Thursday
Apr242014

Assistant Research Officer Blog - Blue Raasch

Welcome To Beqa Island!

Bula everyone! I’ve made it to Beqa Island and am thrilled to be here.  I am Blue, the new Assistant Research Officer for the Fiji Marine Project.  It is so lovely to be here.  On the boat ride from Navua, on the mainland, to base there was a full rainbow, and a divine sunset, absolute perfect way to start my journey as Frontier staff. I live in a cute little Fijian hut with the rest of the staff, currently just the ladies, Niki and Clare, and am eager to meet our Principal Investigator, Kris. I spend my days studying tropical reef fish required for research surveys, learning Frontier health and safety protocols and learning the general way that the base is run. 

Outside my door I can see jaina (bananas), weleti (papayas), moli (oranges), niu (coconuts) and many farm animals; among them are our two vuaka (pigs), three pusi (cats) and 7 koli (dogs). In the morning the toa (chickens) wake me with their ‘cooing’ before I share breakfast with the volunteers.  We then kit up and get ready to dive. Upon getting all of our gear ready and completing our buddy checks, we make our way down to the boat to start our morning dive. Today was my first day back in the water in over a month and I was incredibly excited to take one of our volunteers out on a “Fish Point Out Dive.” We saw many fun things this morning; trumpet fish, lobster, pretty Butterfly fish, and many other indicator species.  The volunteer, Jess, really impressed me with her knowledge of fish species –she knew almost every fish that I pointed out to her. Great job!

The rest of the week I plan to continue settling in, finish all of the necessary presentations, paperwork and start working with the volunteers on their studies. I’m eager to contribute to the project and start making life on base run like a well-oiled machine. This weekend is Easter and I think base has planned a welcome Kava ceremony for me, which is really generous of them. I’m hoping that we’ll get the opportunity to visit the waterfall that I’ve heard loads about that supplies all of our water, including our drinking water. On Easter Sunday I plan to walk to the neighbouring village to attend mass at the local church, and give my thanks for all of my many blessings. 

Vinaka! Will be in touch soon!

Blue.

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

Wednesday
Apr162014

ARO Blog: Nikola Piesinger

Bula from Beqa! Another week has come and gone. Time really flies fast on this little island.

Caitlin, Chris and Jess have settled into camp life very well and have just finished their Open Water course. Well done guys! They have also been furiously revising for their Indicator tests and have all passed with flying colours. Now it's time for their Advanced Open Water course, and some in-water spot tests.

We've been running dangerously low on tanks because our compressor has had somewhat of a hissy fit, but diving continues anyway.

This weekend was particularly lazy for some of us. Calvin and Lina went to Suva and Nadi for the weekend, which meant that there were only 3 volunteers (Jess, Caitlin and Chris) on base! They learned the camp ropes very quickly this weekend and have been honing their cooking skills. They've been doing quite well! We had some particularly yummy tuna mayo flatbread wraps. It was heaven.

Unfortunately, this weekend also meant that we had to say some more good-byes. Alison, Jamie and Leila, you'll be sorely missed on camp. We wish you all the best and we miss you already!

Also! Just yesterday, we got to welcome a new ARO to our little Frontier FJM Family. Her name is Blue, she’s from Canada and she's lovely.

Oh, and as a side note, Jimmy (one of the kittens) can swim! He followed Jess and Chris down to the river the other day when they were building a rope swing, and went for a little swim with them. 

AND, I made it to the river! Finally! - It's absolutely beautiful. I can't believe I've been here for so long and still haven't been until a few days ago. Great success! Very nice!

That's 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
Apr162014

Volunteer blog: Jess Playle

Bula!

Having now been here on Beqa for just over a week, us new volunteers have settled in very well to camp life.

Clare, our dive instructor has been amazing at teaching us all the open water diving skills and hopefully we will have completed all the dives to officially become open water divers by the end of the week. Yesterday afternoon we had two great dives and saw many of the fish that we have been revising already for our indicator test this afternoon with Niki.

On Friday we had a leaving ceremony for Leila, Jamie and Alison; camp seems very quiet without them and we'll definitely miss them. Calvin and Lina have spent the weekend in Suva, which has meant that the three of us new volunteers have very quickly learnt all the camp duties. We have become pretty good in the kitchen, favourite meals have been tuna and onion with flatbread, mackerel pasties and pancakes with bananas on Saturday.

As well as all the diving, we have been able to explore the Island, including a trek up the creek to see the waterfalls and a rather ambitious idea of building a rope swing down by the river on the beach. It also turns out that Jimmy (one of the three kittens), is pretty good at swimming!

We are looking forward to meeting our new assistant research officer later today and more diving throughout the week.

By Jess Playle, Marine volunteer

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

Thursday
Apr102014

Volunteer Blog: Leila Osman

This week we welcomed the new volunteer Leila to our little home on Beqa. After a night of cava and sulus (a typical Fijian welcome ceremony), we were thrown back into another amazing week of diving with me completing her open water while the rest of the team continued with surveying. Between us we saw a massive amount of fish species, including a white tip shark, a large jellyfish and a great barracuda.

On camp we saw the construction of a new camp building and trenches to cope with the Fijian rain that hit for a couple of days that week. The week flew by and on Friday the camp welcomed the "suvaneers" (the Suva volunteers) for a weekend of diving, snorkelling, volleyball and star gazing. Two suvaneers completed their open water dive certification whilst the others got sucked into camp life, helping with construction work and cooking for the hungry divers coming back from the sea. After a sad goodbye to the suvaneers on Sunday we relaxed into our mosquito nets, exhausted but ready for another week on our beautiful Fijian island.

By Leila Osman, Marine Volunteer

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

Thursday
Apr102014

ARO Blog: Nikola Piesinger

Bula everyone! Niki here, bringing you the latest updates from Beqa.

There's some exciting news on the scientific training front. Jamie passed her practice surveys with flying colours and is now an official member of the survey team! Congratulations Jamie! Lina passed her families test last week and is now working on getting her methodology on lock before she officially begins to survey too. Leila has blown through her Open Water course and is now almost finished with her Advanced Open Water.

The diving has been great this week, since we were blessed with great visibility on most days. There was a white tip shark sighting (the first one we've had in a while) out near Bikini. Juvenile sweetlips have been spotted on numerous occasions this week, which is great because they're cute. We also think that we might have a resident barracuda on one of our dive sites in the bay.

This past weekend was quite eventful. We were graced with the presence of the Suva volunteers who FINALLY made it to Beqa! It was a full house, but it was very entertaining. We took them out for a few snorkels, and some even got to go out on a dive or two! It was fun showing them around our island and letting them have a taste of Beqa island life.

Finally, a very big "Bula!" and welcome to our three new volunteers:  Chris, Caitlin and Jessica. Welcome to the FJM family! This week is going to be very exciting as it's the first time all of them are going to be diving! They're due to get through their Open Water course over the course of this week. Fun times ahead!

Don't forget to stay classy.

By Nikki Piesinger, Marine Assistant Research Officer

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