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Shark Week – Fiji: Shark Diving in murky waters (Watch Video)

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For Shark Week, Scubaverse bloggers CJ and Mike share this great video and their experiences of diving with Bull sharks and more in Fiji…

Murky waters are not what usually come to mind when thinking about diving in Fiji. Unfortunately, we had timed our visit straight after the typhoon in mid-April. Having reached Viti Levu after several days delay, it was only to find that conditions were still too bad on the south coast to do any diving for a couple of days; so we contented ourselves to enjoy the beautiful island and the locals’ fantastic hospitality.

One of the dives we were most looking forward to was the famous Beqa Lagoon shark dive at the Shark Reef Marine Reserve. Being very keen on shark conservation I was interested to see how this operation worked, how it involved local people in the marine reserve and how the proceeds from tourism helped with maintaining a protected area for sharks. Luckily for us the weather settled down after a few days and we were able to book in for a shark dive!

We chose to go with Beqa Adventure Divers and booked to do two shark dives in the morning and an afternoon soft coral dive. We were greeted on arrival by a friendly and efficient front desk team and completed all the necessary paperwork. We then went through to the gear rental and equipment set-up area to get ready to dive. Here we had our only negative experience of the trip, bumping into an extremely rude man, who turned out to be one of the owners! Thankfully our interaction was a brief one and as the rest of the staff possessed the manners and professionalism sadly lacking in their boss, we moved on and did not allow this incident to ruin our whole day.

Once kitted up, our equipment was loaded onto the boat and we met our crew. The boat briefing was very good and the dive briefing thorough, with clear and precise instructions given as to where to go, when, who to follow and how to behave. The divemaster gave us strict instructions on keeping all limbs and cameras to yourself and behind the purpose built walls. The dive plan was well thought out and explained, with the aid of a dive site map. At the site we were told the visibility was likely to be lower than pictures we may have seen and to stay close to the divemaster assigned to you. We were also given a quick shark ID summary and requested to count the sharks we saw by our boat’s marine biologist. With growing excitement we kitted up and jumped in!

Once in the water we descended with our DM and took up position in front of ‘The Arena’, behind a wall built of coral rubble at 30m. Once all the divers were positioned with DMs at either end and at various points behind us with big poles, the feed began! Another DM swam above us with a wheelie bin full of tuna heads, controlling the position and timing of the dropped food so that as the Bull sharks came in they would chomp up the fish just in front and above our heads, giving a magnificent view of these huge sharks in feeding mode. For 15 minutes huge Bull sharks swam all around us, feeding and cruising past, eyeballing the group. The experience was made all the more atmospheric by the low visibility – dark shadows emerging into oncoming sharks in what felt like the last few metres!

After 15mins at depth we moved up to the next level, 10m for an another 15 minutes, to view Grey, Whitetip and Blacktip Reef sharks, which were fed fish from a smaller container by a DM. The final part of the dive was really an extended safety stop at 5m, with around 10mins to enjoy the reef sharks and abundant fish life at the top of the reef before surfacing.

With everyone buzzing about the dive we were served hot drinks and cookies on the boat, while the marine biologist took data from us, about what sharks we had seen and how many we estimated there were of each species. Apparently today was a quiet day with ‘only’ 20+ Bull sharks (they can get up to 70+ on a busy day!). He then gave us a talk on the shark species we had seen, their behaviours, and some great information about the formation of the marine reserve and their continuing projects and data collection.

After a lengthy surface interval to off-gas, we headed back in at ‘The Take Out’ to do a 15m dive for 30mins and 5m for 10mins. Here we lay on slabs of rock behind a small wall and had some even closer Bull shark action. The DM behind me occasionally had to bop a shark on the snout if it continued towards us a bit too close, but the sharks seemed very used to the routine and interested only in having a snack of tuna head. The visibility was worse on this dive, adding to the drama, but also making we wish we could experience it again in clear water. After half an hour, which seemed like only minutes with all the stunning sharky action, we headed up to safety stop depth and once again enjoyed the Reef shark feeding.

I didn’t know how I would feel about the shark dive going in, but was prepared to give it a go and I knew I would love seeing sharks in close proximity. Having done the two dive morning, I am very impressed with the set up at B.A.D. Safety wise it is excellent as the very structured dive plan contributes to the high level of control the staff have at all times. The feeding was organised to allow everyone to get a good view and close up action with the sharks, and the high ratio of DMs to divers means the staff have total control of the group and the ability to turn away any shark that gets a little too curious without any drama. Having a multi-level dive also allows divers to see several different species of shark on one dive and extend the dive time.

The staff on the boats and in the water were all locals, all of whom were knowledgable, professional and exuded a calm on a boat full of very excited tourists. I was really impressed that they had a marine biologist on each boat to provide info, take data and answer questions. Also we were told that a portion of the money from tourism goes to local communities that have given up their fishing rights in order to create and maintain the marine reserve, which is great news and a good conservation strategy.

Sadly as the weather was worsening and the vis deteriorating, the afternoon dive was called off and so we packed our things and headed off for a good lunch, all that excitement certainly works up an appetite!

On the whole, we had a really good experience with the Fiji Shark Dive in Beqa Lagoon and would recommend it to anyone who wants to see Bull sharks up close. However if you want to do lots of diving and see some of Fiji’s other world class dive sites in all their glory, I would recommend paying high season rates and travelling to Fiji outside of the typhoon season!


For more from CJ and Mike please visit their website here.

CJ and Mike are dive instructors who have travelled all over the world pursuing their passion for the underwater world. CJ is a PADI MI and DSAT Trimix instructor with a degree in Conservation biology and ecology, who has been diving for 15 years. She loves looking for critters and pointing them out for Mike to photograph. Mike is a PADI MSDT who got back into diving in 2010. He enjoys practicing underwater photography and exploring new and exciting dive locales, occasionally with more than one tank. Follow more of their diving adventures at www.bimbleintheblue.com.

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The Rescue – available on Disney+ tomorrow (Watch Trailer)

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If you missed the recent cinema debut of The Rescue film, you can watch it on streaming channel Disney+ from tomorrow December 3rd.

From Academy Award®-winning filmmakers E. Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin (Free Solo), The Rescue is the edge-of-your-seat account of the rescue of 12 Thai school boys and their soccer coach from a flooded cave system in 2018.

The Rescue chronicles the dramatic rescue of the boys and their coach, trapped deep inside a flooded cave. Academy Award®-winning directors and producers E. Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin reveal the perilous world of cave diving, the bravery of the rescuers, and the dedication of an entire community that made great sacrifices to save these young boys. An outing to explore a nearby system of caves after soccer practice transformed into a two-week saga of survival and a story that would capture the world’s attention. With exclusive access and never-before-seen footage from the rescue, the film tells the story of the imagination, determination and unprecedented teamwork displayed during this heroic edge-of-your-seat mission with life-or-death stakes.

Check back for our review of The Rescue soon!

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Marine Life & Conservation

Shark Guardian investigation finds endangered sharks for sale in Taiwan

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A field investigation into Taiwan’s shark fin industry was conducted by Shark Guardian between December 2020 and March 2021. The investigation obtained documentary evidence of fins from endangered shark species being openly offered for sale by over half of all shark fin traders surveyed in Taiwan’s southern fishing port of Kaohsiung.

Of the 13 shark fin processing and trading companies visited, more than half were found to be trading CITES- listed fins, and seven had shark fins from CITES Appendix II-listed species as part of their product range. One company saidthere was no difference in selling protected or unprotected species. Protected sharks’ products usually create a problem for international shipping only.”

The new report details how seven out of thirteen traders surveyed in Taiwan were found to be selling shark fins from silky sharks, oceanic whitetip sharks, mako sharks, thresher sharks and great white sharks in broad daylight – in contravention of Taiwanese and international law.

Over a three-month period, Shark Guardian investigators witnessed multiple shipments of shark fins from endangered species being unloaded at Donggang fish market which is in Taiwan’s southern city of Kaohsiung.

Alex Hofford, Marine Wildlife Campaigner with Shark Guardian, said “To save sharks and the marine environment, Taiwanese authorities should implement an immediate crackdown on its cruel and unsustainable shark fin trade, and should tighten up local laws to ban the domestic sale of shark fin as well as better enforce its international obligations under CITES. It is also high time that the Taiwanese government should rein in its out-of-control distant water tuna fishing fleet, who are a major supplier shark fin to Chinese markets. Whilst Taiwan is a beacon of democratic and progressive values in Asia, it is allowing its unsustainable and often crime-ridden fisheries sector to rape and pillage our ocean with impunity. This must stop. Taiwan needs to show leadership in environmental protection and must quickly clean up its act as regards its sleazy shark fisheries and trade sectors.”

During our investigation, Shark Guardian also found evidence of Taiwan-based online retailers selling fins of endangered species of shark in contravention of local and international law.

According to WWF, a third of all sharks and rays are threatened with extinction, yet fishing and trading in unsustainable shark fin remains a highly profitable, but environmentally destructive, enterprise for Taiwanese companies operating out of Kaohsiung.

Brendon Sing, Co-Director of Shark Guardian said “Clearly more must be done to protect sharks globally. There are over 500 known shark species with only a handful of them listed under CITES. Even then, CITES listed sharks are still traded illegally where monitoring and enforcement lack any power and expose loopholes in the system. As long as this continues, there is no real protection for any shark species regardless of CITES listing or not. Taiwan must be responsible and take positive action in response to this report.”

Shark Guardian believes that excessively large profit margins are the main reason why Taiwan has never acted to rein in its shark fisheries and trade.

Shark Guardian hopes that Taiwan can apply its progressive values towards preserving the marine environment by imposing a comprehensive ban on the physical and online selling all species of shark fin in Taiwan. Such a ban would go above and beyond what is required under international law, and Taiwan’s domestic laws can be changed with public support.

For more information about Shark Guardian visit their website by clicking here.

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Egypt | Safaga, Brothers & Elphinstone | 27 January – 04 February 2022 | Emperor Elite

Jump on board this famous Red Sea liveaboard and enjoy diving the famous wrecks of the Red Sea with this fantastic special offer.  Emperor Elite offers a contemporary living space combined with the best itineraries available in the Red Sea.

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  • Flights from London Gatwick to Hurghada with 23kgs baggage
  • 7 nights in shared cabin
  • 3 meals a day, soft drinks, red wine with dinner
  • 6 days’ diving, guide, 12ltr tank & weights, Marine Park fees and port departure fees
  • Free Nitrox

Booking deadline: Subject to availability.

Call Diverse Travel on 01473 852002 or email info@diversetravel.co.uk.

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