Thursday
May292014

ARO Blog: Blue Raasch

Bula vuvale (family) and noquidao (friends)!

This week has been another exciting one. We spent a lot of time swimming with White Tip Reef Sharks this past week.  Many sightings were by the volunteers at our dive site Vuvalae, during both Fish Spot Tests and Surveys.  The volunteers were also lucky enough to see two sharks while on a night dive as well.  Sadly we had to say goodbye to one of our long time Research Assistants, Calvin, who has been here for 5 months.  His goodbye ceremony was very touching as Mala and Ateca both sang the traditional Fijian Goodbye Song; “Isa le”. Goodluck Calvin!

The weekend was a fun, eventful one.  Matt, Angie and myself had decided to venture into the nearby village to buy a few goodies at the local shop.  We brought back a bag full of crisps, biscuits, tang, lollies and other fun munchies.  After a small break we and the rest of the volunteers, decided to go for a very ambitious hike up the mountain.  Starting at around 1:30 p.m., we hiked with Mala’s children Moses and Aleci until 3:30 p.m. before I decided it would be best for us to head back to camp.  We didn’t quite reach the peak of the mountain, so another hike is in our future.  After making a few wrong turns, we found camp just as the sun was setting at 5:30 p.m. After four hours of hiking, and climbing through the jungle, everyone was absolutely exhausted and in bed very early.  On Sunday, I attended two church services in Rakua with a few local families.  They are always very welcoming and happy to have me.  They call me ‘Sister Blue’ and greet me with hugs when they see me.  They really are a lovely group of people.  After the morning service, we gathered to have a traditional Fijian lunch: Fish in coconut milk, taro, cassava, Fijian asparagus, BBQ eggplant, spinach in coconut milk, a potato-papaya salad and baked banana with sugar.  After stuffing my belly, I went for a walk and relaxed on the beach until the afternoon service.  The volunteers, back at camp, spent their Sunday swimming in the neighbouring river and creek as well as catching some much needed sun as this past week has been quite rainy. Angie (our resident chef) made delicious lentil and pea patties and I may have inhaled two…Rebecca arrived today with Kris and apparently was greeted with dolphins, I was jealous!

Happy diving!!
Until next time, moce!

Blue

Find out more about the Fiji Marine Conservation & Diving project.

Thursday
May222014

Fish jokes... can you do better?

A Moray Eel type of conversation……

- Bula Ray!
- How do you know his name's Ray?
- Bula Steve!
- Who's Steve??

Why is it so easy to weigh a fish?
Because they have their own scales!

Which fish is the most famous?
The star fish!

What do an angel fish and a damsel fish have in common?
They are both fish!

Find out more about the Fiji Marine Conservation & Diving project.

Wednesday
May212014

ARO Blog: Nikola Piesinger

Bula everyone!

It's been an eventful week here on Beqa, but don't worry I'll get you up to speed on everything that you've missed.

On the diving front, Dan is now officially survey ready and has set a record time of flying through all of his scientific training having nailed the indicator and family tests first time around. Congratulations Dan!

Lizzie, Matt and Angie have now officially completed their Advanced Open Water courses and are now going to be concentrating more on their scientific training. Matt and Angie had their first ever spot tests with Blue and I yesterday – we’re looking forward to some more of those!

This weekend the weather wasn't exactly working in our favour. We had a few hours per day of torrential rain and barely any sun. Due to this, we didn't have a lot of electricity so our volunteers didn't get the opportunity to charge their phones. Don't worry parents and family! Everyone is alive and well and the sun is finally out again (hooray!).

On top of the bad weather, one of our very first pets KJ the pig (Kris' namesake) passed away. It was an upsetting ordeal, but we mourned his passing respectfully and ate him for dinner. We'll miss you KJ. You were the best pig ever.

I think the passing of KJ must have triggered something in the animals. Snow White our cat has been pregnant for quite a while, and finally decided to give birth yesterday! We welcomed 3 new kittens - Olaf, Gimley, and Skittles (I named Skittles) into the family. Snow and her kittens are now on their way to Mala's father's house in Rukua.

The dogs have been rather involved in this ordeal too. We got a new puppy from the village, his name is Cobra and he's a lovely boy. AND, we woke up to the news that Xena (the warrior princess dog!) gave birth to a whopping 8 puppies last night.

Unfortunately, we had to say good-bye to some of our volunteers this past week. Chris and Rachel, it's awfully quiet without you here on base, and we miss you already. Chris was with us for 6 weeks, he was originally supposed to only be here for 4 weeks but thankfully he decided to come to his senses and extend. Jimmy misses you! Rachel was with us for a short but lovely 3 weeks and has contributed to the Beach Conservation project significantly, being the very first person to survey our site called Pride Rock! We love you, and I hope both of you have an amazing time in Australia!

Well, that's about it from me!

Don't forget to stay classy.

By Nikola Piesinger, Marine Assistant Research Officer

Find out more about the Fiji Marine Conservation & Diving project.

Wednesday
May212014

Volunteer blog: Chris George

It has been a pretty eventful week so far with all four of the new volunteers settling in extremely quickly with the rest of us on camp. Both Lizzie and Matt have completed their open water courses and at this moment in time are close to completing the advanced course. Angie has finished her advanced course and is now doing spot tests.


Unfortunately it as been an upsetting end of the week for myself due to my departure on Monday 19th! It has however been an amazing experience and I would recommend this project to anyone interested in the marine biology and environmental aspect of the geography industry.

The past few days the weather hasn’t been so favourable to us here on Beqa with torrential rain. But this gave us a chance to unveil everyone’s competitive side with various games such as UNO and Monopoly! As well as the weather another unfortunate event unfolded with one of our pet pigs KJ sadly passing away. But in light of this, we respectfully mourned him by cooking and feasting on his delicious remains.

A final thank you also has to be passed onto all the staff here who have put up with me and made this experience one to remember especially our instructor Clare, and a congratulations to newly qualified instructor Kris who now has his hands full with our new divers Angie, Lizzie and Matt. I WILL MISS EVERYONE.

By Chris George, Marine volunteer

Find out more about the Fiji Marine Conservation & Diving project.

Thursday
May082014

Adventurer blog: Rachel Fenner

I have settled in well during my first week on Beqa, although I would like some more sunshine. This week I have had various lectures on coral and fish identification. I've spent time learning the names of many different fish and have been out snorkelling seeing the fish up close.

In my spare time that I have had I've spent it getting to know my fellow camp mates and the various animals that we have here. I'm enjoying cooking for myself and the others, with all the old volunteers showing me everything I need.

This weekend the other volunteers took a trip to Suva so myself and another volunteer made the most of the quiet weekend and the sun. The table that has been under construction for the past month has made a big improvement with now all the pieces of wood having been cut.

We are welcoming 5 new volunteers to camp tomorrow and I'm looking forward to meeting and getting to know them.

By Rachel Fenner, Adventurer volunteer

Find out more about the Fiji Marine Conservation & Diving project.