The Fijian archipelago lies scattered lazily in the achingly blue waters of the Pacific Ocean, bathed in the radiant antipodean sunlight. Its towns and villages are veritable melting pots of cultural influences.
Fiji's irresistible shores are fringed with picture-perfect palm trees, and the azure waters that surround the islands are inhabited by an astonishing array of marine creatures; over 1,200 species of fish including clownfish, triggerfish, blue tangs, 10 species of shark, 12 species of whales, dolphins, turtles, anemones, soft coral and much more.
Enjoy fragrant sun drenched days and warm nights of delectable food cooked in a traditional underground oven. Fiji will enchant you with its infectious, chilled out "Fiji time" lifestyle, its heavenly beaches and surrounding mountains of rainforest– the perfect paradise location for your Frontier adventure!
This project is ideal for anyone with an interest in these endangered and misunderstood animals. Join us on our Fiji Shark Project, helping to determine the diversity and behaviour of these iconic, yet endangered species. Work with us on assessing the factors that are putting these species under threat, from overfishing, to pollution and habitat destruction. Working alongside internationally renowned experts in shark conservation and marine biology, help us capture and tag baby scalloped hammerhead sharks, one of the most endangered of the shark species, in a local shark nursery site. The aim of this project is to increase understanding of their population dynamics and behaviour, both locally and internationally, to strengthen local and international protections for these species and to raise awareness among the local community regarding the importance of sharks.
WHAT DOES THE PROJECT DO?
Sharks are critical to the functioning of our ecosystems, regulating the natural balance in their role as top predators. Shark populations are under great threat from fining, persecution, habitat destruction and climate change. The aim of the Frontier-Fiji Shark Conservation Project is to firstly increase the understanding of populations of sharks around the island of Beqa, where data is known to be deficient, this information is vital for successful management strategies and shark conservation. Secondly, this project aims to increase the knowledge surrounding the population dynamics and behaviour of the endangered scalloped hammerhead shark, in order to strengthen local and international protections for this species. In addition to scientific data collection Frontier is working with local communities to raise awareness regarding the importance of sharks and help them to make informed decisions regarding the management of their coastal ecosystems for the protection of sharks.
To achieve this mission, we conduct scientific surveys on reefs occupied by sharks, investigating their population assemblage in relation to the marine habitat. We conduct surveys on populations of endangered baby scalloped hammerhead sharks through tagging the sharks to better understand their population dynamics, behaviour and to better protect the species locally and internationally. Once population levels are determined and we have identified the factors contributing to either a decline in or enhancement of shark numbers, this information can be fed back to marine experts to assist in successful management strategies and we can we can increase our work with local communities; building awareness of the value and vulnerability of local shark populations and working to increase protections.
WHAT WILL I BE DOING?
The marine research and conservation programme is run in association with The University of the South Pacific. The work aims to provide the local stakeholders, research organisations and government bodies with the information they need to design and implement management plans for the future protection of shark populations and their habitat around Beqa island and lagoon.
To gather the data needed you will be diving in areas known to be frequented by sharks and studying their diversity and behaviour(if necessary you will learn to dive first). You will explore the surrounding coral ecosystems to determine what factors are contributing to changes in the shark population, such as, availability of food, pollution levels and the health of the coral reefs. To do this you will record the diversity of many fish and marine invertebrate species, assess diversity and cover of coral species, alongside recording various environmental factors. You will be participating in the capture and tagging of baby scalloped hammerhead sharks and recording of related biological information from survey vessels. This work is being carried out in partnership with The University of the South Pacific, with the aim of better understanding the population dynamics in the area and increasing protections of this endangered and poorly understood species. Frontiers scientific research techniques are robust and proven in the field including: roaming survey dives and line intercept transects for assessment of fish, invertebrate species as well coral diversity. In addition to working with the local shark populations you will also get the chance to carry out surveys on many ecologically and commercially important species of fish and invertebrate, from colourful little nudibranchs to the exploited snappers and groupers, you will be part of surveys assessing the general health of marine habitats, all being of great importance to local shark populations. The type of field work underway will depend on the time of year and the content of the research program when you join up and how long you are joining for. With so much to learn it's worth noting that those joining for only a few weeks will be training most of the time and may not get to do as much surveying.
hilst diving, you'll see an extraordinary array of animals in addition to several species of shark; from turtles to manta rays, sea cucumbers to feathery starfish, spiny urchins to octopus and jellyfish. When you motor out on the Frontier boats to distant dive sites you may even encounter rays, humpback whales or flying fish. By the end of your project you will be expert in identifying several species of shark and will have knowledge regarding their ecology and conservation. You will also be able to identify vast numbers of colourful and patterned reef fish, marine invertebrates and coral, as well as being an experienced and competent diver. Although the work is intense and challenging you'll get immense satisfaction from contributing to the conservation of these iconic, yet endangered species. You will return home with the new friends you've made and a wealth of fascinating stories and memories.
You'll find your team to be a fun, dynamic mix of ages and experiences, with members who all share a passion about sharks, saving endangered marine life and travelling in developing countries. Your staff will be young, friendly individuals who are highly experienced in their field and many have volunteered on a Frontier project earlier in their career.
- Suva, Central, Fiji
Duration:Less than 3 months
Time commitment:A lot (10+ hours/week)
Times of day:Mornings Afternoons
Days of week:Weekdays
Extra details:Fee required
International volunteer options:International volunteers welcome