Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Sasalu Tawamudu Fiji - Sustainable Reef Resources

Sustainable Fijian Reef Resources Inc. (Sasalu Tawamudu) is a state-of-Georgia registered not-for-profit corporation with US IRS 501(c)3 status for tax deductible donations. It was founded by Dr. Bill Aalbersberg, the Director of Applied Sciences at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji, Dr. Kirk Bowman, a professor of international affairs at Georgia Tech, and Dr. Terry Snell, a biology professor at Georgia Tech. Aalbersberg, Bowman, and Snell are part of an international team of scientists and researchers who are funded by the Fogarty Center of the US National Institutes of Health to work on drug discovery, conservation, and sustainable economic development in Fiji. Sustainable Fijian Reef Resources is a culmination of part of that work and combines local knowledge from Fijian stakeholders, cutting edge science on reef health, market dynamics, local community activism, and internet marketing.

The Board of Directors all serve without any compensation of any kind. Due to generous support from the International Cooperative Biodiversity Group program of the Fogarty Center of the National Institutes of Health that supports our web page, all donations go directly to programs and partners in Fiji, such as the award-winning Fiji Locally Managed Marine Area Network (FLMMA).

Board of Directors of Sustainable Fijian Reef Resources, Inc.:

  • Dr. Bill Aalbersberg, Ph.D. Professor and Director of the Institute of Applied Sciences at the University of the South Pacific in Suva, Fiji
  • Dr. Kirk Bowman, Ph.D. Associate Professor in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
  • Alison Graab. Former student body president of Georgia Tech and law student in environmental law.
  • Dr. Mark Hay, Ph.D. Harry and Linda Teasely Chair in Environmental Biology at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
  • Jon Wilcox. President of California Republic Bank.

Sustainable Fijian Reef Resources also utilizes an advisory council of prominent Fijians, representing environmental groups, stakeholders, tourism industry leaders, and political leaders.

Sasalu Tawamudu Fiji - Sustainable Reef Resources

AWARE Our World, Our Water

Aquatic World Awareness, Responsibilty, and Education.

A book that overviews Coral Reef Ecology and Biology. It also has sections about threats to coral reefs, future solutions, and what you can do to help. Has a glossary too!

Read Project AWARE Our World, Our Water to learn about some of the serious problems facing today's aquatic ecosystems and find out how you can preserve these precious resources by implementing everyday solutions.

Whether you have a love for the oceans, lakes or rivers, or just like to enjoy a clean glass of drinking water, there's something in this book for you.

Download “AWARE Our World Our Water”
manual generously donated to
Project AWARE Foundation by PADI.

Note* This is a 10MB Adobe PDF document.
For faster download, right click on the link and
save the document on your hard drive.

Project AWARE Specialty Courses

The wow factor - Fiji Times Online

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

SEVEN years ago, two poms and a yankee gave up their career and took a chance on Matava, a little known resort on Kadavu.

The friendship forged 20 years prior was for the long haul so trust was never an issue when the trio decided to combine their zeal with business in a distant island home.

Richard Akhtar, (left) Adrian Watt and Jeanie Mailliard are now major players in dive tourism - their position solidified this year by a recent acquisition - a major environmental award from PADI, the world's largest international scuba certification agency, last month.

And at a dive expo last week, the resort bordered by the Great Astrolabe Reef, was easily identified as one of the best dive spots in Fiji.

"We are so proud of this achievement because it is the only one given in the region and Fiji has never won before," Fiji Islands Hotel Association executive Michael Wong said.

Mr Akhtar, who met fellow Englishman Adrian in London, said contrary to belief, dive tourism had a great potential to enhance and promote the marine ecosystem.

"The award means a lot because it is a recognition of the work we and the community have out in over the past five years," he said as he explained he first came to Fiji ten years ago as a conservationist. He met Jeanie, an American, while on a tour of South Africa.

"Ours is a partnership that started as friends 25 years ago. We looked at a number of options and saw Matava, that was already in operation, as a good opportunity."

Mr Akhtar said diving was a niche market that had a great potential to grow if efforts to protect the reef continued.

"There is a huge gap for this kind of tourism and we try to keep it all natural, that is the cornerstone of everything we do, the natural beauty is still there and it will always be a draw for us," he added, referring to the industry as a whole.

The PADI Asia Pacific Member Awards 2009 was in the category Project Aware marine environment award.

The awards were developed to better recognize the achievements of those PADI dive centers and resorts which have made significant contributions to the growth and development of diving.

Last year a major resort upgrade saw the addition of new high-tech solar power plant. Working in conjunction with our neighboring village of Kadavu Koro, the resort has also established a marine reserve from the boundary of the Matava foreshore extending out to encompass the opposite Waya island.

"This area is protected from any sort of fishing, shell collecting and reef walking. Our focus at Matava is eco-tourism. We promote the natural environment, both marine and terrestrial and have adopted programmes to avoid damaging our environment," Mr Akhtar siad.

"These include conservation awareness, and waste management (recycling) programmes at the resort and with local villages. There are no power generators at Matava - our lighting is primarily solar, with additional kerosene lanterns if required. All rubbish is also sorted, food waste is fed to local pigs and we compost as much waste as possible." "Plastic and glass bottles are recycled."

Ecologically conscious yet adventure driven, the three directors who operate this intimate getaway where 22 guests can stay at a time, have proven they were born to blend in our natural environment - offering our visitors a whole new breed of holiday experience.

The wow factor - Fiji Times Online

Monday, 25 May 2009

Be an AWARE Underwater Photographer

Improve your underwater photography techniques and protect the environment at the same time. Regardless of skill level, Project AWARE Foundation’s Ten Tips for Underwater Photographers are a valuable asset for everyone.
10 Tips for Underwater Photographers
Underwater photos can describe the beauty and diversity of our underwater environments as well as highlight the urgent need for conservation. Contribute your photos to a good cause by helping identify individual species such as whale sharks and highlighting conservation issues including coral bleaching, pollution, overfishing and marine litter.

However, there are a number of points to consider before attempting any photography in a fragile environment. Be sure to protect underwater environments before, during and after every dive. Download and share the Project AWARE's Ten Tips for Underwater Photographers. If you are a dive instructor or dive centre print this flyer for your students and make it a key part of your dive training.

These valuable conservation tips are translated into several languages. Click on your chosen language below.

Be an AWARE Underwater Photographer

Friday, 22 May 2009

Protect the Sharks

Protect the Sharks

reef1372 NOAA web
Why do sharks need our protection? Many shark species are endangered and could soon become extinct without our help. According to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), approximately 100 million sharks are killed each year. Due to their slow growth, late sexual maturity and low number of offspring, they are susceptible to almost any fishing pressure.'

Few countries have shark management plans in place. And, the demand for shark products like shark meat, fins and cartilage further contributes to their decline.

Play Video
Why should you help? Sharks play a vital role in the underwater ecosystem as part of nature’s complex system of checks and balances. Known as apex predators, they are at the top of the food chain, keeping other aquatic species populations healthy and balanced.
Project AWARE disseminates educational materials to public audiences of all ages to help create a worldwide awareness of shark issues. Protect the Sharks public service announcements (PSAs) continue to be broadcast on television and cable networks.

Project AWARE also supports state, federal and international legislative efforts to protect vulnerable shark species. Success stories so far include the US Shark Conservation Act of 2000, the Hawaii Shark Finning Prohibition Act, the shark finning ban in Australia and much more.

For a free Protect the Sharks educational brochure send your mailing address to:

Protect the Sharks

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Fiji Launches “FijiMe” | Dive Travel Newswire

The Fiji Islands Visitors Bureau launched a new website The website features an interactive map with search functionality for accommodation, activities and events.

The new website, which the bureau says also offers advertising and promotional opportunities to its Fiji partners, includes microsites for niche markets including weddings and honeymoons, dive, adventure, Fiji’s culture, affordable travel and the meetings, incentives and conference market, known as MICE.

The site also features an extensive tourism resources section, a high-resolution visual image/pictorial gallery for downloading and a streaming video library, as well as visitor testimonials and a print media section. For more information, visit

Fiji Launches “FijiMe” | Dive Travel Newswire

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Digital Oceans: Gallery of Underwater Photographs of Fiji by David Da Costa

Fiji is an archipelago comprised of 322 islands, of which more than 100 are inhabited. The Fijian islands lie 3,200 miles southwest of Hawaii and 2,000 miles northeast of Sydney, Australia. While it sounds far away, it's only a nice hour direct flight from Los Angeles.

Aptly known as the “soft coral capital of the world” few would deny the beauty of Fiji’s underwater riches. Fijian reefs harbor an abundant diversity of underwater life. Central Fiji's barrier reefs in particular seems to offer optimal conditions for all types of life.

Fiji's dense coral 'bommies' lend themselves to wide angle photography, but capturing specatular seascapes often involves diving in rapid currents and finding a little hollow and hanging on or ducking behind the current. Francoise spent a good portion of one dive holding onto my ankles while braced beneath me as I waited for my shot higher up on a current swept coral head.

Still, the photographic rewards can be amazing, with many of the coral heads covered with inflated soft coral and exploding with orange and purple anthias 'volcanoes'. We are hoping to make a return trip in soon.
Click picture for close up view
photograph of coral taken in fiji
Hard & soft corals
photo of leaf scorpionfish taenianotus triacanthus taken in fiji
Taenianotus triacanthus
underwater image of clavelina puerto-secensis taken in fiji
Clavelina puerto-secensis
photo of soft coral dendronepthya taken in fiji
underwater photo of scorpionfish scorpaenopsis oxycerphalus taken in fiji
Scorpaenopsis oxycerphalus
underwater picture of corals and feather star taken in fiji
Digital Oceans: Gallery of Underwater Photographs of Fiji by David Da Costa

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Matava - THE True Eco Resort in Fiji

Matava - THE True Eco Resort in Fiji. Matava is the genuine eco-adventure lodge, beautifully set off the beaten track, minutes from the Great Astrolabe Reef on Kadavu Island. Our intimate resort has beautiful, comfortable bures, outstanding cuisine and offers a full range of adventure and cultural activities. Dive or take a course with our PADI dive professionals. Experience fantastic fish, pristine corals, Mantas and sharks. Try big game fishing, snorkeling, sailing, sea kayaking, trekking, and join in authentic cultural and village events! No roads, solar power, low carbon footprint make Matava the ideal and environmentally responsible location to relax and unwind.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Interactive SHARK WEEK: Bust Shark Myths on Your Mobile Phone

Interactive SHARK WEEK: Bust Shark Myths on Your Mobile Phone

Contact: Tiffany Leite, Project AWARE Foundation
+1 949 858 7657 Ext. 2448,
Project AWARE Foundation and Discovery Mobile Advocate for Shark Conservation
Rancho Santa Margarita, CA – Project AWARE Foundation teams up with Discovery Mobile to help de-bunk shark myths and educate public audiences about the dire need for their conservation around America’s favorite summer television event, Discovery Channel’s SHARK WEEK.

Using your mobile phone, log on to and select SHARK WEEK’s Bust the Myth Quiz. Challenge your knowledge on the mystery and power of sharks and the threats facing their survival worldwide.

Now in its 21st year, SHARK WEEK airs nightly from July 27 to August 2 on Discovery Channel. This season’s programs address myths about sharks, spotlight lesser-known and unusual sharks, and educate the public about the importance of sharks through conservation information. As part of Discovery’s commitment to educating the public about the plight of sharks around the world, Discovery Mobile has partnered with Project AWARE Foundation to offer consumers this engaging and educational interactive application.

Project AWARE Foundation, also a member of the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI), a group made up of governments, regional, environmental and academic organizations, met recently and released a recommendation on improving shark conservation for coral reef resiliency. 

“The ICRI Recommendation makes it clear that as apex predators, sharks play a key role in maintaining healthy ecosystems,” states Jenny Miller Garmendia, Director for Project AWARE Foundation. “Fewer sharks can mean negative cascading effects across the food web. Loss of apex predators causes population changes that negatively impact reef and other marine ecosystems. We are depleting shark populations worldwide at alarming rates and it’s vital that we act now for their conservation. We’re excited to partner with Discovery Mobile in spreading the word on conservation during SHARK WEEK.”
Project AWARE Foundation, involved in shark conservation monitoring, education and initiatives for more than ten years, calls for your action during SHARK WEEK and beyond. What else can you do?
  • Support the Shark Conservation Act of 2008 – which aims to end shark “finning” the practice of slicing off the shark fins and discarding the body at sea – Project AWARE and many conservation organizations are supporting the initiative. Find out more at
  • Submit Your Shark Conservation Images and Win Big – compelling images, including those of threatened shark species, are needed for conservation. Enter the Ocean in Focus Conservation Photography Contest and compete for top prizes at
Project AWARE Foundation, a registered nonprofit organization, works in direct partnership with divers and water enthusiasts to conserve underwater environments through education, advocacy and action. Project AWARE Headquarters in the United States and offices in Australia, United Kingdom, Switzerland and Japan combine efforts to protect aquatic resources in 175 countries and territories of the world. For more information on Project AWARE Foundation’s environmental initiatives visit

Project AWARE

Friday, 8 May 2009

What Can You Do to Keep Waters Debris Free?

  • ICD what u can doBuy in bulk, re-use as often as possible and always recycle.
  • Bring reusable bags with you when shopping.
  • Avoid buying plastic or Styrofoam products whenever possible.
  • Be aware of everything you buy and avoid products with excessive packaging.
  • Demand more and improved recycling facilities for your area.
  • Properly dispose of all pieces of fishing line, net or other associated litter.
  • Keep plastics and other litter off the ground and the ocean floor.
  • Keep storm drains and shorelines free of plastic and other debris.
  • Remove debris you see during every recreational dive or shoreline visit.
  • Get involved. Participate in local shoreline and underwater cleanups with Project AWARE.

What Can You Do to Keep Waters Debris Free?

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Dive For Earth Day

Make a world of difference this Earth Day, 22 April 2009

Earth is a water planet and the planet needs our help. Why? Climate change is a major threat with increased ocean temperatures and ocean acidification impacting fragile underwater environments. Dive for Earth Day is an extraordinary opportunity to take action and help address the underwater issues that concern you most.
How can you help?

Individual Divers and Water Enthusiasts:

Volunteer today! Search for Dive for Earth Day events near you and choose from hundreds of conservation activities that put aquatic issues on the Earth Day map.
Dive Professionals and Organisations:
Coordinate an event!
Organise a coral reef monitoring project, underwater cleanup, AWARE Kids event or AWARE Fish ID Specialty Course. Register online to receive free resources to help make your day a success.
About Dive for Earth Day
Earth Day raises environmental awareness on a global scale. Since the 30th anniversary of Earth Day in 2000, Project AWARE has helped divers focus attention on aquatic environments for this annual event. Thousands of diver volunteers in more than 115 countries have helped protect underwater environments and educate local communities for Project AWARE’s Dive for Earth Day.
Read more about Project AWARE’s Dive for Earth Day initiatives around the world and share your news with the Project AWARE community.

Make Every Day Earth Day
There are many simple, low-cost things you can do each day and each time you dive to lower your impact on the environment. Begin by following Project AWARE’s Ten Ways a Diver Can Protect the Underwater Environment or check out our Tips to Keep Waters Debris Free.

Dive For Earth Day

Winners 2009 Gallery » Byron Underwater Festival - Byron Bay

Winners 2009 Gallery

These are the photos and the winning video from the 2009 shootout competition. What a fantastic week we had. The visibility was fantastic all week - check out the winners list and the winning images - winning video will be up soon.

Best Festival Video

Best Festival Photograph - SLR camera

  • 1st prize - Mark Gray - a dive holiday for TWO at Matava in Fiji - includes meals and taxes - *flights not included

Mark Gray - winner SLR - Underwater Festival 2009

Chris Hamilton – 2nd SLR - Underwater Festival 2009

  • 3rd prize - Graham Midgley - a massive 1200mm x 800mm canvas print of your winning image by Retrospect

Graham Midgley – 3rd SLR - Underwater Festival 2009

Best Festival Portfolio - 5 images

  • 1st prize - Chris Hamilton - Full Beuchat SCUBA package including first and second stage regulators, occy & BCD as well as fins & mask.

Chris Hamilton – Winner Portfolio - Underwater Festival 2009

Chris Hamilton – Winner Portfolio - Underwater Festival 2009

Chris Hamilton – Winner Portfolio - Underwater Festival 2009

Chris Hamilton – Winner Portfolio - Underwater Festival 2009

Chris Hamilton – Winner Portfolio - Underwater Festival 2009

  • 2nd prize - Mark Gray - 6 Days/5 Nights Cocotinos Dive Package for one diver in Manado, Sulawesi. PLUS a $500 Aquatica voucher from Scubapix

Mark Gray – 2nd Portfolio - Underwater Festival 2009

Mark Gray – 2nd Portfolio - Underwater Festival 2009

Mark Gray – 2nd Portfolio - Underwater Festival 2009

Mark Gray – 2nd Portfolio - Underwater Festival 2009

Mark Gray – 2nd Portfolio - Underwater Festival 2009

Stefan Beekman – 3rd Portfolio - Underwater Festival 2009

Stefan Beekman – 3rd Portfolio - Underwater Festival 2009

Stefan Beekman – 3rd Portfolio - Underwater Festival 2009

Stefan Beekman – 3rd Portfolio - Underwater Festival 2009

Stefan Beekman – 3rd Portfolio - Underwater Festival 2009

Best Festival Photograph - Compact camera

  • 1st prize - David Bryant - Choice of Ikelite SLR housing (inc port) / video housing or DS-160 deluxe strobe package

David Bryant – Winner Compact - Underwater Festival 2009

Stefan Beekman – 2nd Compact - Underwater Festival 2009

  • 3rd prize - Ken Thongpila - a huge 900mm x 600mm canvas print of your winning image by Retrospect

Ken Thongpila – 3rd Compact - Underwater Festival 2009

Best Festival Photograph - Novice & Sealife Camera Try Outs

Susan Berry – Winner Novice - Underwater Festival 2009

  • 2nd prize - Aiden Dipple - Pair of ESCLAPEZ Fins

Aiden Dipple – 2nd Novice - Underwater Festival 2009

Cherie Dodd – 3rd Novice - Underwater Festival 2009

Neville Coleman Awards

Most interesting critter find during the Underwater Festival

1 - John Natoli

John Natoli – Neville Coleman Award - Underwater Festival 2009

2 - John Natoli

John Natoli – Neville Coleman Award - Underwater Festival 2009

3 - Ian Banks

Ian Banks – Neville Coleman Award - Underwater Festival 2009

4 - Ken Thongpila

Ken Thongpila – Neville Coleman Award - Underwater Festival 2009

Thank you all sponsors!

The Byron Underwater Festival would like to say a huge thank you to all the prize sponsors - without you, this festival would be only half as much fun.

2008 Winners

See the winners of the 2008 shoot-out competition and check out the uf08 archive site.

2007 Winners

See the winners of the 2007 shoot-out competition on the uf07 archive site.

Check out our...

Latest UF09 News

  • News: Underwater Festival 2009 winners now up - May 5th, 2009
    Please check out the 2009 winners page which features all the winning entries from this years Underwater Festival in Byron Bay. Video winners will be uploaded as soon as possible. We hope to see...

Winners 2009 Gallery » Byron Underwater Festival - Byron Bay

Saturday, 2 May 2009

The Best Shark Dive in the World!: Husky Dusky? Maybe!

Remember the mystery Shark?
It's still a mystery - but at least, we've managed to narrow down the choices to two likely suspects. And having gone digging, I found some brilliant pics on Andy Murch's great Elasmodiver website.
The two suspects look like this.

That would be a Dusky (Carcharhinus obscurus) on top and a Silky (C. falciformis) below. See the alignment and the size of the fins? And that caudal keel that for so long has left everybody baffled? Except that, apparently, it aint really a proper "caudal keel"? Read below and you'll understand - it's complicated!

And now, compare them with the mystery pic on top: any preferences?

Like El Tiburon and after a knee-jerk reaction in favor of it being a Silky, I now root for the Dusky. I've never seen a Dusky, but I've seen plenty of Silkies - and although I can't quite put my finger on it, the mystery Shark just doesn't "feel" like one of them. I'm specially unconvinced by the first dorsal, but then again, who am I to say!

Talking of which, Juerg cautiously tends towards the Silky - but being the good scientist he is, he has passed on the question to a very prominent (and probably, the best) Shark taxonomist who has come back with the following.

"C. falciformis it is, nice pics."

but then, after reflection:

"I was a bit deprived of sleep when I made the call on the identification, so that your friend may be on to something.
I did a composite illustration of C. falciformis vs C. obscurus, and append it to this note for comparison with the best of your two images.

The only carcharhinids with prominent keels when alive and dead are Galeocerdo cuvier and Prionace glauca, so that your Carcharhinus when alive and swimming shows a keel but not when dead. Rather like observing a live bird in a tree through binoculars vs a live bird of the same species in hand from a mist net, and again the same species of bird as a study skin.
Fin size and shape change with growth in Carcharhinus. I was wondering about your C. falciformis in terms of second dorsal shape, position of the first dorsal, and pectoral fin shape and relative size.

Tooth shape of upper anterolateral teeth and vertebral counts are diagnostic for these species, but until we can pack underwater mini CAT-scan machines, we have to rely on dead animals to voucher live ones. Shark watching is not quite as advanced as bird-watching, but it's getting there"

There you have it! And yes, it's complicated! But fascinating, too - at least to me!
But whatever Shark that really was, the myth about Bronzies (C. brachyurus) prowling the waters of Fiji remains just that, a myth! As expected! For now!

Stuart: there you have it!
Well, sort of.

The Best Shark Dive in the World!: Husky Dusky? Maybe!

Friday, 1 May 2009

Photo & Video Competition Beneath The Sea - 2009

Photo & Video Competition
Beneath The Sea - 2009

Each year, Beneath the Sea is pleased to give amateur underwater photographers and videographers a chance to compete with their peers from across the World.


The Best in Show-Underwater Photography receives the David Doubilet award for excellence in underwater photography – Grand Prize is a week at the Manta Ray Bay Hotel and diving with Yap Divers. This year's winner is Cal Mero, of Victoria, Australia for "Leafy Sea Dragon"

The Best in Show-Underwater Creative Photography receives the Jim Church award for excellence in underwater creative photography – Grand Prize is a live-aboard trip on the Manthiri in the Maldives. This year's winner is Umeed Mistry of Bangalore, India for "Rajan at South Button"

The Best in Show-Videography receives the Stan Waterman award for excellence in underwater video – Grand Prize is a live-aboard trip on the Nai’a in Fiji. This year's winner is Robert Williams of Newbury Park, California. His video is titled: "Attack of the Sea Slugs".

Beneath The Sea