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.

Thursday
Mar272014

ARO Blog: Nikola Piesinger

Bula!

Another week has come and gone on Beqa, and what an interesting week it has been.

A huge "bula" and welcome to our newest volunteer, Laila! Welcome to the Frontier Fiji Marine family. We hope you enjoy your stay. Laila is due to complete her Open Water course this week with Clare and then move on to her Advanced Open Water soon. Exciting times ahead!

The beginning of last week marked Kian's first official survey! After blowing through and absolutely nailing his practice surveys he was excited to get started.
Flo managed to pass her indicators test at the beginning of the week and quickly moved on to families and ended up dominating that test too! She actually just had her first practice survey today, and she did very well!

We've had quite a bit of luck last week as far as visibility was concerned. We went to Mala's Rock for the first time (for many of us) and the visibility was out of this world! It was as good as any of us have ever seen it, which was very exciting. There were lots of things to see - including a cute teeny tiny little juvenile sweetlips, a swimming flatworm, plenty of nudibranches, and the odd grumpy grouper hiding in little caves.

Can't wait to see what this week will bring.

Don't forget to stay classy.

By Nikola Piesinger, Marine Assistant Research Officer

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

Thursday
Mar202014

VOLUNTEER BLOG: Carolina Ricchi (Lina) and Florence Atherden

Chapter 1, Some people went diving.
Lina and Flo finished all their dives for their Advanced Open Water Diver and are just waiting on the results of their knowledge reviews. They are pretty confident. Brandon had his last dive and saved Lina and Niki from getting lost! But Lewis, Calvin, Alison and Kian couldn't dive because of minor cuts; nobody wants infection!!!  

Chapter 2, The Storm
So this week was dominated by rumors of Cyclone Lusi who threatened to dampen our spirits over the weekend. A long awaited trip to Suva had been planned, but instead we had to prepare and hunker down. This included duct taping some of the holes in our house, pushing the boat on land, and moving all the dive equipment and tanks into Niki's room (she had to move out and sleep next to Calvin – the poor dear). On Thursday the weather was fine and clear, leaving some of us suspicious of this so called Cyclone, until Claire showed us the weather report and most of us had texted our parents just to check that is wasn't an elaborate ruse to surprise us with a trip to Suva.... But it turned out it was! Suva Suva Suva! (Claire and Niki still insisted there was no plot but Lusi chickened out and we got the community boat at 7am on Friday Morning)

Chapter 3, Reunited again
Whilst in Suva we happened to run into Jamie and Kris! Kris has lost some of his tan and some of his hair but Jamie was looking much better and ready to come out and sample some culture with us! Or so we thought... Instead we were left to make friends with the Suva volunteers without her! Who were lots of fun, and we have arranged another play date with them this weekend – but this time its at our house!

Chapter 4, Suva itself!
Everyone fully exploited the air-con, cold drinks and chocolate on offer leaving some out of pocket by the end of the weekend. Lina brought the biggest bag of food back ever. EVER. Flo dropped a cake, but everyone still ate it anyway and Calvin dropped some vodka, he is a huge disappointment. Calvin belly flopped at the waterfalls, twice! The local Fijians enjoyed it very much. Alison made a trip to Micky D's which was very very interesting, and nearly got her burping crown taken from her. Nearly. She is making up for it now in camp. We had our goodbye meal with Brandon on Saturday evening where Niki ordered incredibly well and was willing to share (much to our delight). We then had another meal with Brandon on Sunday night because it's Suva and we could. We will miss Brandon very much, he was the unsung hero of camp. Boredom on Monday morning resulted in Lewis's first piercing! He was a massive baby, and now has a water ban.

Chapter 5, Home sweet home
We returned to find that the cats had not peed on our beds! We also found some new arrivals! Chicks! Sadly we think they belong to the Fijian chickens, not ours. Lucy the pig is still loose and we have some bananas! Jamie is back so that means banana cake! And it's Lina's birthday today which means even more cake (except flo is unreliable)!! Looking forward to our weekend with the Suva Volunteers and then meeting the new arrival on Monday!

By Carolina Ricchi (Lina) and Florence Atherden, Volunteers

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

Thursday
Mar202014

ARO BLOG: CLARE BROWN

Last week the weather was good and we managed to dive every day. I finished the advanced courses with Flo and Lina and they finished all the theory so they are now both fully qualified Advance Open Water Divers –congratulations to them both. Flo had a great Navigation dive as the visibility was very poor but she still managed to navigate a square and find the boat again, very impressive. Lina particularly enjoyed her peak performance buoyancy dive during which she learnt to hover in a Buddha position, like superman and upside down! Lina now only needs one weight to dive and she started out with three, good job!

We also said goodbye to Brandon last week. Brandon has been a great volunteer with a huge knowledge of pretty much everything. After his final dive Brandon demonstrated Newton’s law of motion that everything has an equal and opposite reaction by floating vertically at the surface and using his regulator as a propeller to turn himself around! All on camp will miss him and we wish him well for his future travels with Frontier in Central America.

This week we welcome Jamie back after she spent some time recovering in Suva. We hope to get Jamie and Kian survey ready this week. We also hope to get Flo and Lina through their indicator and family ID tests.

On Thursday we were planning for a cyclone (Lusi) which we expected to hit us on Thursday night or Friday morning so we had to batten down the hatches, move everything into the house and, thankfully, the storm didn't it us after all! Therefore on Friday all the volunteers went on a well earned R&R trip in Suva. It was a surprise for the volunteers who didn't think we were going to be able to go. Everyone had a goodtime and they returned to camp on Monday ready for another weeks diving and surveying.

By Clare Brown, Dive Officer

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