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Wednesday
Feb072018

Bula!

I’m one of the new marine conservation interns over in Beqa, Fiji and I have been here about a week now and am starting to get familiar with the ways of camp life. Many volunteers stay round 3 months on the conservation trip but some stay as much as 6 months in Beqa, and I can already see why; a combination of the diving and remote wildness of these islands holds a unique charm.

The camp is very communal, everyone gets their turn cooking in pairs or cleaning and tidying up. If you want an example of the meals we end up cooking here: we had onion bhaji’s and flatbreads one night and coconut curry the next day. We also get the opportunity to try traditional Fijian when meeting the nearby villages and becoming familiar with the residents; my favourite dishes so far include fried taro leaves and aubergine and onions baked in coconut milk. The village nearest is called “Naiseuseu” and you can get to know the residents really well, especially the energetic youngsters.

Learning your species for surveying starts early in your stay, and having a basic understanding of what corals ‘are’ really helps; watching blue planet for example can give a bit of a good background. The marine science learning work here is set to your pace of learning and motivation, so if you want to tackle the memorization quickly - you can move onto later stages faster. For example we recently were introduced to the major fish families for learning, and I am pushing to memorized as many of the 28 named over the next few days,

I was already a qualified diver before I came out here and so I started diving and practicing survey techniques only a day or two after I arrived. The marine scene is world class at all of the 6 sites which we regularly visit to survey; I have visited 3 of them, and all have amazing colour throughout from all the reef fish and coral life. My favourite site so far is “Vuvale” partly because it was my first dive location here, because I saw some resting white-tip reefs there during that dive, and partly because of the richness of colour there.

The weekends are mostly for fun, with some going to the main island to shop, adventure and to experience the local nightlife. Fun diving can also be an option on the weekends, which is what I have just come back from. The coral reef site was on the opposite side of the island from our base, and is not often dived by the Frontier crew- mainly because of its distance. The visibility was not fantastic, as happens with afternoon dives, but it was a nice chance to go a bit deeper than the 10m average of the other dive sites, especially when it involved a coral wall dive!

I’m looking forward to getting to grips with being able to conduct surveys in the next few weeks and hoping to possibly see a turtle in the next little while when diving or snorkelling. Not to mention visiting the main island so I can grab some snacks and do a souvenir shop among other things.

By Nicky Harris - Fiji Marine Volunteer

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