Beqa Lagoon, Fiji
The closest most of us ever got to Fiji was probably, Fiji Water, claimed to be Earth’s finest, untouched by man. That pretty much sums it up.
Where on Earth?
The Republic of Fiji consists of 333 volcanic tropic islands in the center of South Pacific, part of the continent of Oceanics. Above the sea, rugged landscapes of lush greens paint a diversity of terrains. Under the waves, circled by three of the world’s largest barrier reefs, Fiji houses some richest plethora of marine life.
Fiji’s shark diving sites offer eye-to-eye encounters with up to 8 species of sharks on a single dive (45min), from little reef sharks to magnificent bulls, Nurse, Lemon even Tigers (when you’re very lucky).
Fiji is one of the earliest visionary pioneers of shark tourism in the world –– where sharks are responsibly* fed in MPA (Marine Protected Areas) as the means to attract them in great numbers, which grows scuba diving into a leading industry in the region, generating new jobs while subsidizing fishermen no longer allowed to fish in the area. On one hand, Fiji is the living proof of the power of sustainable shark tourism and that the animals are worth more alive than dead. On the other hand, its multiprong approach to tourism, research and legislation exemplifies best practices in stakeholder management that inspired so many island nations alike that depend on marine resources.
*Tour operators and teams on the field conduct ongoing trialing, monitoring and research to ensure proper shark provisioning that doesn’t alter their natural behavior or anatomy.
Many consider Fiji the “Soft Coral Capital of the World”. It’s home to several hundred types of corals and sponges and over 1000 fish species, teeming with colors and life.
We’ve seen up to 20 percent coral bleaching in the past decade from the thermal stress from the El Nino cycle. Then in Feb 2016, Fiji was hit by Category 5 storm Cyclone Winston, adding significant mechanical damage to the Northern reefs and fish life. The good news is the cyclone was able to bring down water temperature by several degrees thereby alleviating the impact from global warming. In the last few years with the hard work from local authorities and communities, the most damaged areas all see signs of recovery.
Who is Who
Beqa Adventure Divers at Pacific Harbor, arguably the best- and longest-run dive operations in Fiji with staff better trained than Iron Man, literally, in their badass, stainless steel chainmail suits. BTW Beqa also has the best tees – the muscle tee remains my fav dive souvenirs ever.
The Awakening Shark Dive is a new site in Yawasa developed by Shark Expert Dr. Thomas Vignaud, also based on sustainable provisions.
Visited May 2016, land-based.
Cover image by Alexander Safonov.