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6 Brilliant Species Of  Beqa!

Being in Beqa for more than 5 months has given me the chance to see a lot of incredible things underwater. While every dive is amazing in its own right, there are a few things that can make my day brighter if I happen to come across them.

1. Turtles
There are only two types of sea turtles that you are likely to see out here – the hawksbill and the green turtles. No matter which one you encounter though, they are both just as gracious and amazing, and seeing them casually glide past you is most definitely going to put a smile on your face. If you are lucky and know where to look, you might even see one sleeping underneath some coral, and this is when you have to be as stealthy as possible so you don’t wake him up!

2. Parrotfish

These guys bring the colour to the reefs. This is not to say that other fish are bland or boring, but there is something about the patterns and colour coordination on parrotfish that make them stand out. It’s the males that have the bright, eye-catching designs, while the smaller females are considered less exciting, with more grey, brown and silvery variations. You can easily identify a parrotfish by their fused teeth that form a beak, that they use to feed on corals and other microorganisms living on rocks. One fun fact about them is that most of the sand that is found on reefs is actually undigested fragments of corals, excreted by parrotfish.

3. Waving hand soft coral

Fiji is known as the soft coral capital of the world, and out of all of the different types of corals that we get out here, my favourite is definitely the waving hand. It’s got different names around the globe, also known as pulsing coral or flower coral, but the idea is the same – their polyps try to capture tiny food particles suspended in the water column, and they open and close cyclically, making it look like it’s somehow waving at you. The motion is mesmerising, and I could honestly spend an entire dive just watching them do that.

4. Christmas tree worms

Another way that I could spend an entire dive is going after these guys. Christmas tree worms are a type of segmented worm that grow in a tube that they build into certain types of coral. The colourful, pretty, feathery bits that we see and that somewhat resemble a Christmas tree, are actually it’s feeding structures. As most divers know, if you get too close or make any sudden movements around them, they will immediately retract back into their tubes. I find it strangely entertaining to scare them, especially when you have a massive bit of coral, all covered in these tiny guys, that will all, instantly, just disappear.

5. Golden damsels

Damselfish are known to be highly territorial, and will protect their bit of the reef with all of their might. At two of our dive sites, the start rod for our surveys has been taken over by two golden damsels, and now you have to brave them every time you want to put the tape measure there. I have to give it to them, for a 10cm fish to be so angry and try to make you, a 1m something human being leave their home alone, is quite impressive. Very serious from their perspective, and really cute and funny from ours.

6. Sharks

They’ve got the charm of the big creatures, and the mystery that comes with it as well. An encounter with a shark always leaves me in awe with their beauty, and just being in the presence of one is guaranteed to change my day. Not to mention when you get incredibly lucky and get to swim with ten baby blacktips in the shallow waters around the sandbar, and watch them investigating you big, strange, octopus-with-half-the-arms looking creature. I sometimes get the feeling that they are as fascinated by us as we are by them.

By Teodora Forascu - Fiji Marine Assistant Research Officer

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