Wednesday
Feb122014

Volunteer Blog: Brandon Burda

The last two weeks have interesting to say the least, last Friday on the 31st we sadly had to say goodbye to Emma our ARO who aided in many parts of our day to day lives here at camp, as well as offering a great sense of humor and light heartedness. We also had to say goodbye to our volunteer Cara, who spent 4 weeks here with us at the Frontier Fiji Marine Project. They will both be missed by all those on camp. With their departures though, we also have had six new arrivals, Claire our new dive officer, and our new volunteers Shaun, Kian, Nicky, Alison and Jamie, who over the next few days and weeks will be finishing up their scuba diving certifications and learning all their indictor and fish families. We will soon be welcoming Nicky a new RO onto base, we would like to on the behalf of every one on here wish them welcome and hope that they enjoy their time with us . With the new arrivals with great fanfare we at camp have acquired our very own camp oven, which was christened by the backing of our first loaf of bread for Kris’ birthday celebration Thursday night.

Kris and the new oven

Due to weather conditions we were unable to dive as much as we would have hoped for our last week of January, leading to many shenanigans and hi-jinx at camp. Of note being Calvin, surprising everyone by shaving his head, and Lewis through his use of the machete gaining a face full of coconut water and mush. Along with the hijinks with the extra time we were able to learn and practice some traditional Fijian cuisine, such that these January showers have brought February donuts, a new camp favorite. Our menu now also includes a special coconut rice, which involves the soaking and removal of coconut meat.

All in all its been a productive few weeks here at Frontier’s Fiji Marine camp, and we look forward to all that February has to offer.

-          This Blog post in written in honour of our deceased puppy Damsel aka “Gooaaaatt”, she will be dearly missed.

By Brandon Burda, marine volunteer

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

Wednesday
Feb122014

ARO Blog: Cameron Hookey

The 'pool'

4.2.14 Wuh-oh, we got hit with the bug. The best thing about living in a small field camp is that you are surrounded by people all the time. The worst thing is that you are literally surrounded by people all the time. Once one person gets a cough, a headache, or a pungent smell, everyone else soon falls with them. This last week was a little bit of a slow one, as everyone was taking turns missing dives because of sickness. But the good news is that everyone is feeling better!

This blog is being written in anxious anticipation of the new volunteers, who will be arriving this afternoon on the community boat. Fresh meat. It also means the next week will be busy with training and orientation, and we will once again work hard to get everyone survey ready ASAP.

Last Friday was a sad day for us, as we said goodbye to long term ARO Emma, and RA Cara. There were tears shed, hugs shared, and left over belongings shot-gunned. Kim got another bikini to add to her collection (thanks Cara)- she has managed to not wear a bikini that actually belongs to her in the last four days.

The weather has been beautiful for those of us hanging on the island this weekend. Mala the handiest of handymen has completed a brand new septic tank, which everyone will be very thankful for. The bathroom is actually located IN the house- how modern! Unfortunately the septic tank took the place of our pool. This was intentional and timely, as a recent outbreak of Dengue Fever in Fiji has led us to take extra precautions. And let’s be honest, after the pool became a hangout for the local frog gang, no one ventured in.

Should be lots to update for next week, as we are all excited about seeing some new faces, and beating them all in the cards games we have become professionals at. Over and out!

The chickens

11.2.14 This was the first week we heard talk of missing the cold. Only for a brief second mind you, but the thought was there. Somedays it feels like your sweat is actually sweating. But then you are hit by a cool tropical breeze and are transported once again into paradise mode.  

This week we welcome 5 new volunteers and two new staff members. This addition also means we now have a resident dive officer, and will be able to conduct diving courses in our own backyard.  Just this week we have had lots of fun finishing up some open water and advanced diver certifications, and today got started on some new Rescue Divers. The location of perfect- we can practice rescue situations without having to explain to other divers and other boats that the “unresponsive” diver is in fact Felix, and perfectly fine.

This new group of volunteers (Shaun, Jaime, Nici, Kian, and Alison) are fast learners, having learned all of their indicator species in two days. Could be the case that we will have some survey-ready volunteers on our hands sooner than we expected. When we have not been training up the new volunteers or giving lectures, there has been some great volleyball matches in the works. Even the locals came up for a game or two, and showed us how bad we actually were.

The farm is doing well. Chickens have been let free for the time being until Navua gets in another shipment of chicken feed, the pigs continue to wreak havoc and get loose, and the kittens sleep all day and annoy us all night. Once again with a new group of volunteers, all the animals are getting love and attention, and in turn providing a small comfort of home to everyone.

This weekend we will say goodbye to a few new friends, and quite a few of the crew are heading over to Suva to “eat good food and watch movies”.  It  will be a nice break before the survey work begins.

By Cameroon Hookey, Marine ARO

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

Wednesday
Feb122014

ARO Blog: Cameron Hookey

4.2.14 Wuh-oh, we got hit with the bug. The best thing about living in a small field camp is that you are surrounded by people all the time. The worst thing is that you are literally surrounded by people all the time. Once one person gets a cough, a headache, or a pungent smell, everyone else soon falls with them. This last week was a little bit of a slow one, as everyone was taking turns missing dives because of sickness. But the good news is that everyone is feeling better!

This blog is being written in anxious anticipation of the new volunteers, who will be arriving this afternoon on the community boat. Fresh meat. It also means the next week will be busy with training and orientation, and we will once again work hard to get everyone survey ready ASAP.

Last Friday was a sad day for us, as we said goodbye to long term ARO Emma, and RA Cara. There were tears shed, hugs shared, and left over belongings shot-gunned. Kim got another bikini to add to her collection (thanks Cara)- she has managed to not wear a bikini that actually belongs to her in the last four days.

The weather has been beautiful for those of us hanging on the island this weekend. Mala the handiest of handymen has completed a brand new septic tank, which everyone will be very thankful for. The bathroom is actually located IN the house- how modern! Unfortunately the septic tank took the place of our pool. This was intentional and timely, as a recent outbreak of Dengue Fever in Fiji has led us to take extra precautions. And let’s be honest, after the pool became a hangout for the local frog gang, no one ventured in.

Should be lots to update for next week, as we are all excited about seeing some new faces, and beating them all in the cards games we have become professionals at. Over and out!

11.2.14 This was the first week we heard talk of missing the cold. Only for a brief second mind you, but the thought was there. Somedays it feels like your sweat is actually sweating. But then you are hit by a cool tropical breeze and are transported once again into paradise mode.  

This week we welcome 5 new volunteers and two new staff members. This addition also means we now have a resident dive officer, and will be able to conduct diving courses in our own backyard.  Just this week we have had lots of fun finishing up some open water and advanced diver certifications, and today got started on some new Rescue Divers. The location of perfect- we can practice rescue situations without having to explain to other divers and other boats that the “unresponsive” diver is in fact Felix, and perfectly fine.

This new group of volunteers (Shaun, Jaime, Nici, Kian, and Alison) are fast learners, having learned all of their indicator species in two days. Could be the case that we will have some survey-ready volunteers on our hands sooner than we expected. When we have not been training up the new volunteers or giving lectures, there has been some great volleyball matches in the works. Even the locals came up for a game or two, and showed us how bad we actually were.

The farm is doing well. Chickens have been let free for the time being until Navua gets in another shipment of chicken feed, the pigs continue to wreak havoc and get loose, and the kittens sleep all day and annoy us all night. Once again with a new group of volunteers, all the animals are getting love and attention, and in turn providing a small comfort of home to everyone.

This weekend we will say goodbye to a few new friends, and quite a few of the crew are heading over to Suva to “eat good food and watch movies”.  It  will be a nice break before the survey work begins.

By Cameroon Hookey, Marine ARO

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

Tuesday
Feb042014

Volunteer Blog: Celina Ramsay

Bula! I’m Celina and I have been on the FJM project for 2 weeks now!

The beginning of the week started off sad as we said goodbye to Ali Miles, who has completed his 20 week project in Beqa :( But the week carried on with plenty of dives including our Advanced open water training for PADI, which means all of us are all up to the right level for our training!

Kris also did an amazing thing and bought us our new volleyball net. Unfortunately haven’t been able to use it as the days have been disgustingly hot and have rendered us completely lazy on the weekends, which meant lots of movie watching (groovy baby, YEAH!)

We also got to do an amazing wreck dive on a 30 metre long fishing boat. All the advanced divers (including me) spent ten minutes trying to swim through the current to it but Felix, like a boss, snorkelled down to 20m no problem and made us all look bad haha!

The last week has been fun for everyone bar Calvin, who received the first ever water ban because of his overly scratched mosquito bites. But now his scabby little feet are almost 100% on the way to recovery so he will be back in the water this week, raisin’ hell and will stop his duties as boat girl.

That’s pretty much it for this week.

Stay excellent!

By Celina Ramsay, volunteer

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

Tuesday
Feb042014

ARO Blog: Cameron Hookey

What a week for diving! Early on in the workweek we had some of the best visibility since I have been here. Perfect for spot tests. With pretty much everyone survey-ready, we now have a week of data collection ahead of us.

We also have three new advanced divers in Brandon, Celina and Lewis. Greg came over midweek and completed the next level of training, teaching them about underwater navigation, buoyancy control, and even throwing in a cool wreck dive. Greg being here was a means for celebration, so our fearless leader Kris treated everyone to a highly anticipated chicken dinner.

Last week was also the grand opening of the FJM Tuck Shop, providing little pieces of luxury for the volunteers at a low price. So far we can’t keep Pringles on the shelves. Even the pizza flavor are selling, granted only when all the other options have been snagged up. All the proceeds of the Tuck Shop will be used towards camp upgrades, possibly a cooker?  The thought of it makes our mouths drool.

All the animals are doing well. KJ the pig has officially broken his carabineer, so congratulations to him. He has also learned that if he escapes and THEN takes a quick mud bath, he is much less likely to be rounded up immediately. The puppies have taken to idolizing the big dogs, competing in grossly unbalanced wrestling matches and putting on their most intimidating bark when an intruder comes around. They still won’t go near the cats.

We have also added another source of entertainment to the camp, a beautiful volleyball net. Now all we need is for Fiji to cool down a bit so we can use it properly. We also need to get better, as Mala continues to embarrass us on the court, along with his 6 year old son.

By Cameron Hookey, Marine ARO

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