ARO Blog: Blue Raasch

Yandra (G’morning) friends and family!

Assistant Research Officer, Blue, here again to fill you in on the past week’s events.  This week was very productive.  We had three of our lovely volunteer’s Jess, Caitlin and Chris, complete their PADI Advanced Open Water certifications – Well done! I am well on my way into settling into the Beqa Island family and am happy to say that I have completed all of my training lectures and am now doing in water training. The volunteers have been making lots of progress on their science training and have passed both their Fish Indicator and Fish Family tests.  It won’t be long until they are out collecting research data! 

On Thursday we went to my new favourite site, named “Vuvalae”, meaning family in Fijian, where we had the pleasure of watching a pod of dolphins swim in the waves by our boat! It was an incredible experience and left all of us cheering and smiling.  The site itself is lovely.  It starts off with a big coral bommie where the boat is moored and leads into many small reef patches surrounding it.  On our way down, myself and Niki, our other ARO, saw a White Tipped Reef Shark! Our first shark sighting since I’ve been here.  My underwater screaming through my regulator was luckily enough noise to get the attention of my dive buddies during our dive when the White Tip Reef Shark came around a second time! All in all it was a magnificent day and some incredible diving. 

This past weekend we had to say farewell to one of our long-term volunteers Lina. Moce (Goodbye) Lina, you will be missed.  Lina completed two fish surveys before her departure and contributed to our research and marine conservation efforts.  We’ve also had two new additions to our small island family, Rachael and Maureen. Welcome ladies! 

Until next week, Moce


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


Volunteer blog: Chris George 

Our dearly beloved campmates (Calvin and Lina) eventually returned after going to Suva/ Nadi for the weekend and leaving just 3 of us here (Jess, Caitlin and myself). So for some of the week it was extremely quiet. We missed you guys!

When Calvin returned we also welcomed are new dive ARO Blue. We wish you a pleasant stay with us and hope you enjoy your time here. She is a vegetarian who likes grilled cheese sandwiches and is learning to knit.

Jess, Caitlin and myself have finished our open water course thanks to our instructor Clare! We have since begun our Advanced Open Water course and only have one dive left until we are qualified. We have completed our deep dive where we learned that the colour red looks black when you are at 22 meters under the sea, because all the red light is absorbed. We have also learnt how to navigate and we managed to find our way back to the boat without (much) help! We have also been studying hard for our fish identification test and having all passed the indicator tests and are now studying fish families.

Following some confusion regarding the noises that rabbits and pigs make, instead of the easter bunny coming this year to camp, we had the delight of welcoming the 'easter bunny pig' who left us some surprise presents while we were sleeping.

We each received two packets of mini teddie cookies, which were greatfully received. Following this, it was off to church for the girls down in Rakua for an Easter service. Whilst the majority of the service was in Fijian they did make a point of adding in a little English. Towards the end of the sermon Blue was asked to say a few words on behalf of the girls and Frontier. She thanked everyone for being so gracious and welcoming. After the sermon they had an Easter brunch of Taro, fresh fish, chicken soup and Fijian asparagus was on the menu. With their bellies full they decided to hike uphill to the falls with the local children in tow.


By Chris George, Marine Research Assistant volunteer

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


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!


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


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.


Volunteer blog: Jess Playle


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.