expecting great things in the near future. Daily snorkel and dive trips visit the marine reserve area.

Tokoriki Diving, Fiji: Tokoriki Diving: Tokoriki Island Resort Marine Reserve

Monday, 27 October 2008

Scuba Diving Magazine - Fiji In Living Color

At two passages in the soft-coral capital of the world, strong currents make for eye-popping reefs.
Photo by Michele Westmorland

In still waters, normally brilliant colonies of Dendronephthya soft coral retract into protective, knobby fists, and a reef that's a Jolly-Rancher-colored spectacle in normal conditions becomes a mundane rockscape. But when currents push fast-moving water over a soft-coral reef, these assemblages of tiny animals unfurl their jewel-toned branches to feed on the nutrients that ride those currents. Put your mask close to a soft coral tree to find each colony of Dendronephthya plumping itself up, taking on water to filter for food until its translucent membrane practically glows. Then, for a more expansive view, move two fin-kicks away from a soft-coral-covered wall when the current is running--the stronger the better--and you will find one of the most spectacular sights under the sea.

If you want to find soft corals, pack your gear for the 300-plus islands of Fiji. And if you want to find reefs washed by swift currents and everything that means--forests of soft corals, thriving hard corals, a mind-boggling diversity of species and tornadoes of schooling fish--look at a map of Fiji and find the places where water accelerates through narrow passages with every tidal change. In that fast water, divers sometimes have to kick hard just to stay in one place, and soft-coral sites literally come to life.

Where can you find a regularly occurring perfect storm of these conditions and some of the most visually engaging reefs in the world? Fiji's Somosomo Strait and Vatu-i-Ra Passage.

Scuba Diving Magazine - Fiji In Living Color

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Divernet | Fiji | Colours of the rainbow

After his report from Fiji in June on what must be the most remarkable shark-feed around, John Bantin turns his attention to these Pacific islands' outstanding "static" life. His quarry might be static, but the water in which it lives is anything but

STRADDLING THE 180° MERIDIAN, Fiji is conveniently 12 hours ahead of the UK. When it's this morning in Fiji, it's last night at home.

Also conveniently, Fiji is a group of islands sitting in the Pacific Ocean en route between New Zealand and Los Angeles, USA.

The second largest island is called Vanua Levu and the third largest, Taveuni. Look at a map and you will notice that the channel between them, known as Somosomo Strait, takes the shape of a funnel.

As the water flows back and forth at the mercy of ocean currents and the tides, it is squeezed so that it speeds up. This provides perfect conditions in which colourful soft corals (dendronephythia) flourish. The reef system that straddles the strait is called, predictably, Rainbow Reef.

Fiji is a lush tropical country and Taveuni is the land of fruit bats and the tallest Fijian coconut palms.

I stayed at the Maravu Plantation Resort in a luxurious bure (pronounced boo-ray), a traditional Fijian bungalow complete with its own private sundeck and water spa.

This was set on a hillside overlooking the strait, and surrounded by a dense tropical jungle. There were 77 sweat-drenching steps from there down to the beach.

Sweat or rain? I am told that Fiji has no harmful creatures on land other than malaria-free mosquitoes, but this dense green landscape enjoys a copious supply of rain and that didn't spare me either, during my few days' stay in February.

From DIVERNET Divernet | Fiji | Colours of the rainbow

ANZ supports marine conservation - Fiji Times Online

Fijis leading commercial bank, ANZ says it will continue to support the protection and conservation of the marine resources of the countrys tourism mecca, the Mamanuca Group, reports Pacnews.
ANZs General Manager, Robert Bell, was on Castaway Island last Friday to prove the banks commitment with a $25,000 presentation to the Mamanuca Environment Society (MES).

"Your work deserves to be promoted. It is good to see that tourist operators are supporting marine conservation and is a sign that tourism is progressing and contributing towards the economy," he said.

ANZ is a gold sponsor to the non governmental organisation that was set up in 2002 to address environmental issues in the region.

Recent MES projects include water quality monitoring, reef check surveys, liquid waste management as well as education awareness and dialogue with stakeholders at community and commercial levels.

"We are happy with the financial support we are getting. It is assisting us to implement projects that we hope will protect and preserve the marine environment of the Mamanuca Group, something that tourists keep coming back for," said Betani Salusalu, MES project manager.

One of the major projects undertaken by MES is the conservation of turtle in and around islands in the Mamanuca.

"We are working with the Institute of Marine Resources to conduct a survey on all islands in the Mamanucas for turtle breeding and nesting sites," he said.

In March this year, the Society satellite tagged and released into the ocean a Hawksbill turtle, named Adi Mamanuca from Treasure Island.

MES, through satellite, is monitoring its movement, which it says appear to be moving around between Fijis main islands.

Fiji has a five- year moratorium which bans the commercial harvest and sale of sea turtles.
The moratorium is expected to expire this year.

ANZ supports marine conservation - Fiji Times Online

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Bai protects marine life

Bai protects marine life


WHEN you talk about diving whether it be scuba or free diving, Bai Whippy knows everything about it like the back of his hands.

They say home is where the heart is but for 56-year-old Bai, as he prefers to be called, it’s obviously the sea which has been an integral part of his entire life.

Nestled in the pristine blue waters off Kadavu is a small island called Galoa on which the Whippy family resides.

Bai’s great-grandfather was a boat builder who came from America and settled on Galoa after he built a sailboat for the local chief.

“After building the boat for the chief he was given this piece of land which we are now living on, and then my father also become a boat builder and married a local woman,” he said.

It’s not only diving that Bai is passionate about but everything about the sea and its protection.

He believes in conserving the environment especially protecting the marine life and its habitat.

“I love diving and going down to see the beautiful creatures and be in that environment where you forget everything because everything is silent and very peaceful,” he said.

Bai is Kadavu’s first scuba diver, an honour he first held when he was just 18-years-old and age has not deterred him from this passion.

He said a European couple encouraged him to take up diving lessons which he did and received an open water certificate, then to the advanced stages of rescue certificate, dive master certificate and now a dive instructor.

Whippy loves to show people who love to dive the fish that live in the nearby reefs.

“We have manta rays (large ray fish with wide pectoral fins, a long tail and two fins resembling horns that project from the head) on those reefs,” he said pointing out to the sea.

The manta rays were about 12 feet or less and fed on planktons or a mass of tiny animals and plants floating in the sea or in lakes, usually near the surface and eaten by fish and other water animals.

He said they would come around, summersault, float and at times stay still as the divers watched them.

“We also have sharks with white tips which are about six feet long,” he said. And then there is a place we call the ‘supermarket’ because one could see so many different types of table corals in different colours which is like going to a supermarket, “ he proudly said.

“And then there is the lettuce garden which is also made up of corals.”

Galoa Island is very close to the island of Kadavu and the calm waters that separate it from the main island is frequently used by large boats for shelter whenever there is a storm warning.

It is also a nesting area for sea turtles. It has a vast area of mangroves, which provide a protective breeding habitat for crabs and fish.

Whippy said that in the ‘60s and ‘70s, people would just fish along the coast and only spent a few hours to bring in their catches. But now they have to go out further to catch enough fish for the family.

“We also have a lot of people not from this area who dive at night in our reefs and they are taking everything they find. They take sea cucumbers, sea slugs as well and anything they can sell,” he said.

“Even turtles can hardly be seen now and in the ‘60s, our people used to look for turtle eggs here. They would just take sticks and start poking in the sand and whenever they hit something soft, they will start digging and then the eggs would be there.

“But now we realize how important those eggs are and also the importance of the reefs so we have stopped. Because I take tourists and friends to see the corals and fish I know the importance of conservation.

In the village when we sit around a bowl of kava I would tell them the importance of corals and creatures in the ocean.”

He also advises them on the importance of watching where they place their anchors when
out fishing and use of “duva” or poisonous plants.

However, he said the best way of conservation is the use of “moka” which is a traditional fishing method in which stone walls are placed around a reef which is usually near the foreshore. At low tide the fish are trapped inside that is when the bigger fish will be taken out and the smaller ones left in. For bigger functions used the “yavi rau” or the fish drive in which only leaves and vines are used as nets and only big fish are caught.

He said people should always be reminded on the proper methods of catching fish.

The dumping of plastic bags into the sea also used to be a problem in the village but now each tribe has its own pits in which they place their rubbish.

“We used to use paper bags before and then the plastic bags were brought in but I think the best one was the use of woven coconut baskets usually used by our mothers to carry food,” said Whippy.

Mangroves is also important to people of Galoa because they believe that is the reason they have so many mud crabs and fish.

“We do not cut them for firewood but when the old bakery was working many years ago they used to cut mangroves for its firewood,” he said.

“When we used to sell copra we also used mangroves for firewood because of its heat. The roots of mangroves are also used as firewood and the trunk as dye for tapa.”

Whippy concludes that children have to be taught by parents on the importance of conservation and not to be idle.

He said when children wake up in the morning they should do a chore first before breakfast and learn to be responsible especially on the dumping of rubbish.

“That is what I teach my children and I was also taught that by my parents. The turaganikoro or the village headman should be the first one up in the morning and see that the village is always clean.”

He also emphasised that parents should be role models for their children and see that they have healthy habits and conserve.

Bai also has a boarding house on his property which could house 12 people and says he is lucky that he has a group that comes in every year from Europe, but he also welcomes locals who want to visit his home.

This way Bai believes people could learn to appreciate the wonders of the ‘underworld’ and importance of protecting our marine environment.

Alumeci Nakeke

Fiji Daily Post: News Features - NAKEKE - Bai protects marine life

Scuba Diving Locations In Fiji

The islands of Fiji are famous for its spectacular scenery and a world class attraction for sea sports such as big game fishing, snorkeling, sailing and scuba diving. Fiji is a favorite scuba diving location for scuba divers from all over the world and its highlights include a fantastic variety of colorful soft corals, more than 1200 species of fish, 12 species of whales and dolphins.

There are also many scuba diving resorts in Fiji which cater to all kinds of budgets and divers. Alternatively divers can choose live aboard dive boats or if you are a tourist on vacation in Fiji do not know how to scuba dive, you can take up lessons there or simply go snorkeling off the pristine beaches.

Read whole article here: Scuba Diving Locations In Fiji

Friday, 24 October 2008

Fiji on the Fly

Fiji offers tropical island splendor and an appealing native culture, but what is a scuba diver to expect in Fijian waters? For starters, consider that Fiji advertises itself as "the Soft Coral Capitol of the World" for a very good reason. Reef cruisers, wide-angle photographers, and snorkelers will revel in the size, quality, and variety of colorful soft corals; and the hard corals that make up the reef structure are equally verdant. Keep in mind though, that these soft corals are so prosperous due to Fiji's substantial currents and tidal changes that bring sustenance to the reef. Fiji's population of tropical fishes is broad and beautiful, and invertebrates abound. I saw more unusual nudibranchs here than anywhere I can remember, though this may be due to Murphy's Law of underwater photography, because I carried the wide-angle Nikonos 15mm on most dives. We also saw our share of larger fish, barracuda, various jack, mackerel, tuna, and reef sharks. On a previous trip, our party saw migrating whales from the boat, and the possibility is always there to see manta rays or even a hammerhead.

Time of year plays a major factor in Fijian diving, as water temperature and visibility vary greatly with the seasons. Fiji is south of the equator, and thus the seasons are reversed from our own. The rainy season officially begins in December and ends in March. (January and February are traditionally the rainiest months.) The best time for dive tourism begins in mid April and runs through December. The water temperature in April can be in the low to mid eighties, and decreases as the year progresses. By November, the water can be down in the mid seventies. As a rule, visibility varies inversely with water temperature. In April, the warm water fosters plankton growth, somewhat reduced visibility, and more large pelagic activity, such as plankton feeding whales and mantas. Later in the year, as water temperature drops the visibility increases. So, after all this pedantry, when's the best time to go diving in Fiji? In my years of personal experience as a dive traveler, the absolute best time to go diving is "last week" or "next week," so go when you can sneak the money and the vacation time, stay wet, be sure to do your safety deco stops, and ENJOY!

Fiji on the Fly

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Major Training Agency Launches Universal Retailer Promotion


In an effort to increase Dive Center’s walk in traffic and create an opportunity for retailers to present product, travel and services to their diving consumers face to face, Scuba Diving International ™ (SDI) and Technical Diving International ™ (TDI) have unveiled this simple yet effective retailer traffic and business building promotion.

Divers will be asked to visit and simply fill out some very basic information about themselves as well as their favorite local Dive Center. As a special thanks for their commitment and dedication to the recreation of diving SDI/TDI will in turn send two FREE NITROX TANK WRAPS to the diver’s favorite facility.

The offer is truly FREE; there is no shipping, no handling or any fees applied. The consumer is asked to please allow 2-3 weeks for delivery to permit the anticipated volume of orders to be met.

The Retailer then has the opportunity to receive an “additional visit” from the dive consumer when they stop in to get their FREE NITROX TANK WRAPS!
This promotion IS OPEN TO ALL DIVE INDUSTRY RETAILERS (to receive consumer traffic) in a gesture of unity and dedication to the industry, as well as ALL DIVE CONSUMERS (to receive FREE Nitrox Tank Bands). Cris Merz National Sales Manager had this to say about the promotion, “It is a pleasure to be able to give something back to the diving public, after all this is a $14 value excluding any other related fees and it is absolutely FREE”. When questioned about the “wisdom” of making this available to ALL RETAILERS Merz further added, “A rising tide raises all ships, if we can do a small gesture that will better the retail environment then ultimately we all win”
Retailers can choose to participate absolutely FREE by helping spread the word via their blogs, store Newsletters and store signage by directing divers to giving the Retailer yet another opportunity to communicate with his/her customer. It is an easy way for any Retailer to take ownership of this promotion and capitalize on the good will that goes hand in hand with FREE!

For information about Scuba Diving International or Technical Diving International, contact International Training at (207) 729-4201 or b y visiting their website at Scuba Diving International™ (SDI) is the sport diving certification branch of the world’s largest technical diving agency, Technical Diving International™ (TDI). Also included in our family of training solutions is Emergency Response Diving International™ (ERDI), the only global public safety certification agency.

Others follow… SDI, TDI, ERDI leads

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Environmental Organizations and Partners Announce Blue Divers Alliance Launch at DEMA08!

Green groups want to help you improve your business and promote ocean health.

In an effort to heighten awareness about ocean health and inspire new divers, a network of ocean organizations, industry representatives, dive operators, and affiliated partners have banded together to form the Blue Divers Alliance and will be unveiling their program to DEMA 08 attendees in Las Vegas, from October 22-26, 2008.

The Blue Divers Alliance seeks to engage and inform the dive community about marine conservation, stewardship and responsible diving using existing member programs, communications tools, and by forming innovative new partnerships. The Alliance fosters improved business opportunities for participating members and promotes diver involvement in Alliance partner programs.

Learn more about the Blue Divers Alliance and it’s members at their inaugural DEMA seminar on Saturday, October 25, from 11am-12pm in Room S207: “The Blue Divers Alliance; Promoting Ocean Health and Dive Business Wealth.”

Founding Alliance partners include: Beautiful Oceans, Coral Reef Alliance; Dive Training Magazine; Keys Association of Dive Operators; NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary Program; Ocean Conservancy; Reef Check Foundation; Reef Environmental Educational Foundation (REEF); Reef Relief; Smoody Foundation; Sustainable Travel International; and The Ocean Foundation, with support from numerous others like the Divers Alert Network, Oceana, Project AWARE Foundation, and The Nature Conservancy.

The Blue Divers Alliance welcomes DEMA attendees’ participation and feedback. For more information about how to get involved, please visit the Blue Divers Alliance partner booths, seminars, or look out for the launch of their new web site:

DEMA Seminar Titles and Times:

To better navigate the blue waters of DEMA in Las Vegas, the following is a short list of environmentally-themed seminars hosted by Alliance partners and other organizations, followed by a list of member organizations and their websites.

Wednesday Oct 22 – 10:00AM-11:15AM, Thursday & Friday at 4:30 PM - 5:45 PM,(ROOM S232) and Saturday, 8:30am-9:30AM (ROOM S233)

“Born in the Wrong Sea - What Do We Know, What Can We Do?” Indo-pacific lionfish have invaded the Atlantic. Speakers: Lad Akins and Lisa Mitchell, REEF; Andy Dehart, National Aquarium

Thursday Oct 23 – 11am-12 pm (ROOM S207)

Beautiful Oceans, Inc.: “The Club Med Coral Reef Adventures Experience – GPS Coral Reef Mapping 101 and how 3D Coral Reef Maps Make A Difference to Customers”, Speaker: Stephan Becker, CEO

Friday, Oct 24 — 8:30 AM - 9:30 AM (ROOM S233)

DEMA Espresso Education Session: “Dive into the International Year of the Reef," Speakers: Greg Hodgson, Reef Check Foundation and Francis Staub, IYOR Coordinator

Friday Oct 24 11:00am-12:00pm (ROOM S207)

Beautiful Oceans, Inc: “The 2009 GPS Coral Reef Mapping Packages: Learn More About the ‘All-inclusive’, ‘Stand-alone’ and ‘Do-It-Yourself’ packages including testimonials from divers and dive professionals”. Speaker: Stephan Becker, CEO

Saturday, Oct. 25 —11:00AM-12:00pm (ROOM S207)

“The Blue Divers Alliance: Promoting Ocean Health and Dive Business Wealth”. What is the Blue Divers Alliance and how can it Help You and Your Dive Business? Speakers: Alliance Founding Members & Representatives; Chris Knight, Monika Thiele (TOF), and Bob Holston (KADO).

For more information about our Alliance Members and their programs, please see:

Founding Members of the Blue Divers Alliance

Beautiful Oceans – [Booth 3541]

Coral Reef Alliance –

Dive Training Magazine – [Booth 1545]

Keys Association of Dive Operators– [Booth 349]

NOAA National Marine Sanctuary Program –

Ocean Conservancy –

Reef Check Foundation

Reef Environmental Educational Foundation (REEF) – [Booth 2202]

Reef Relief -

Smoody Foundation –

Sustainable Travel International —

The Ocean Foundation –

With Support From Our Friends at….

Divers Alert [Booth 303/403]

Oceana – [Booth 1200]

Project AWARE

The Nature Conservancy –


Scuba Diving In Fiji Islands

The islands of Fiji are well known for its spectacular scenery and world class attraction for sea sports such as big game fishing, snorkeling, sailing and scuba diving.

Fiji is a favorite scuba diving location for many scuba divers from all over the world and its highlights include a fantastic variety of colorful soft corals, more than 1200 species of fish, 12 species of whales and dolphins.

There are also many scuba diving resorts in Fiji which cater to all kinds of budgets and divers. Alternatively divers can choose live aboard dive boats or if you are a tourist on vacation in Fiji do not know how to scuba dive, you can take up lessons there or simply go snorkeling off the pristine beaches.

Read whole article here: Scuba Diving In Fiji Islands

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Travel Articles by Adventure Brat | Home

MANTA MAGIC - Scuba in Fiji
Category: Scuba
Price: $895.00
Availability: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December
Location: Kadavu Island, Fiji
Side note Great Discount if booked by September 30!
Trip Overview
Eco dive experience. Stay at quaint ocean's edge resort, and enjoy diving the Great Astrolabe Reef - the world's third largest fringing reef. An amazing scuba experience!

Day 1
Upon arrival at Nadi Airport you can relax, grab a cappuccino or iced mocha while you wait for your scenic flight to depart to remote Kadavu Island.

Once in Kadavu's Vunisea Airport, you will catch a "water taxi" to Matava Resort - the Astrolabe Hideaway. Rest, relax and enjoy your untouched surroundings. Meals: D

Days 2-5
6 tank dives on the Great Astrolabe Reef and surrounding area. An amazing array of sea life, a profusion of soft and hard corals, great visibility, and a great fun staff. Meals: B, L, D

Day 6
A leisurely morning, then catch the water taxi to the airport, for your flight back to Nadi. Explore Nadi town, or ask us to arrange a day room for your convenience. Meals: B, L

Package based on superior ocean view bure. Based on per person, double occupancy, single supplement applies. Prices available through March, 2009, but must book by September 30, 2008. Package is all inclusive of diving, accommodations, meals and transfers, no refunds for unused days. Great airfare rates from US or Australia departure cities - just ask!
Please contact our sales offices for more information and to book
Travel Articles by Adventure Brat | Home

Monday, 20 October 2008

Scuba Diving Magazine - The Heart of Fiji

Welcome to Bligh Water and the Koro Sea, where fast currents, colorful soft corals and abundant sharks add up to serious diving fun.

Whenever people ask, "Where's your favorite place to dive?" my answer is always the same: "Fiji--because no matter how great I tell you it is, it will exceed your expectations."

There has never been a better time to dive this Pacific archipelago of some 300 islands scattered over one million square miles of ocean. There are plenty of options for getting here, staying here and diving here, but the islands are still blessedly free of the crush of cruise ships, wall to wall dive shops, jaded locals and overdevelopment. Add to the mix Fiji's fascinating culture, exceptionally friendly people and lush, mountainous topside landscape, then throw in for good measure the nearly 400 coral species and over 1,200 varieties of fish, and this island nation is quite possibly the perfect destination for divers.

Scuba Diving Magazine - The Heart of Fiji

PADI Instructor Development Course in Fiji, 21st – 29th November 2008

A quick reminder that deposits are due for the PADI Instructor Development Course by the 15th October 2008.
Please find the details of the courses on offer below:

Instructor Preparation Course (IPC) (optional)

15th-19th November F$650

Whilst the IPC is optional it is highly recommended as a means of ensuring you are well prepared for the IDC. We cover the examination topics (Physics, Physiology, RDPs, Skills & Environment and Dive Equipment) (Please note that these topics are NOT covered during the IDC. If you do not complete the IPC you MUST come to the IDC with a thorough understanding of these subjects). We also cover Skill Demonstrations, Systems Standards and Procedures, Teaching in the Classroom and Confined Water and the Rescue Demonstration required during the IE. If you are in any doubt about your preparation for the IDC please take this course. It really does make a difference)

Instructor Development Course (IDC)

21st – 29th November F$1850

The IDC covers not only information essential for you to pass the Instructor Examinations, but also vital information to enable you to become a successful professional within the dive industry.

Instructor Examination (IE)

1st-2nd November AUD$675

The IE is the final step in becoming a PADI Instructor. It consists of two days of evaluation on topics covered during the IPC and IDC. PADI also require candidates to pay boat fees for the Open Water sections of the IE in addition to the IE fee.

Please note that the above fees include tuition tanks and weights ONLY. All other required equipment and materials MUST be provided by the candidates. (Required materials and equipment list will be sent to interested candidates)

We require a F$300 deposit to ensure your place on the course(s) (This is NON REFUDABLE unless the course is cancelled by Viti Water Sports or the candidate produces a medical report signed by a physician stating they are unable to attend the course) All materials can be ordered through Viti Water Sports at very competitive prices.

As proper preparation is ESSENTIAL for the program and a considerable amount of SELF STUDY is REQUIRED prior to the start date it is highly recommended that you acquire the required materials and start your preparation ASAP.

PADI Assistant Instructors and Instructors from other organizations can become eligible to attend the IE by completing an OWSI course. 26th-30th November F$1250

We will also be conducting an IDC Staff Instructor Course. 20th-30th November F$850

A full range of PADI Courses will be available following the IE (e.g. EFR Instructor, Specialty Instructor etc.)

Any questions can be forwarded to me at this email address or by phone (679) 9233865

Best Regards,
Andrew Redfern
PADI Course Director
Viti Water Sports
(679) 9233865

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Welcome Carl and Muriel!

Paradise and Pro Dive Taveuni have been joined by 2 new faces - Carl and Muriel Fox.

Carl and Muriel have been living on Taveuni and running a dive operation on the island for several years. They have recently joined forces with Paradise - bringing with them a wealth of experience and passion for Taveuni's reefs.

Carl's specialty is the Rainbow Reef dive sites while Muriel directs operations with the boys at the Dive Shop.

We welcome them both to Paradise and look forward to many enjoyable dives with them.

Post dive locked-up toilet after the night before!

After one of our heavy dive weekends involving plenty of roti and fried cassava, one of the most common household plumbing problems we end up[ with in the dive house is the blocked-up toilet.

To fix your plumbing problem you need to find a plumber who can fix your emergency in a jiffy. Finding plumbers that genuinely concerned about the quality of their work and about pleasing their customer is a big challenge. When hiring a plumber for a big project, find someone who will do a high quality job at a good price and also be available for emergencies.

If you live in Dallas Texas like my friend Alison and suddenly need a Dallas plumbing service, you can find it by online on the internet, check out the internet simply by typing Dallas plumber into your favorite search engine.

You will come up with a list of local plumbers, or you can visit

New Innovations in Dive Gear - Undercurrent, March 2008

from the March, 2008 issue of Undercurrent

Wireless data, text messaging and iTunes are now being found underwater. Manufacturers are putting these latest high-tech innovations into dive gear.

Initially designed for U.S. Special Forces, the Datamask from Oceanic Worldwide is touted as the first “heads up” display mask for recreational divers. It gives an instant visual display of dive information, sent from a wireless transmitter attached to the diver’s tank. Inside the mask is a miniature LCD panel that shows the diver’s depth, tank pressure, and dive time elapsed and remaining. So it doesn’t distract from the underwater views, the display has an adjustable backlight that can be set on the surface or underwater. But this advanced product also comes with an advanced price tag – expect to pay $1,500 for the Datamask. (

To replace underwater hand signals and the dive slate is the UDI, the first underwater text-messaging device. Divers can strap it onto their arms and use it to send SOS alerts up to 3,000 feet away, and text other divers and boats from 1,600 feet away. Up to 56 divers at a time can use it at once (the UDI has four channels accommodating 14 divers on each one). Manufactured by Israel’s Underwater Technology Center, the UDI is scheduled to be for sale this spring. (

For divers not content with underwater sounds while diving, there’s now the Waterproof Scuba MP3 Player by Frontgate for listening to favorite tunes among the fish. A waterproof case encloses an iRiver player that goes down to 200 feet, and waterproof headset speakers have a built-in amplifier and a clip that attaches to a dive mask. At $99, it’s cheaper than a Mini iPod but unfortunately it has less memory – 128 megabytes is only good enough for 30 songs maximum. (

New Innovations in Dive Gear - Undercurrent, March 2008

Fiji Dive Resorts by Adventure Brat

Fiji Dive Resorts

Adventure Brat - Villa

Staying at a great Fiji dive resort is an extrodoary experience and you are not short of places to go. Drift diving is very popular for Fiji dive trips.

Expect enormous amounts of water flow in and out of the channels as the tide rises and falls. Drift diving in Fiji is the way to go if you are a seasoned scuba diver, you can enjoy the sights and let the current do all the work during your Fiji dive vacation.

If you don’t think you have what it takes to tackle the currents fear not. Several Fiji dive resorts are there to help. There are just as many places for beginners when you scuba dive Fiji as there are for seasoned veterans. (continued below)

Fiji Dive Resorts by Adventure Brat

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Fiji Trip Report Sept 2008 - ScubaBoard

Fiji Trip Report Sept 2008 - ScubaBoard

Bula Fiji - From one Paradise to Another …
After we bid farewell to the folks in Tonga, eight of us continued on our journey and traveled northwest to Fiji for our much-anticipated “The Big Fish - Shark Dives” at the famed Beqa Lagoon. Fiji has a fascinating history that encompasses centuries of tribal warfare, colonial influences, religious meddling and cannibalism. The country occupies an archipelago of about 322 islands, of which 106 are permanently inhabited, and 522 islets.


Dreams do come true, sometimes twice better …
While my primary aim for this trip was to swim with humpback whales in Tonga but I’m glad that I did the Fiji extension. Fiji is one magical, friendly, musical, and stunningly beautiful place. I left the country with great sadness but with superb memories of great diving and friendships of my new Fijian friends.

Photo link: Jovin's Cool Photos!! :: Fiji - Beqa Shark Dives Sept 2008

Read full report here: Fiji Trip Report Sept 2008 - ScubaBoard

Saturday, 11 October 2008

A Perfect Dive Vacation: Fiji, the South Pacific

Top 10 Reef Dives

There are numerous great diving spots throughout the world, and to any diver who may have been fortunate enough to tackle most of them, Fiji would be considered the perfect dive vacation. It incorporates the best of diving in a true Polynesian way—clear visibility, warm water temperatures, a virginal quality and uncrowded experience, plus the full spectrum of color and shape in the coral.

The ever-present currents are to thank for the brilliant coral display. The flowing water carries nutrients that keep marine life healthy and the reefs enriched. The “soft coral capital of the world” offers an amazing variety of dive sites. The northern island group is top-tier diving and most easily accessible in Fiji. Just off the southern side of Kadavu, the Great Astrolabe Reef is the world’s fourth largest barrier reef. Diving here has been called the best in Fiji, particularly for those who want to get away from the more frequented dive spots up north.

No matter which submerged sites you choose to explore, you are guaranteed a dazzling show. Just be sure to enjoy some quality time on land as well—the onshore attractions and relaxed island vibe rate pretty high, too.

A Perfect Dive Vacation: Fiji, the South Pacific

Friday, 10 October 2008

High quality marine binoculars offers the widest selection of high quality binoculars - binoculars night vision, digital camera binoculars, bird watching binoculars, hunting binoculars, astronomical binoculars, marine binoculars and military binoculars.

No matter what specifications you are looking for - zoom binoculars, waterproof binoculars, compact binoculars or giant binoculars have got you covered.

FREE UPS with all binoculars over $29.95

Nikon binoculars, Swarovski binoculars, Celestron binoculars, Leupold binoculars, Meade binoculars, Bushnell binoculars, Steiner binoculars, Tasco binoculars, Brunton binoculars and many more. prides itself on exceptional customer service, outstanding product knowledge, lowest prices and secure online shopping environment.

They have a wealth of product information, anything from binocular reviews to “how-to-buy binoculars” articles. In addition to binoculars at discount prices, OpticsPlanet carries a full line of telescopes, spotting scopes, night vision, rifle scopes, microscopes sunglasses and goggles

Thursday, 9 October 2008 Fiji signs Carbon Trading Agreement

Fiji signs Carbon Trading Agreement

Under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Fiji Government has approved for reactivation of Carbon Trading in the Fiji Islands. It will come into effect on Friday, 10th October, which is also Fiji Day. Acting interim Minister for Labour and Industrial Relations, Mr Filipe Bole, announced that new Carbon Trading regulations will be formulated to be submitted to Cabinet by the middle of 2009.
(Full story via Scuba news from around the world

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Donate to CORAL Today and Receive the 2009 CORAL Calendar | Coral Reef Alliance

2009 CORAL Calendar

Featuring twelve months of beautiful underwater photography, the 2009 CORAL calendar is our best one yet. We’ve got dueling Blue Ribbon Eels in January, an inquisitive Hawksbill Turtle in March, a thumbnail-sized Pygmy Seahorse in August, and a shockingly colorful Nudibranch in December.

Each month features an informative eco-tip to help you save coral reefs no matter where you live. And we've included details about CORAL's conservation work at our seven project sites around the world—including photographs of the local community members and partners that your generous donations support.

When you donate $35 or more to CORAL, we'll send you the 2009 CORAL calendar. If you would like to receive additional calendars to give as gifts to your friends or family members, please donate an additional $15 per calendar. Enter the total amount of your donation in the Donation Amount box and enter the total quantity of calendars you desire in the Total Number of Calendars box.

If you donate: We'll send you up to [X] calendar(s):
$35 [1]
$50 ($35 + $15) [2]
$65 ($35 + $15 + $15) [3]
$80 ($35 + $15 + $15 + $15) [4]
And so on...

If you would prefer to donate without receiving a calendar, simply enter "0" in the Total Number of Calendars box.

Blue Ribbon Eels

January CORAL Calendar

You can donate to receive as many copies of the calendar as you want while supplies last. To ensure that you receive your calendar(s) in time for holiday giving, please donate on or before December 1. And note that if you donate to receive five or more calendars, allow up to two weeks for delivery.

In order to save paper and ensure that more of your donations go directly to protecting coral reefs, we have only printed a limited number of calendars this year. We will stop shipping calendars when supplies run out. Please send your contribution right away to reserve your calendar(s) and to help protect the planet's coral reefs.

If you have any questions about donating to CORAL, please contact our membership department by email or by calling (415) 834-0900 x306.

Please donate now—and thank you for helping CORAL protect coral reefs.

Donate to CORAL Today and Receive the 2009 CORAL Calendar | Coral Reef Alliance

Sunday, 5 October 2008

NAI'A Last Minute Discounts

A note in my inbox from Cat Holloway at NAI'A:

"There are a few spaces remaining on one of our prime-time charters, October 11-18. 

Fiji’s spring has traditionally been our most heavily booked season and it is very unusual that there are any empty rooms this close to departure. 

So hurry up – direct bookings qualify for a 30% last-minute discount! 

Call the NAI'A office on 345 0665 or email to reserve a place."