Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Thank you!

2007 has been Beqa Adventure Divers' most amazing year yet.

Despite the political upheavals and the discouraging -and unneccessary- travel advisory warnings and after a frightening dip in dive bookings in early January, the year started with a bang as we were named Fiji's Best Dive Operator, a wonderful surprise and a great honor. Like last year's glowing report by the Lonely Planet, the AON Awards are not based on often questionable self-promotion but are instead a true peer review by other local Tourism Operators.

On the Conservation front, we were finally able to expand the protected area of Shark Reef Marine Reserve by signing on yet another local community, the huge village of Deuba with their enormous fishing grounds. We've named the resulting 30-mile protected coastline the Fiji Shark Corridor and are very confident that it comprises most of the territories of our smaller Reef Sharks and Bull Sharks, but probably also those of our resident Tiger Sharks.

And, to my utter surprise and delight, we're likely to post our first ever small profit!
This despite having decided to secure our uncompromising quality standards by replacing our 3-year old engines and most of our dive gear, hiring a high-profile Dive Instructor and paying out a whopping 15 grand in bonuses to our loyal, incomparable BAD boys and girls.
Also, Village payments are likely to top $ 35,000.-, more than double last year's.

That all was only possible thanks to you, our loyal customers!
Along with scores of diving VIPs, more than 3,000 intrepid sharkaholics braved the doomsday scenarios and their very own personal Angst to pay a vist to our toothy friends and thus make a valuable contribution to Shark Conservation.
Thank you so much for that!

Many of you then took the time to post your experience on the web, often a funny and exhilarating read, let alone fabulous footage and photos.
Did I find a single complaint? Of course not!
Here's a small selection of what's out there, well worth having a peek at:

- Personal reports:
. Kevin Baldacchino
. Sam and Andy
. "Blue Legend"
. Tom Huck (......!)
. Darren Frost and Kerry Stephens
. "adiver69"
. Greg Davis
. Minna and Justin
. Michael Patrick O'Neill
. "Home or Away"
. Aidan and Danni
. Emma + Mark

- Group Reports:
. Shark Diving International
. Academic Treks

- Reviews:
. Dive Site Directory
. Dive the World

- Articles:
. Underwater Australasia
. XRay Magazine
. The Independent
. NZ Herald

- Research
. Brunnschweiler, Earle

- Images (just one of many many many....)
. Pterantula

I wish you a prosperous and adventure-filled 2008!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

New Suits for The Shark Dive Team

As I'm sure you can all imagine; the daily rigours of diving take their toll on scuba gear; none more so than wetsuits. You pull them, yank the zippers, stretch them and generally they get manhandled to a degree that they eventually give up. When one's foot passes through the knee pad, you definitely know it's time for replacement.

Having heard great reviews from guests about Pinnacle Aquatics line of suits, Andrew headed over to check them out whilst at DEMA earlier this year. It did not take long to be convinced about the suits and the order was placed for new dive team suits and new rental suits.

The crew are now decked out in the 5mm Merino Elastiprene and the rental fleet of suits is now made up of the 5/4mm Merino Fusion suits. If you are looking at reducing your travel bag weight; rest assured that a complete line of top-notch rental gear is available in a range of sizes. Maybe you are considering a Pinnacle suit but want to try one out; just ask one of the crew and they'll be more than happy to set you up with one next time you go diving with us.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Must Buy!

I did not realize it then - but that red cruise ship sinking in Antarctica on November 23 had previously been the Lindblad Explorer.

That's the ship where I first met Ron and Valerie Taylor 30 years ago.
There was Bengt Danielsson from the Kon Tiki, big Mike McDowell was the Cruise Director, Jeremiah Sullivan was in charge of diving and Ron would take down a fat american lady to dive on (!) the anchor chain, where she would spend a grand total of 20 minutes happily snapping away at passing fish. She had just bought herself a new underwater housing and was complaining that the strobe, a brand-new, state-of-the-art Oceanic 2001, wasn't working.
Ron, then at the very top of his game, smiled his ever patient, humble smile and asked: "Did you switch it on?"
Of course she hadn't.

I adored Ron. Of course, like everybody else, I fell in love with Valerie.
I did my first wreck dive on the Coolidge, barely escaped a tribal war in Kiriwina, bought a trolling lure on Tikopia, got stitched up by a sword seller in Suva and later harrassed by the gay manager of Fiji's Mana Island Resort.
A memorable trip. Still beats me why I ever went back to Fiji.

Valerie then cooked me the first of her delicious dinners in their lovely home in Sydney (the last one being when she and Brenda Adkison torched my kitchen in Pacific Harbour) and we've been best friends ever since. They are the most wonderful, humble, loving people ever.
Ron and Val have been involved in the Fiji Shark Project ever since we discussed its outline on the back deck of Pelagian during the 2002 Voyage of Discovery, one of many memorable expeditions we've since done together.
I owe them my first lessons in underwater photography ("get close") and videography ("aim and press the red button"), thousands of insights into shark behaviour ("tiger sharks are sweet") and our very best marketing endorsement.

But above all, I owe them my first introduction to the wonderful world of the Shark.
Their epic movie "Blue Water White Death" showcases some of the most dramatic, jaw-dropping shark footage ever filmed, never to be repeated again. It has been finally released on DVD after having been lost in CBS' vaults for several decennia.

A must buy!

Ron and Valerie will be with us in February for the running of the Bulls.

Saturday, November 24, 2007


Ever heard about TOPP?
Me neither, until Karen from our Tongan friends and partners at Dive Vava'u (please ask about our special, two-country adventure packages during the Tongan Humpback season) pointed me to their awesome Website.

TOPP stands for Tagging Of Pacific Predators and aims at determining the Pacific Ocean's hot spots where apex predators congregate to feed and mate, as well as the prevailing oceanic migratory routes they follow.
It began in 2000 as one of 17 projects of the Census of Marine Life, an ambitious 10-year, 80-nation endeavor to assess and explain the diversity and abundance of life in the oceans, and where that life has lived, is living, and will live.

Several dozen TOPP researchers from eight countries began venturing into offshore waters, remote islands, and along rugged coastlines to attach satellite tags to 22 different species of top predators that roam the Pacific Ocean. As of 2007, they have tagged more than 2,000 animals, including Elephant Seals, Great White Sharks, Leatherback Turtles, Blue Whales, Squid, Albatross and Sooty Shearwaters.
As these animals began sending back data via Argos, a polar-orbiting satellite, they opened the door to a world we'd never seen before: a picture of their migration routes and their ecosystem.

Take as an example the map pictured here which shows the interweaving tracks of several tagged pelagic species , including Laysan Albatross (blue dotted line in the western Pacific Ocean), Leatherback Turtles, (white tracks), Salmon Sharks (in red), and Elephant Seals (in green).

And what about the tagging we do at Shark Reef?
In due course, I don't know when, I don't know how, we'll be part of it all - and that's a Promise!

In the meantime, the site offers a cornucopia of Data, Publications and News which is second to none and that will entertain and amaze you for weeks and months to come.


Saturday, November 10, 2007

Awesome new Pictures!

Meet Klaus Jost, gentleman and photographer extraordinaire!

Never mind having to schlepp along half a dozen cameras and a score of strobes, never mind being limited to 36 exposures allowing for only moderate, and above all, tedious post-production: Klaus is truly what the Germans call "alte Schule" and wouldn't dream about relinquishing his venerable Nikonos RS with its unique underwater optics in favor of that modern digital "Firlefanz" cluttering the camera market.
And why should he: so far, the quality and detail of his wideangle shots remains unmatched!

As is his generosity: despite being a full professional, Klaus will always donate his pictures for the cause of Education and Conservation, as documented by countless websites and publications worldwide. Bravo und Danke mein Lieber!

Having gained international recognition with his pictures and reports about breaching Great Whites, Klaus has shifted his focus to the South Pacific. He has been with us three times now and his shark portfolio is a vivid testimony to both his excellent skills and the fact that Shark Reef never fails to produce. This is a long-term endeavor as Klaus has embarked on the monumental task of trying to document not only every Shark, but also all of the other Fish life within the Reserve.

With a new fish count imminent in January, that task is likely to become even more daunting!

You can savor Klaus' latest Fijian crop on his website, especially in the sections about Bull Sharks and Tiger Sharks.


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Ultimate Shark Toy!

Xmas is just around the corner and here comes Mattel with a wonderful new toy combining great entertainment and stellar epistemological value and quite possibly, an invaluable tool for fostering cross-cultural awareness and respect!

Ingeniously named the "Mattel Matchbox Mega Rig Mega Set 2 in 1 Adventure with Shark Ship and Squid Sub " and featuring exquisitely suggestive, premium quality artwork, it not only contains one, but two Monster chomping Sharks and even a Killer Squid! Talk about value for money!

The mission is as delightfully straightforward as it is unendingly exciting:
"You're a marine biologist scouting the deepest depths of ancient seas to find undiscovered creatures. As your man in the diving cage is attacked by a 50-foot Shark-Saurus, you know you have to act fast to save him and capture the great grey beast."
Indispensible accessories include CAPTURE GEAR! a FIRING HARPOON! a SHARK GRABBER! + SHARK MISSILE!

Thankfully, parents have been quick to recognize the awesome pedagogical virtues of this monumental innovation, as documented by this proud testimony:
"My sons current favorite toy (and here follow 5 stars out of 5)
Bought this for my 6 year old boy and it was the clear winner from all of his BD gifts. He couldn't wait to start playing with it. It has a lot of variations to toy around with and he particularly enjoys having the shark eat the captain, which is foundly (sic) named Captain "Crunch". "
Whow! How adorably witty!

My only modest suggestion for improvement would be to add a) a small sharp knife, b) two toothpicks and c) a tiny porcelain bowl.
That way, when kiddo should ever get tired of hunting, shooting, killing and grabbing the Monster Shark, the parents could even introduce him to the arcane mysteries of Asian Culture!

By chopping off the fins for a delicious soup, thus making a valuable contribution to cultural Tolerance and Respect and ultimately, World Peace!
Plus, wouldn't that dovetail -just oh so beautifully!- with Mattel's much-applauded and exemplary cultural ties to China?

Chomp chomp!

Friday, November 02, 2007

A Miracle, Culture Shock, Sex, Mayo, Midwest, Sailing and DEMA. And Jam!

First the Good News:
Manasa is making a miraculous comeback after a near-fatal Heart Seizure!

Expect Papa to be back on board shortly, where he will continue to entertain, frighten, amuse and intrigue you. As for being allowed to go back to his beloved Sharks, fingers crossed! Because that's where he belongs!

Our heartfelt thanks go to the Suva Private Hospital, Dr. Pawar and especially, Dr. Ian Linton who flew over from Oz to zap him back to life. And to all of you who were kind enough to send him your support and best wishes.
Vinaka Vakalevu, from the bottom of our hearts!

With Andrew over in Orlando for DEMA (Booth 2049 - and don't miss our brand-new spectacular edit at Gary Adkison's presentation!), the Staff are bravely manning the fort. The current Indians hail from frigid Moskow - talk about culture shock, both ways!

When I rushed over at the beginning of October, I couldn't resist hopping in to check out who was still around.
The bulls were still plentiful but kind of standoffish and immagine my surprise to discover the first tell-tale cuts on Crook (click on image) and Granma who both turned up with male escorts!
According to our database, that would be at least one month early. After last year's mild El Nino, Fiji is experiencing a mild La Nina phenomenon and the water was warmer than expected. Are we maybe witnessing an early mating season? Does that mean that they'll be back early, too?
A Xmas running of the bulls?

In any event, we're ready.
Juerg is coming for a full three months in December to conduct an array of experiments and lectures; John Earle will do a new fish count; Gary and Brenda will host several film productions and generally be their usual combination of Wisdom, Chaos, Love, Testosterone and Midwestern Heritage - as in toasted Peanut Butter- Bacon- Lettuce- Mayo- Camembert sandwich with plenty of Ketchup! And Jam!

All-in-all, plenty of opportunities for everyone to learn heaps whilst having loads of fun! And for you image hunters out there: January and February are hot, I mean HOT, with heaps of action, warm water, often calm seas, sunshine and good viz. This is when the pros flock in to get the killer shots (and inevitably succeed).
Need I say more? Drop us a line and book your dive!

And last but not least: there's a feisty newcomer!
She hasn't hand fed yet but judging from the way she's been courting Rusi, it's only a matter of time until she joins the ranks of the regulars. We've named her Topsail, for obvious reasons.

Welcome to the Club young Lady!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Excuse my French !!!!

What comes to mind when you think of the Galapagos Islands?

A glance into trusted Wikipedia reveals the following:
They are famed for their vast number of endemic species and the studies by Charles Darwin during the voyage of the Beagle that contributed to the inception of Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection."
"Though the first protective legislation for the Galápagos was enacted in 1934 and supplemented in 1936, it was not until the late 1950s that positive action was taken to control what was happening to the native flora and fauna.
In 1959, the centenary year of Charles Darwin's publication of The Origin of Species, the Ecuadorian government declared 97.5% of the archipelago's land area a national park, excepting areas already colonised.
The Charles Darwin Foundation was founded the same year, with its international headquarters in Brussels. Its primary objectives are to ensure the conservation of unique Galápagos ecosystems and promote the scientific studies necessary to fulfill its conservation functions. Conservation work began with the establishment of the Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz Island in 1964.
In 1986 the surrounding 70,000 square kilometres (43,496 sq mi.) of ocean was declared a marine reserve, second only in size to Australia's Great Barrier Reef.
In 1990 the archipelago became a whale sanctuary.
In 1978 UNESCO recognised the islands as a World Heritage Site, and in 1985 a Biosphere Reserve. This was later extended in December 2001 to include the marine reserve."

And then, there's the Diving!
Clouds of schooling Hammerheads, the resident pack of supersized Galapagos Sharks on that corner in Wolf, the funny Redlipped Batfish, friendly Black Galapagos Sea Turtles, mating giant Whale Sharks right in front of Darwin's Arch, boiling bait balls, wandering flocks of Silkies, flights of Golden Cownose Rays - pure magic!

Well, it seems, not for long anymore.
  • One year ago, in its wisdom, the all-powerful Darwin Station cancelled all of the popular two-week dive cruises, no reasons given. In brief, you can forget about any meaningful diving in Shark Heaven, Wolf and Darwin Islands.
  • Then, it doubled the quotas of the fishermen operating in the area.
  • In June of this year, UNESCO has added the Galapagos to its List of World Heritage Sites in Danger.
  • One month ago, the Darwin Station withdrew the operating license of all diving vessels except for the two biggest operators. Again, no advance warning and no reasons were given, stranding scores of pre-booked tourists and causing untold damage to the reputation of the Industry. At the same time, huge foreign cruise ships are being allowed into the Archipelago, thus increasing pressure on the ecosystem.
  • Now Rafael Correa, the President of Ecuador, in his wisdom, has repealed Decree 2130, the Law of 2004 banning the fishing, commercialization and exportation of Sharks. No reasons given of course.
In the week following that decision, more than two tons of Shark fins alone have been seized, then released back to fishermen who claimed they had caught them as bycatch.
In brief, the floodgates have been opened for the indiscriminate slaughter of Sharks in the Galapagos. Half of the 29 Shark species that frequent those waters are considered threatened.
At the same time, Correa announced that he was expelling Sea Shepherd's Local representative in Ecuador, Sean O'Hearn Gimenez, who had organized the successful seizure. That unconstitutional attempt was successfully thwarted.

What the Hell are those Morons doing?

The Darwin Station has long been the laughing stock of the Conservation community. Its Galapagos Directorship is a revolving door and its policies are only noteworthy for their arrogance, incompetence and inefficiency. Millions in Park entrance fees are being squandered in its bureaucracy and their recent track record, as shown above, is abysmal. Need there be more warning than the move by UNESCO in June?
When will the Board finally stop this pathetic travesty?

As to Correa, what can I say.
Everybody knows that the Shark Fin trade is a Mafia money laundering operation mounted by the Chinese Triads. Big money, and plenty enough to buy the President of an impoverished thirld world country. And, it's election time.

Several organizations, among them Sea Shepherds, The National Geographic Society, Peter Hughes Diving (, my friend Dom of DiveAdvice ( and Wild Aid through its local representative Oswaldo Rosero ( are organizing public letter campaigns addressed to Correa, requesting him to reverse his decision.
Please, if you care, write such a letter and show this blog to your friends.

One request for support I received included the following piece of advice:
"Ecuador is a sovereign nation, and most of us are not citizens of Ecuador, so please be cordial in requesting President Correa's help."

Yeah - right!!!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


Coral Reefs Vanishing Faster Than Rain Forests

Helen Scales
August 7, 2007

Coral reefs in the Indian and Pacific Oceans are dying off much quicker than previously thought, a new study shows.

For the last two decades, Indo-Pacific reefs have shrunk by 20 percent —a loss equivalent to nearly 600 square miles (1,553 square kilometers). That makes the rate of reef loss about twice the rate of tropical rain forest loss.
The research also revealed that the decline began in the late 1960s—much earlier than had been assumed.

"Twenty or 30 years ago reefs with a high cover of coral were fairly common," said study co-author Elizabeth Selig, a marine ecologist from the University of North Carolina.
"Today there are comparatively few reefs in the Indo-Pacific that we would traditionally think of as being pristine."

A most welcome newcomer.

It's many divers dreams to be able to witness up close and personal one of the ocean's top predators and it does not get much bigger or better than a tiger shark encounter.

We are fortunate that we get to dive with these majestic animals on a regular basis but even we still get excited when a tiger shark turns up on one of the dives at Shark Reef. However, there's no greater feeling than the post dive high of diving with a brand new shark, no matter the species.

In June, we were blessed to have an encounter with a new, small tiger shark about 9ft in length. Well, good news, it seems that she has decided to make the local waters her home for a little while.

'Brat', as she has been affectionately named, returned again in July for another visit during our first ever Shark Studies trip with Academic Treks. On this encounter she cruised around Shark Reef for about 20mins and everybody managed to get a really good look at her. One of the participants, Simon Rivard, managed to capture some cracking images of Brat; congratulations Simon.

We hope this is not Brat's last visit to us and there are many more to come.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Scarface Superstar!

Ever watch E! Channel?
I've always compared the Hollywood menagerie to our own eclectic collection of friendly rogues and when it comes to Stardom and outright Attitude, no-one compares to the biggest and BADdest of them all, our utility car-size tiger lady Scarface!
Mind you, she's just a poser and quite literally, all mouth and really nothing but a mellow pussy - but hey, size does matter down there and our clients love her to death!

Whenever we roll out the red carpet, there she comes to pose for the VIPs: be it Ron and Val, Howard and Michelle, Stan, the two Michaels, Doug, Mark, Klaus, Gary, Juerg and most recently, the incredibly lucky Lawrence and his bunch of Shark aficionados, Scarface never fails to amaze and entertain our illustrious guests.

It was only a question of time when those images would make the transition from YouTube and Flickr to the A-Class - but still, what a treat to find her looking at me, cavernous maw and all, from Wikipedia's Tiger Shark page!
My heartfelt thanks, and compliments, to crafty photographer pterantula whose Fiji Gallery is as good as it gets! And it has not been lost on me that always sassy Crook has made it up there as well!
Vinaka vakalevu Terry!

Our Rusi has always been Scarface's biggest fan and it had always been clear to us that those two had something special going.
One day, he decided that it was time to put the relationship to the ultimate test, fortunately for me just as I happened to hover only inches away with my trusted 110 degree Gates SWP25, camera running!
Was it a reckless piece of showmanship? Certainly, and never to be repeated again!
Was it awesome, tender and did it once and for all demonstrate Rusi's skills and love of Sharks? Without a doubt!

Anyway, here's two JPGs directly off that footage. I haven't changed or cropped anything, except for downsizing the files to avoid any undue temptation.


Friday, July 20, 2007

Highly recommended Reading!

Have you already done The Shark Dive with us?

If so, you might have noticed that we don't talk much about the global plight of Sharks and the desperate need to protect them.

We believe that actions speak louder than words and having successfully established the Shark Reef Marine Reserve and more recently, the Fiji Shark Corridor, we leave it to our clients to make up their own mind about the subject.
Many of our customers are quite apprehensive before taking the plunge, but once we see the total awe and exhilaration when they surface again, we just know that we've managed to create yet another batch of believers.
They've just experienced first hand that Bull Sharks are quite shy and Tigers, way cool, and that's what they'll go and tell their friends, along with showing them a trophy DVD documenting their braveness.

Out there, other people are desperately trying to counter the slaughter of Sharks by addressing the public via the media.

Sharks always seem to inflame strong emotions and the Shark conservation community at large seems to be no exception. Among them, you will find a large group of fabulous researchers with strong views and equally strong personalities, well meaning and well-funded but hopelessly idealistic NGOs, fake "research institutes" which are all about tourism dollars and zero about research, hoards of carpetbagging PhD students and of course the usual plethora of groupies, wannabees and self-declared experts.
All of that constitutes a highly explosive mix resulting in frequent vocal and public infighting, deplorable fragmentation of resources and squandering of energies.

Ever since airing the infamous "Anatomy of a Shark Bite" episode featuring a self-appointed Shark "guru" and charlatan, Discovery Channel's venerable Shark Weeks have found themselves smack in the middle of that controversy.
Discovery dishes out quite a bit of money to the Shark community and in view of the potential loss of income, most of the criticism so far has been limited to more or less surreptitious moaning and sniping.
Finally, a group of concerned and I believe, well-intentioned Shark people have mustered the courage to openly publish a letter addressing those grievances.

We applaud their initiative and hope that it will lead to open and fruitful dialogue, for the benefit of the Discovery Channel and Shark Conservation alike!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Coping with Global Warming

Australian researchers have shown how some reef-building corals might protect themselves against the double threat of Global Warming and ozone depletion.

Coral geneticists from the Australian Institute of Marine Science have found that many corals store several types of algae, which can improve their capacity to cope with warmer water.

"This work shatters the popular view that only a small percentage of corals have the potential to respond to warmer conditions by shuffling live-in algal partners," institute marine scientist Madeleine van Oppen said."Simply, when conditions warm the more heat-tolerant algae provide back-up, become more abundant. Some algal types impart greater resistance to environmental extremes."


Key species of coral can cross-breed, Australian research has found, fueling hope that coral reefs will be able to cope with climatic and environmental change.

The study of the Great Barrier Reef off northeastern Australia, by a team led by geneticist Dr Madeleine van Oppen, from the Australian Institute of Marine Science, has found evidence of cross-breeding in the major Acropora genus of coral.

Van Oppen said this week the new information indicates that coral species can develop a greater diversity of DNA that in turn should help them adapt to environmental changes that are threatening reefs worldwide.

The discovery also challenges the long-held belief that cross-breeding, or hybridisation, is mainly significant in the evolution of plants and not animals. Van Oppen said it has been difficult convincing the scientific community that corals do have the ability to cross-fertilise in nature.


Publishing in this week's issue of Nature, Dr Anya Salih and colleagues at the University of Sydney have found that certain varieties of corals use fluorescence to take the sting out of intense UV light, which otherwise acts together with warmer water temperatures to cause coral bleaching.
It had been observed for some time that corals fluoresced green when blue light was shone on them - but no one knew why.
"Our results show that in well-lit environments these fluorescent pigments act as 'sunscreens', protecting coral symbionts from photoinhibition by transforming excess light to wavelengths which are not absorbed by the algae and therefore will not damage them," say the researchers.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Getting there...... but still a lot to do !!!

Want to learn holding your breath for minutes at a time?
Look no further than omniscient and dashing Stuart Gow of Resort Support !!!
All you need is a) Stuart b) a towel and c) a suitable venue (read: BAR) and you're in for the -chilling- experience of a lifetime!


Anyway, Stuart has just shot me an e-mail about Sea Shepherd's very latest sting and despite my reservations about Capt. Watson's assertive Conservation techniques, here's to an outstanding job in protecting the Sharks of the Eastern Pacific!

Closer to home, things are still in dire need of improvement.
According to the website of, of all places, the Environmental and Agricultural Information Center of the United Arab Emirates:
"Many of the Taiwanese, Hong Kong, Chinese and Korean vessels intrude into Fijian waters for shark fishing. These vessels bring in quite a lot of shark fins to Fiji island from where they are re-exported to Chinese and Hong Kong markets. The Fiji market is bustling with hectic business deals since a profit margin of about 80% is reported in some of these transactions."

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Very Cool Stuff!

I'm always on the lookout for some new stuff about Sharks and just happened to stumble across the awesome website of the ReefQuest Centre for Shark Research.
I must say, very impressive. Well done guys!
As you say, it's work in progress -and always will be- but what you've assembled so far is as good as it gets!
Being a closet Taxonomist, I'm particularly interested in this Checklist of Living Species (did you know that there's two Mako Sharks and three Sandtigers...?) and particularly, the page dealing with our group, the Whalers.
But the List of Topics is way longer than that and I'm sure that everybody will find something fascinating and above all, informative!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Dr. Juerg Brunnschweiler !

Remember last November's post about our intrepid shark man Juerg from, of all places, frigid land-locked and mountainous Switzerland?

Well, he ain't no student no more!

Having delivered a whopping thesis about several aspects of Shark Biology, many of which have been researched on Shark Reef and my new home base in Tonga, he has brillianty survived a thorough cross-examination and now sports a fanciful Doctorate title!
And an own fancy website!

Along with having invented such useful linguistic weapons as the formal and informal "you", we Central Europeans are quite particular about such things and I already dread our next meeting in December! Will we all be clobbered into subservient adulation?

Juerg has just informed us that he plans to spend the prime Bull Shark season, January to March on Shark Reef. Planned experiments include wrapping up the ongoing small-scale movement study along with researching the Bull Shark mating grounds, general ethograms, dominance studies, food preferences and analyzing our huge data base. We're obviously eager to help and will piggyback by offering Shark Weeks, Shark Biology Courses and possibly, even Volunteer Research Assistance Programs.
There will be plenty of attractive options, so watch this space or drop us a line, whether you plan to come for a single day or for a longer stay!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

BAD Publicity!

BAD has just completed some major overhauling and is coming out of the traditional "low" season brighter and shinier than ever!
We've replaced Predators 3-year old engines, we've purchased brand new dive gear for our staff and guests, we've added one more mooring to Shark Reef and overwhelming client demand is pushing us to finally put online Hunter, Predator's posh sister vessel. And we haven't finished quite yet, watch this space for some more cool innovations!
Hunter will be utilized primarily for our ever popular 3-tank wreck and coral dives in Beqa Lagoon, for teaching and also for patrolling the newly established Fiji Shark Corridor (see previous post).
To complement it all, we've re-vamped our local marketing with a brand new brochure and a cool poster featuring some of the fantastic artwork by our friends Michael Aw, Doug Perrine and Michael Patrick O'Neill. We like the poster so much that we've added it to our boutique inventory. If you would like a copy, contact the dive shop or download a lower-res version by clicking on the picture above.

The increased teaching activity and the marketing push are the brainchild of our newest BAD boy, Petero Niurou, a veteran diver, PADI instructor, dive shop manager, television presenter and accomplished entertainer and storyteller. Welcome aboard Pedro!
So, what are you waiting for - drop us a line and join us for the experience of a lifetime!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Very Special Visitors.

Whether you are a professional in the diving industry, a hardcore dive every week kind of diver or a vacation diver; the world of scuba allows us to meet all sorts of people. We at Beqa Adventure Divers are fortunate to be able to dive with some of the icons in the world of sharks and last week was no exception.

To our delight, we were privileged to play host to Stan Waterman, Nancy McGhee and their friend John Crossley. Thankfully Stan managed to fit in a whistlestop visit to us in between charters on the Nai'a and Bilikiki.

The last time Stan paid us a visit we were fortunate to get to dive with all 8 species of shark in Shark Reef Marine Reserve. The sharks must have remembered as Dive Day #1 culminated with a visit by not 1, but 2 tiger sharks. Scarface, the largest of the tigers we see was joined by a smaller individual who we have never before observed. The newcomer was much smaller than Scarface coming in at about 10ft in length.

Dive Day #2 and the heat was on to try and match the previous day's diving. Things did not look good when it was revealed that the bringer of bad luck, Andrew, was going to be aboard for the trip... turns out his luck must have changed as again, we had all 8 species of shark. There was a solitary silvertip, 3 sicklefin lemons, tawny nurses, grey reefs, whitetip reefs, blacktip reefs, over 20 bull sharks and another tiger shark. This time it was Adi, our little princess, who decided to put on a show for Stan, Nancy & John.

So, 2 days of diving, 8 species of sharks, lots of stories being shared and it was time to say farewell once more. Safe travels to Stan, Nancy & John and we wish you a safe and exciting trip aboard Bilikiki.

Until next time, from the team here at BAD, a big vinaka vakalevu.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

More protection for our Sharks!

Ever since having established the Shark Reef Marine Reserve in 2004, we have been striving to further expand the protected area. As the data provided from our satellite and radio tagging experiments tell us, the Bull sharks and Tiger sharks tend to roam a much larger territory in this region.

The southern coast of Viti Levu adjacent to Shark Reef comprises the Qoliqoli, or fishing grounds, of the Villages of Galoa, Wainyiabia and Deuba.

After more than one year of sometimes difficult negotiations, we have finally succeeded in signing an Agreement with the relevant Chiefs and Mataqali representatives of Deuba Village stipulating that any catching or otherwise harming of Sharks within the entire Qoliqoli of Deuba Village is henceforth banned.

Galoa and Wainyiabia Villages, our partners in the Shark Reef Marine Reserve, have since joined in by also declaring their own entire Qoliqoli to be banned for Shark fishing.

To compensate for any losses in income, Deuba Village will be entitled to a share of the Marine Park Levy collected on Shark Reef, for which the Swiss Shark Foundation is very kindly providing a minimum income guarantee.
To that effect, the Marine Park Levy on Shark Reef has been increased to $20.

In April 2007, the Fiji Department of Fisheries has sanctioned all relevant Agreements, making them legally binding and thus enforceable.

The protected area, which has been named the Fiji Shark Corridor, comprises approx. 30 miles of coastline and thus hugely expands on the original Shark Reef area. In fact, when you visit Shark Reef, the entire coast as far as you can see in either direction is now protected!

Our special thanks go to
  • the Villages of Galoa, Wainiyabia and Deuba for their kind assistance in making the above possible
  • Manasa Bulivou, our spokesperson, for his tireless Village diplomacy
  • Gary Adkison and Dr. Alexander Goldknecht, of the Swiss Shark Foundation, for their unwavering moral and financial support
  • Dr. Juerg Brunnschweiler, for collecting the relevant scientific data
  • Aisake Batibasaga, Principal Research Officer and Acting CEO, Fiji Department of Fisheries, for his assistance and guidance

Rusi lending a helping hand!

It's not uncommon on The Shark Dive to witness several sharks trailing long lengths of fishing tackle from their mouths. It's very hard to tell whether it is from sport fishing boats, local fishermen or the dreaded longliners; no matter where the hooks originate from though it always means pain and discomfort for the animals.

One of the tiger sharks that we observe, Adi (Princess), showed up 3 weeks ago with one such fish hook lodged in the corner of her mouth. Unfortunately there was not much line for us to work with, a mere 18" extended from her mouth and the hook was clearly visible.

Rusi, one of the shark feeders, took it upon himself to help Adi and remove the fish hook. Adi, at 13ft, is not the largest of tiger sharks but she is still one very large fish. She will approach cautiously at first, checking everything and everyone out ensureing that there is no treat to her; once confident that all is safe Adi will then make close passes of the feeders and take the bait offered up to her.
On one such pass, there was no bait on offer, instead Rusi reached out and plucked the fish hook from the corner of Adi's mouth. Surprisingly she did not flinch ot show any signs of discmfort upon removal of the hook. On subsequent passes Rusi then held up the hook to Adi so she could see what it was that was lodged in her mouth.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Mass Extinction?

"Human beings are currently causing the greatest mass extinction of species since the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. If present trends continue one half of all species of life on earth will be extinct in less than 100 years, as a result of habitat destruction, pollution, invasive species, and climate change."

Did you know that:

• If current trends continue, one half of all species of life on Earth will be extinct in 100 years. (E.O. Wilson, The Future of Life, p. 102)

• One quarter of all mammal species face extinction in 30 years. (United Nations,

• For every person in the world to reach present U.S. levels of consumption we would need 4 more planet Earths. (Wilson, p. 23)

• Humans currently consume 50% of the Earth's available freshwater, leaving what's left over for all other species. (World Wildlife Fund,

• Humans currently consume 40% of all organic matter produced by photosynthesis on Earth, leaving what's left over for all other species. (Wilson, p. 33)

• Every species of great ape on the Earth (gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees, and bonobos) is in imminent danger of extiction. (United Nations,

• Every species of tiger on Earth is in imminent danger of extinction. (World Wildlife Fund,

• The number of lions left in Africa has fallen 90% in 20 years -- there are now only 20,000 remaining. (BBC,

• 90 percent of all large fishes have disappeared from the world's oceans in the past half century. (Nature Magazine,

• Human population is expected to increase by at least 50% over the next 75 years. (United Nations Population Division,


And what about Sharks?

"By 2017 it is anticipated that 20 species of shark could become extinct due to hunting, indiscriminate fishing techniques and, ultimately, man's greed."


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

So what if we kill them all?

Cascading Effects of the Loss of Apex Predatory Sharks from a Coastal Ocean

Ransom A. Myers, Julia K. Baum, Travis D. Shepherd, Sean P. Powers, Charles H. Peterson

Impacts of chronic overfishing are evident in population depletions worldwide, yet indirect ecosystem effects induced by predator removal from oceanic food webs remain unpredictable.
As abundances of all 11 great sharks that consume other elasmobranchs (rays, skates, and small sharks) fell over the past 35 years, 12 of 14 of these prey species increased in coastal northwest Atlantic ecosystems.
Effects of this community restructuring have cascaded downward from the cownose ray, whose enhanced predation on its bay scallop prey was sufficient to terminate a century-long scallop fishery.
Analogous top-down effects may be a predictable consequence of eliminating entire functional groups of predators.
Science 30 March 2007

This is the newest and probably, also the most compelling study about the consequences of Shark overfishing. You can download the full document from the link above and we're also shortly going to post it on our website.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Bad News

"The world's oceans are a shadow of what they once were.
With a few notable exceptions, such as well-managed fisheries in Alaska, Iceland, and New Zealand, the number of fish swimming the seas is a fraction of what it was a century ago. Marine biologists differ on the extent of the decline. Some argue that stocks of many large oceangoing fish have fallen by 80 to 90 percent, while others say the declines have been less steep. But all agree that, in most places, too many boats are chasing too few fish."
From a chilling report by National Geographic.

Got some great pics and video?

Maybe as good as this one by Doug Perrine?
(Incidentally, that was right before Scarface took that nibble at the end of the infamous naughty file! Check out the pic and you'll see how she's already starting to bend back the monitor! )

Give it your best shot (and I mean that literally) and join the "Under the Blue 2007" International Underwater Photo and Video Competition!
We're one of the main sponsors and you might end up getting some more great price-winning shots on The Shark Dive.

But hurry up, submissions close on May 12.

Best of luck and hopefully, see you soon!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Crazy Stuff !

All of you out there who still think that we're crazy, check out this !!!
I cite: "faut vraiment etre debile, le jour ou il tombera sur un requin moins stone on va bien se marrer" - but who am I to say (-:


Monday, April 02, 2007

New Beachfront Resort Opens its Doors.

As with a lot of things in Fiji, it took a little longer than initially expected; however it was well worth the wait. Opening its doors in February, The Uprising Beach Resort offers beachfront accommodations with unparalleled views over to Beqa Island.

Uprising Resort has 12 traditional bures available, 6 beachfront and 6 garden all set amongst some beautiful tropical foliage. The swimming pool is encircled by an expansive deck that leads to the bar and restaurant and is a short hop, skip & jump from the clear waters of Beqa Lagoon.

So if you're coming to Pacific Harbour, why not take a look at The Uprising as one of your options?

Friday, March 30, 2007

Amazing video by our clients - and a surprise!

Lots and lots of rain this March, and quite a few cyclone warnings: perfect weather for chilling out at home, do some editing and surf the web!

I've always wondered what our camera-toting clients manage to put together after their short visits with us and all I can say is: amazing stuff!
Here's a good example from a lucky 1-day dive on Shark Reef, and here, a nice slideshow/video combo. What really did blow me away however was this production featuring double tiger sharks: fantastic, bravo!!!

And, then a huge surprise: there's even a re-edited version of my very own naughty file!!!

I was kinda speechless but then again, an audience of next to 23,000 is way cool, too.... though I like my original music much better and the aspect ratio is off, meaning that in reality, the Sharks are NOT that fat! 
Having identified and talked to the culprit, we've both decided to leave it there.


Monday, March 26, 2007

The Original Crocodile Man comes to Fiji

The team at Beqa Adventure Divers were proud to play host to the "Original Crocodile Man", David Ireland and his cameraman Mark for 2 weeks in early March.

David & Mark were visiting to shoot a documentary about the legendary Shark God, 'Dakuwaqa' for their latest series, The Wildlife Man. In Fijian folklore, the people of Beqa are protected from shark attacks and in exchange they will not harm, kill or eat sharks.

All of Pacific Harbour welcomed David & Mark, with Uprising Beach Resort kindly hosting them for the 2 weeks, Arts Village took them for a tour of the cultural centre and Beqa Adventure Divers took them diving.

Keep an eye out for the finished product airing on Discovery HD and Channel 9 Australia later in the year.

Long-term Decline in Shark Attack Numbers.

UF study: World shark attacks rise slightly but continue long-term dip.

Shark attacks edged up slightly in 2006 but continued an overall long-term decline as overfishing and more cautious swimmers helped take a bite out of the aggressive encounters, new University of Florida research finds.

The total number of shark attacks worldwide increased from 61 in 2005 to 62 in 2006 and the number of fatalities remained stable at four, far below the 79 attacks and 11 fatalities recorded in 2000, said George Burgess, director of the International Shark Attack File housed at UF's Florida Museum of Natural History.

“This was a nice dull year and we love dull years because it means there are fewer serious attacks and fewer victims,” Burgess said. “It’s really quite remarkable when you have only four people a year die in the mouth of a shark and puts in perspective how small shark attack is as a phenomenon.”

Good News for Mexican Sharks.

Mexico Passes Shark Finning Ban. New Protections for Great White, Whale and Basking Sharks, Manta Rays.

In a surprising move, the Mexican government has recently published sweeping new regulations and protections for sharks, including a shark finning ban, an extension of the moratorium on new commercial shark fishing permits, and extensive protections for great white sharks, whale sharks, basking sharks and manta rays.

“Mexico has taken a real leadership position here” says Patric Douglas CEO of Shark Diver a shark cage diving company based in San Diego. “The rest of Latin America is watching what Mexico does with great interest now, this is good news indeed.”

Friday, February 16, 2007

We are not Aquatrek

We were recently copied on a press release by our local competitor, Aquatrek Beqa.

In that remarkable piece, they eloquently claim to have set up a Marine Park, to have trained "fish wardens" patrol it, to have established a scientific data base about their dive and to conduct scientific research there.

Sound familiar?

To top it off, they claim that we've been the victims of an accident.

The truth is: not a single one of those assertions is true!

In terms of conservation and science, Aquatrek have nothing to show for. And now, they are obviously trying to take credit for our own achievements, and to slander us in the process.

For too long, we have sat back and allowed those lies to remain unchallenged.
Now is the time to set the record straight.

For a passionate in-depth analysis of Aquatrek's press release, please click here

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Beqa Adventure Divers scoop diving award.

2006 AON Fiji Excellence in Tourism Awards

On Friday the 8th February, the who's who in the Fiji tourism world gathered at the Sofitel Resort on Denarau Island for the 2006 AON Fiji Excellence in Tourism Awards Gala Dinner.

The Fiji Police Band welcomed the crowd with a mix of music, ranging from traditional Fijian tunes to the Macarena; most bizarre though highly entertaining.

The 2006 AON Fiji Excellence in Tourism Award winners were announced throughout the evening and Beqa Adventure Divers were honoured to be the recipients of the Diving Award for their services to the diving and tourism industry in Fiji.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

MV Predator Survey

The requirements to operate commercial vessels in the Fiji Islands are very demanding. There are various licenses required, one of which is a survey license. The Fiji Islands Maritime Safety Authority (FIMSA) require commercial vessels to undergo surveys every 6 months, with the annual survey requiring the boat to be aslip for hull inspections.

December 2006 brought about annual survey time for our main dive boat, MV Predator. Having the boat aslip means we can really get a good look at the hull and give her a good scrub from top to bottom. We've opted to not use any antifouling paint on the hull of Predator, prefering to scrub her clean on a regular basis. Both engines underwent a full overhaul under the watchful of eye of David, our technician.

After spending a day working on her, it was survey time. The FIMSA representative inspected the integrity of the hull before boarding Predator. The safety of passengers onboard are top priority, so items like life preservers, fire extinguishers, EPIRBs, life rafts are all checked to be in working condition.

With the safety equipment all ticked off, it's now time for the sea trial and down into the water we go. With the surveyor onboard, we cruise the Qaraniqio River back to our base at Lagoon Resort while he checks that both engines are in tip-top shape.

No matter where you go diving in Fiji, if you're in any doubt as to the boat's safety, be sure to ask to see the licenses that are required to be available onboard. Survey License, Safe manning Certificate, Coastal Trading License and of course the Captain's License.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year!!

With Fiji's position right on the International Date Line, we were some of the first people to welcome in 2007. There were all sorts of parties going on, the street party in Suva, beach parties in Pacific Harbour and then the big blow-outs at the Tiki Bar/Arts Village and The Pearl South Pacific.

The heavens were smiling on us and we were blessed with some fine weather throughout the day and into the night. The dive team couldn't party too hard though, we had a trip running on the 1st January and wow, what a way to start off '07.
Beautiful blue skies and 30m visibility greeted us at daybreak. Waiting for the bull sharks to return can be nerve-racking; wondering which day will be the day. Well, January 1st, 2007 was the day and over 15 different individuals graced us with their presence for over 45 minutes. Many of the females bore wounds from their mating season, it's truly remarkable how these wounds will be completely healed and invisible in a matter of weeks. We're looking forward to some great shark diving in the months ahead!!