William Quayle - Shark Conservation in Fiji
In January 2014, I decided that I needed to do something with my summer holiday instead of spending three months at home. I decided to volunteer with Projects Abroad for a second time, as two years ago I went to Cambodia on a Marine Conservation project.
Arriving in Fiji
In July 2014, after three days of traveling, I finally arrived in the most beautiful country on earth, Fiji. During this project you will experience some of the most amazing moments of your life, whether it involves meeting the awesome Fijian people, making new friends with people from around the world, or tagging and diving with incredible sharks.
The Shark Conservation Placement in Fiji
I first learned to dive when I was in Cambodia, but had not continued since being back in the UK and I couldn’t wait to get back into the water in Fiji, which was crystal clear and very warm. However, I must stress that you do not need any previous diving experience to volunteer on this project. The dive masters at Beqa Adventure Divers will give you first class diving lessons to bring you up to speed.
Now for the part you are probably most interested to hear about; the shark dives. There is no easy way to describe this magical moment as words cannot convey what you will see.
From the first moment you get on the boat you are tingling with excitement, as you leave the river you are then briefed on what to do and what to expect from the dive. Once you get to the shark reef you then descend as a group to 30 meters and as you go down you slowly but surely start to see the three and a half meter long Bull Sharks. Then once you get to the bottom the spectacle really begins. But I will leave the rest for you to witness personally.
One of the other amazing tasks to do when you are not diving is tagging baby sharks.
This involves going onto a boat and sailing up a river with a group of volunteers and setting a line up across the river with bait for the baby sharks to hook on to. This is done with some of the members of staff. While waiting for the sharks to bite you can relax with the other volunteers listening to music and reading books. The best time to go tagging is in the morning when the magnificent sunrise blazes into view and takes up half the sky, truly a sight to behold.
The Mangrove Project
At this point I should tell you about the country of Fiji; on this project I spent many hours getting to know the island and the people who live on it.
You spend at least one day a week working with the community to help educate the locals about conservation which could involve going to local villages or going to schools to teach the children about the effects of littering. This really helps the project as it brings to the attention of the Fijian government what we are trying to achieve.
This then brings me onto the next activity we did and that was to protect and reforest the mangrove trees which are in dire need of protection. The mangroves are what sharks use as nursery grounds for their young pups. The Mangrove trees also are used to protect the very island that I worked on. The trees help bind the soil together to protect it from potential soil erosion from the ocean.
My Overall Experience
To sum up Fiji really is the greatest place to visit, volunteer and live. You will make great friends from around the world; you will volunteer on a programme that is really helping to change negative views of sharks.
This is all supported by a friendly, encouraging and dedicated staff team who will make sure that your experience in Fiji is one of the best of your lives. And to top it of Fiji is the most idyllic setting anyone could possibly hope for.
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