Friday, January 01, 2010

2009 - Fabulous!

Well, the International Year of the Shark has ended.

It has been a huge success and you can read about all the initiatives it has spawned in this nice wrap-up on the CNN iReport site.
Kudos to Ila, one of the initiators together with our friend The Sharkman, for having posted it there. Congratulations and Thank You! to both of them for having come up with this brilliant grassroots initiative!

For us, the IYoS has sparked a flurry of activities, foremost of which coordinating Fiji's very own contribution, the Fiji Shark Conservation and Awareness Project.
We were able to unite the who's who of Fiji's conservationists and eco-friendly operators behind one terrific common cause for which Valerie Taylor graciously agreed to act as the patron and which thanks to the endorsement by the Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association, became the centerpiece of the hugely successful 2009 FIHTA Dive Fiji EXPO.

Under its auspices, many supporters held Shark Awareness Presentations, there were lectures, a poster, a line of apparel and a DVD and many more local and individual initiatives, like the establishment of a Shark conservation group by our friend Tafa.

There were also many pro-Shark articles in the local press, among which this piece by Maggie Boyle in Wansolwara and this terrific feature by Jone Kalouniviti in Fiji's premier lifestyle magazine MaiLife.

Our co-operation with Jone and Fiji's award-winning media star Stanley Simpson also led to the airing of two terrific pro-Shark documentaries on MaiTV, first this first-hand testimony focusing on the necessity of protecting Fiji's Sharks,

you can watch the following 3 clips right here and on the following page

and then, this report about our work on the Shark nurseries in Fiji's rivers, featuring an impassioned and touching plea by Rusi for their protection.

Part 2 here.

Finally, we also produced Fiji's first-ever pro-Shark PSA featuring Fiji's very own Shark Man, our unique and unequaled Rusi.
Once again, our gratitude goes to the Shark Foundation and to PADI Project AWARE for their generous sponsorship, and to Imraz Iqbal of Niuwavemedia for his brilliant editing. I sincerely hope that they're as proud of the end result as we are!

English version here.

Niuwave also set up our brand new website.
It obviously will always be work in progress as we never cease to expand our research and conservation, to refine our procedures and to log an ever increasing number of Sharks - but we will do our utmost to always keep it updated and we invite everybody to familiarize themselves with its contents before booking a dive with us.

The other Fiji-wide initiative we were intimately involved in, was the Fiji contribution to the Shark Free Marinas Initiative where we took on the task of rolling it out throughout all of the Beqa region.
Spawned by the good people over at Shark Diver, it was taken up and coordinated locally by Stuart Gow of Matava. The Fiji contingent now numbers 21 participating marinas and game fishing operators and is very much on track to its ultimate goal, to have Fiji become “the first country to be proud to announce itself as a ‘Shark-Free Marinas’ Country”.
Kudos to Patric, Luke and Stuart for this epic achievement!

Talking of putting Fiji on the map, we were featured in countless international reviews and worked on some stunning film projects, one of which, BBC's South Pacific, aired to rave reviews.
We also very publicly refused to participate in a particularly nasty production for Discovery but were alas not successful in preventing its airing during this year's Shark Week. What amounts to a personal failure however seems to have triggered some positive consequences as we have been literally swamped with requests for A-listed pro-Shark programs, many of which are set to be aired to world-wide audiences in 2010.
The Blog continued to be popular, opinionated and controversial and we are now also on Facebook and a new member of Mark's brilliant iDive Sharks.

The research projects continued unabated.
The latest fish count yielded more than 420 species and when it comes to Juerg's Bull Shark Tagging Programme, the principal focus slowly shifted away from Shark Reef and towards our work in the rivers. And like always, Juerg just kept on cranking out papers, this time about Ecotourism and about one of the techniques we deploy when tagging the Sharks. And I know that there's several more which are currently being peer-reviewed, so keep watching this space!

And what about Beqa Adventure Divers?
As anticipated by Patric, after five years of BADness, 2009 was our best year ever.
Over 4,000 intrepid sharkaholics, reef divers and students braved the adverse circumstances and found their way to our humble abode in Pacific Harbour, allowing us to expand our staff to fifteen and to disburse over FJD 30,000 to our partners in the various villages in line with our Fiji Shark Project. And not only that: most of our dive gear has been replaced and both Hunter and Predator now run the low-emission Yamaha 150s. And yes, after many announcements, as of February, we shall be finally offering Nitrox!

Yes, that's a whole lot of links!
Dear friends, co-activists, readers, business partners and valued customers: Vinaka Vakalevu!
We all look forward to an equally fabulous and inspiring 2010!


The Sharkman said...

Thank you to Beqa Adventure Divers for the great contribution that they gave to YEAR OF THE SHARKS 2009.

I can safely say that they contributed and achieved a lot for the sharks during this year.

It was also a great honour and pleasure to be there working with them.

VINAKA my friends. I hope that one day we meet again.

DaShark said...

Methinks that it may be sooner than we all expect!

Vinaka Alex!