Fiji Days 7-8

Diving Friday, 15 June 2012

Today’s best quote: J said “It’s a good thing I’ve been practicing my napping.”  Hour-long boat ride on very choppy seas to Frigate’s Passage, which, according to the internet, is best known for its surfing.   I had read that out toward Frigate Pass you can see mantas, eagle rays.  But I also found this description:

Frigates Passage: What we consider to be one of the best dive sites.  A boat ride takes you to the remote location of Frigates Passage. The coral cover and health of the wall at Frigates is second to none. Giant gorgonian fans and ancient black coral bushes offer shelter to hundreds of fish species. Subject to some pretty exciting currents, this is a dive for experienced divers.  This dive thrills the senses with the contrast of dark blue ocean against white sandy bottom, rock formations scattered with hard and soft coral, canyons and cuts to explore.  Reef sharks, turtles, barracuda and jacks.

It was way too rough to dive there.  So we went to the second choice.  (Described here.)

Fantasea: An aptly named site – the most stunning display of soft corals and anemones completely cover this stunning pinnacle. Truly a fantasy of colors and textures, and a myriad of fish species.

Three Nuns: Three massive coral bommies, all neatly aligned, covered in a wealth of colorful soft and hard corals. Home to thousands of reef fish and the occasional stingray, variety of sea cucumbers (don’t laugh, they can be cool too!)

Just started at the bottom (60’) and wound our way up to the top of a pinnacle.  The top was the best – flat with pretty coral and hundreds of fish, not schools (except for the tiny 1” white ones with black fins and a vertical black stripe at their gills, reticulated damselfish, sprinkled on the top of a white table coral one foot in diameter – this photo from the internet).  All floating with the heavy surge, back and forth, maybe four feet each direction.  This short clip gives you an idea of how colorful the soft coral was and how many fish there were:

Unfortunately, lots of sand in the water, visibility very low.  I stayed right behind our dive master, K, and she pointed out the beautiful purple sea anemone (C got a photo of a red one, mostly closed, large fans – could that be a sponge on it?), on the way up.

I tried to memorize fish colors and markings, but way too much diversity for my memory.  C got a few great shots such as this three-spot angelfish, yellow with blue lips!  And this white spotted grouper as well as the juvenile axilspot hogfish with large polka dots.

All of the starfishes I saw were blue (this photo from the internet), but C got a photo of this comet sea star (Linckia multifora Sea Star) that had grown another leg.  I hadn’t known this before:

Starfish are well known for their powers of regeneration. A complete new animal can grow from a small fragment such as an arm. In some species (Linckia multifora) one of the arms will virtually pull itself away, regenerate and form a new animal. Autotomy (self amputation) usually is a protective function, losing the body part to escape a predator rather than being eaten. But here it serves as a form of asexual reproduction.

Sketched a few fish and corals in my book, then looked them up.  These photos all from the internet: soldierfishes, a copperband butterfly fish, a bicolor blenny.  Blennies have the cutest faces, and they rest on their front fins.

The sun came out (!) and it stopped raining.  Maybe today is the start of the dry season.  Maybe now our towels, bathing suits and dive skins will dry out and lose that musty been-wet-for-days smell.  (The dive towel I’d been given this morning was not much drier than the one that I turned in.)

Was so worn out from fighting the surge this morning that I fell asleep sitting up on the boat ride back, and took a two-hour nap after our late (3pm) lunch.  Insect bites on both elbows so I guess the bugs are out now that it stopped raining.  Sprayed on Deet after the fact.

Fijian Night

Tonight was Fijian night.  Food cooked in the lovo – a hole in the ground, under cover.  First rocks heated over the fire.  Then the wood that hadn’t burned taken out and banana leaf stems piled over the rocks for steam.

Next aluminum foil (a new addition to the tradition) packets of corn beef, chicken, pork, taro roots (which the Hawaiians make poi from) wrapped in banana leafs.  A layer of banana leaves for more steam, then woven plastic sheets (also a new addition) and dirt.

I had gone down to dinner early for a glass of wine and socializing.  Didn’t need the wine.  They had a kava ceremony as the village had, but here they explained it all.  One clap to receive something (bowl of kava), three clasp afterwards to give back more.  (The photos of the lovo and these of the kava ceremony taken by C.)

Then the Band Boys playing their guitars (wonder what instrument was the traditional one) and singing in Fijian.  Somewhat Hawaiian but with a bit of a country western twang.  And dancing.  One of our guys got very into the drinking and dancing (although his was not the two-step), much to the amusement of the Fijian women.

Had coconut, sliced from the shell, with the kava – men served first, then women (to whom they doled out half portions).

Buffet dinner with a ceviche soup made with fish ceviche and coconut milk – lots of lime juice and delicious, the cooked animals, potato salad, and a salad of shredded coconut with lime – good.  Desert a marvelous chocolate trifle.  (My brother said I spent too much time describing meals, but just for Fijian night?  I left out the others.)

9:15 Way too late to be up (even with a two-hour nap).  My body was still swaying to the ocean surge.  Good night.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Sitting out a diving day as my ears are clogged.

Haven’t seen too many birds.  A mynah lives in the eaves of the dining room.  (Helping itself to our breakfast in photo).  Saw a white-collared kingfisher on a rock at low tide.  Some herons too.

Reading my second book, Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones.

Party before dinner in the honeymoon suite.  More like what I had at Dive Taveuni, but with an outdoor jacuzzi and outdoor bed to boot.  Plus a TV  (no other room has a TV) and DVDs from the office.  (N, a few years older than me and looking as prim as a schoolmarm, asked if they had Debbie does Dallas.)

Then another Fiji party, also before dinner.  More kava, singing with hand motions, dancing.  Pretty much only three of our group got into the heavy kava drinking.  The dive people dressed up in Fijian garb and danced,  then joined us for dinner.

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5 Responses to “Fiji Days 7-8”

  1. Jim Says:

    Having gotten there, are not tempted to stay a few months, a some nice inexpensive hostel? You could explore the island, and return with far greater wealth of experience.

  2. Jim Says:

    If I lived alone, I would rent out a room to a bright young science student, in exhange for a few chores and taking care of the place during trips.

  3. Jim Says:

    Evidently, the mynah and the kingfisher, like the human, have a world-wide tropical and subtropical distribution. Fiji is famously rich in bird life, but not nearly as rich as the Amazon.

    • notesfromthewest Says:

      The Mynah,A Study in Adaptation
      One of the most interesting and, at the same time, abundant birds found in Fiji is the common or Indian Mynah. This bird is a native throughout the entire Indian region and has been introduced into various parts of the world; the Hawaiian Islands, New Zealand and Fiji included, in all of which it breeds and
      thrives to an amazing degree.
      The Mynah was introduced into Fiji several years ago in an attempt to control noxious insects. However, the results have been somewhat disappointing for it has not done the good which had been hoped for. …the Mynah now is considered a pest.

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