Danny checks out northern wall
No wonder they choose to live here.
Dolphins at depth
Spinners at play
Last week Regional Director, Danny and I headed up to Moon Reef on the east coast of Viti Levu to pay a visit to the site of our new Spinner Dolphin Research project.
A two hour drive on rough dirt tracks heading North from Suva through the dramatic scenery of eastern Viti Levu, rugged mountains, pine forest, jungle mist, sweeping views over deserted bays, brings you to the small village of Dawasamu overlooking the Vatu-I-Ra Channel. After meeting our welcoming hosts and exploring the surroundings we headed out to Moon Reef by boat, 20mins offshore. Even from 200 metres away we could already see the fins of the dolphins clustered together in a group at the center of the reef system. By the time we drew closer the water was teaming with dolphins. Over the next 40mins we counted approximately 70 Spinner dolphins, an incredible population. The surrounding reefs are pristine, boasting almost 100% coral cover and great fish diversity. The health of these reefs provides a good bench mark for how Fiji’s reefs should look, unfortunately, having dived extensively in Fiji, I know that the majority of reefs in proximity to the main island are nowhere near as healthy and stunning as what we saw during a brief snorkel at Moon Reef.
The next day we caught up with Dr. Cara Miller from The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society who will be designing our research program which will tie in with her ongoing research into dolphin behaviour. It was exciting to discuss the methodology and get a sense of how the upcoming volunteer program will enable Cara to add depth and detail to the current research into the dolphins of Moon Reef. Through consistent monitoring and data collection (photographic id or underwater acoustic sampling, for example) , GVI volunteers will contribute to the compilation of behavioural profiles that will ultimately enable us to draw further conclusions about what it is that draws such a large population of dolphins to this particular reef year in year out. This initiative will contribute to a larger ‘holistic’ management plan designed to regulate boat traffic in the area and understand the impact that this traffic may be having on the dolphin population.