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Shark  Dive

It might be all about community projects over here in Suva but given the opportunity to get in the water with some fish I absolutely will snap it up! So, when some volunteers decided to do the famous Shark Dive in Beqa Lagoon I took the chance to go with them. It was definitely one of the best things I’ve done during my time here in Fiji and despite the price tag, totally worth every cent.

Only 10 or fewer minutes out by boat from Pacific Harbour and we were attached to the buoy at the dive site. Unfortunately, the tide wasn’t on our side and the current was really ripping – I think it added to the sheer excitement of the dive – and if we hadn’t had the rope to guide ourselves down we would have been washed away. Nonetheless when we got down to the bottom (19m) it wasn’t quite as strong and we were able to sit fairly comfortably behind a small wall to observe the sharks. And there were loads of them; bull, nurse and lemon, some white tips hung above our heads but were much more tricky to spot.

You’ve surely heard all the horror stories of shark encounters and limbs being torn off but this dive is different and responsible for the welfare of the reef, sharks, fish and local community who ‘own’ that part of the lagoon. When diving part of your fee goes back to the village – this means the sharks are more valuable to the community alive as an attraction than dead as soup or a medicine. Some of the villagers can make an additional living by training to become a dive master and guide the customers down on the dives. Keeping the sharks in the lagoon means the ecosystem is preserved – fish stay, coral grows, marine life flourishes. The site was chosen as it was dying and the addition of food has enabled it to grow back. Although the sharks do know that food will be at that site at certain times, this hasn’t hindered their instincts to hunt. The divers were telling us that they don’t see the same sharks every visit; so they must feed elsewhere.

The sharks came so close to us! And, as long as you stay still and don’t throw yourself around you pose no threat to them and they none to you. If things aren’t looking good the guides are on hand and constantly alert to keep you safe. It’s incredible to see so many of these magnificent animals up close. Words can’t explain the time I spent underwater and mine certainly wouldn’t do it justice – you need to do this one for yourselves!

By Kat Barber - Project Coordinator

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