Sunday, April 12, 2015

Great Fiji Shark Count - a Message from Helen!

Helen Sykes our irreducible GFSC manager has just issued the following statistics - click on the pictures for detail!

Results of Three Years of the Great Fiji Shark Count
 April 2015 

Over the past three years, dive operators across the Fiji Islands and their diving and snorkeling guests have been recording their Shark, Ray and Turtle sightings over the months of April and November. Thanks to those dedicated divers, we now have some interesting facts to share about Shark populations in Fiji.

The data is analyzed by the number of Shark/Ray/Turtle sightings recorded on every dive by every diver who takes part. This is called number of sightings per observation. Because there are usually many divers on each dive, we have thousands of observations every month.

We have separated dives where feeding was carried out from those where no feeding was done.

From a very enthusiastic start in April 2012, the number of participating dive operators has dropped to our reliable core team, representing operators on Viti Levu, Beqa, Taveuni, Vanua Levu, the Mamanuca and Yasawa islands, and the Lomai Viti / Vatu-i-Ra area. We'd like to thank those operators who have stuck by this project and worked hard to get the data to us in a useful format!

Even though the number of dive operators has decreased, the number of dives and of observations (every diver who takes part makes one observation per dive) has remained in the thousands, with the highest total of 4,278 observations in November 2013.


There have been some unexpected and exciting sightings recorded over the past three years.
  • Guitarfish, previously very rarely recorded in Fiji, have been regularly seen on sites along the Coral Coast. 
  • A Leatherback Turtle was seen during a dive (a very rare occurrence) in the Yasawas in November 2014 
  • Schooling Hammerheads have been regularly recorded on a dive site on the South Coast of Vanua Levu 
  • Mobula Rays have been recorded in the Pacific Harbour/ Beqa region and also in Namena, south of Vanua Levu 
  • Tahitian Rays (Himantura fai) were recorded in the Yasawas 
  • Hammerheads and Guitarfish have only been recorded on non-feeding dives 
  • Rays and Turtles are more common on non-feed dives than on baited feeding dives 
  • The most common sharks seen on baited feeding dives are Bull, White Tip Reef, Grey, and Black Tip Reef Sharks 
  • Some sharks species, including Bull, Grey Reef and possibly White-tip Reef Sharks, exhibit seasonal patterns of higher and lower numbers, which are probably related to breeding behaviour. 
  • So far no significant decrease in coastal shark populations has been seen, good news for those of us fearing that shark-fin fishing was continuing to damage shark stocks, but we can only confirm this one way or the other by continuing these surveys over the long term 
Non-Feeding Dives:

Over the years, across Fiji, divers have seen an average of 1.22 to 2.03 Sharks on every dive, plus one Ray and one Turtle every 5 to 10 dives. Shark sightings varied year by year, but the general trend appears stable or slightly increasing. Ray and Turtle sightings appear to be very stable.

Baited Dives:

You, our Contributors!

Continuity of data is vital if we are to make our case for Shark Conservation, and we'd like to recognise and thank our contributors, especially those who have been with us from the start, and continued every six months. Others have joined us recently, and are welcomed to the ranks. 
Here is our honour list: 

Six Counts 
  • Beqa Adventure Divers 
  • Nai'a Cruises 
  • Dive Tropex Tokoriki 
Five Counts 
  • Waidroka Bay Surf and Dive Resort 
  • Lalati Resort 
  • Taveuni Ocean Sports (Nakia Resort) 
  • Dive Tropex Tokoriki • Wananavu Dive 
Four Counts 
  • Taveuni Dive 
  • Dolphin Bay Divers 
  • Koro Sun Dive
  • Reef Safaris - Barefoot Island 
Three Counts 
  • Matava Eco Resort - Mad Fish Dive Centre 
  • Wakaya Club and Spa 
  • Viti Watersports 
  • GVI - Global Vision International Two Counts 
  • L'Aventure Cousteau Dive Centre 
One Count 
  • Pacific Harbour Fishing Group 
  • Paradise Taveuni 
  • Volivoli Beach 
  • Reef Safari - Shangri La Fijian Resort 
  • Castaway • Adrenalin Watersports 
  • Captain Cook Cruises 
  • Storck Cruises 
  • Reef Safari - Crystal Blue 
Great job Helen, Vinaka vakalevu!
Some ulterior comments from my side tomorrow!

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