Here we are setting halfway into our internship and off onto week 7 as newly qualified Rescue Divers and couldn’t have asked for a more perfect setting to practise our rescue scenarios and continue our surveying! Jolene, Xavier, Martin, and myself spend the better part of week 6 moving onto our Rescue Diver Course, which turned out to be very physically demanding, but extremely rewarding.
After a thorough introduction to the course via the PADI video and workbook (not the most exhilarating part of the course, but extremely necessary nonetheless) we were ready to jump, dive, and stride into the water for our practicals. Most of our scenarios were carried out right in front of base and the rest on the other side of Nanuya Lai Lai on the beautiful waters of Blue Lagoon. We each took our turns being victims and rescue heroes, giving us a very good appreciation of the rigorous physical demand it takes to tow, push, pull and de-kit a victim in the water at various depths, on the surface, and onto a boat as well as land. Unfortunately, being a victim didn’t turn out to be just lying on the water waiting to be rescued, as some of us found out. An unresponsive diver can be quite heavy to pull onto a boat and therefore, all of us came out a little bruised and scraped, but all worth it to know first hand how to potentially save a fellow diver’s life.
During our non-course dives, we continued our survey work at different sites and even helped survey a new location near Nacula village, named Honeymoon reef. As with every other pristine, blue water area anywhere on these islands Honeymoon reef did not fail. It was full of amazing and colourful marine life for our group to carry out our Line Intercept Transects (method used for benthic life form over a certain area) and Invertebrate Belt Transects (method used to keep track of invertebrates over a certain area). During our dive, and unbeknownst to us, a pod of eight dolphins had been hovering above! They had scattered as we ascended and loaded the boat, however, on the ride back to base they decided to rejoin and circle around us, keeping us company and making it one of the best moments I’ve had on these islands.
Furthermore, as we interns settle into different and added responsibilities on base and in our individual work, we’ve been able to appreciate the work that goes into maintaining such a unique remote living area. As interns we have been in charge of either First Aid, Water maintenance, Health and Safety, Fuel, and Food Pantry. The roles all involve maintaining the safety, supply, and materials in each to ensure that the daily base necessities are met for the larger volunteer group. With the help of the staff we’ve all risen to the challenges.
Topping our week off, we ended week 6 with a group fun-dive on Friday to the Zoo, another nearby site full of walls and tunnels of colourful reefs and great marine life. Though visibility was rather poor (and my fogging mask was making the view even less than ideal) I still managed to see a Moray eel, and also, my favourite, a group of eager and curious “marinees” (what we marine divers call ourselves) in an underwater train line. Another amazing, productive and fun filled week in our little corner of Fiji!