Fiji Day 4

Diving, Tuesday, 12 June 2012

This morning went on a drift dive.  Was on the small boat, one of five divers, and had 1000 lbs left when everyone else had gone up, so got the dive master to myself for an extra 15 minutes.

I did much better with 8 lbs on the weight belt and 6 lbs in the BCD pockets, the extra 2 lbs to compensate for the strong currents here.  (For those non-divers, the BCD – buoyancy control device – aka BC – buoyancy compensator – is an inflatable vest, which holds the scuba tank and connects to the regulator that the diver breathes from.  Let air out of the BC when you want to sink; let air in when you want to rise.)

Flooded my mask at the start of the second dive, but dealt with it with only a short panic.  Followed right behind the dive master rather than having a dive partner.  Gorgeous school of almost iridescent fusiliers, blue body and yellow fins.  (This photo from the internet, but the school was this large!)

Sea cucumber (notice the black tentacles), pretty flatworm that dive master picked up and allowed to swim back to its rock.  An octopus which looked white in a hole (all you can see is the eye here); when the dive master nudged it out, it instantaneously turned black and shot out.

A few miniature Christmas tree worms.  (Click the photo for a closeup.)  A couple of black-tipped sharks, one asleep under a coral shelf, well-protected.    I thought the turtle weed (aka maiden’s hair algae) very pretty, but found out that:

Chlorodesmis looks as innocuous as maiden’s hair, its common name, but it’s a coral-killer.

Schools of small fish congregated on the tops of the reefs, orange anthias and purple blackcap gramma basslets.

Lots of tiny bright yellow sponges, unchanged for 450 million years!  (This is the second photo from the internet; all of the others are C’s.)

A school of about a dozen barracudas.  (Because they were at a distance you can see how roiled the water was.)  Bright blue ribbon eel.

Ruka/Raviravi Primary School, Beqa/Yanuca Secondary School

In the afternoon we went to the island school, in the light rain, to hear the children sing for us. The water was so shallow, our boat had to moor far out, we took small boats in, and waded the last bit.

Because it is the only school on the island (the high school kids go to school off-island) the children have to board there Monday through Friday.  All wear uniforms, with sarongs for the boys too.  The soccer field was pretty flat, but the rest of the grassy playground was riddled with good-sized holes made by land crabs.

The elementary kids sang in English.  (Everyone had a photo of this girl, she was so adorable.)

Next the secondary kids sang outside, in Fijian, with boys at the front to do the hand motions.

Kids then crowded around us to have their pictures taken, just to see the photo on the LCD screen.  I’m going to collect printed photos of the kids to send back to the school (as I had sent photos of kids in Jerusalen, Peru back to them.  They are proudly displayed in their houses.)  All of the photos above water are mine.

We left as the sun was going down.

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2 Responses to “Fiji Day 4”

  1. Jim Says:

    I much enjoy seeing the photos the reef life and fishes, and the Melanesian kids.
    Do the Melanesians now speak English as a second language?
    Do the Melanesians outnumber the Malays? Are all of the businesses owned by the Malays?

    • notesfromthewest Says:

      Funny, hadn’t realized that Fiji was part of Melanesia. Had to look it up. Yes, they all speak English as a second language. But there are no Malays here. (Met a lot of them when I worked in Malaysia.) Found this in Wikipedia:
      The population of Fiji is mostly made up of native Fijians, who are Melanesians (54%), although many also have Polynesian ancestry, and Indo-Fijians (38%), descendants of Indian contract labourers brought to the islands by the British colonial powers in the 19th century.
      This additional information from
      The Senoi are an ancient group in Malaysia dating back about 4,000-8,000 years…It is thought that the Senoi came down from Southern China and bred in heavily with the Negrito Semang in Malaysia…Malay Negritos (the Semang) were given a separate race based on a recent study finding them highly differentiated from other Asian populations…The Semang go back an incredible 50,000 years in Malaysia…The Jehai and Kensui are related Negrito groups in Malaysia.

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