Sharks, Humpback Whales and a pirate ship

By 5 years ago
Categories Fiji Islands
Since my arrival at the GVI base in Nanuya LaiLai Island I have experienced a new way of life and started a new journey into diving.  When I first started the dive internship I was terrified of sharks and did not think I would ever have the courage to be in the same water as them let alone dive with them.  The only reason I had this fear was because of what I watched in movies when I was a little girl.  However, the opportunity arose to face that fear by going diving with sharks on our fun dive Friday afternoon.  A part of me really did not want to do it but I came to the realization that I needed to face this fear at some point because it has been the biggest reason why I don’t like swimming in deep water. On the boat ride over I was really nervous and came close to saying I was just going to wait on the boat but I knew I was going down with a great team, two very experienced divers, Candice and Luke and there was nothing to be afraid of.  As I was ascending to the bottom, I looked down and it was one of the most amazing moments of my life, sharks swimming below my feet.  Not only were they not dangerous or aggressive but they were so graceful and beautiful. There were five Bull Sharks, two Lemon Sharks, six White Tips, one Black Tip, and four Grey Reef swimming with us.  I am so lucky to have had that opportunity to face my biggest fear in my first month of this internship and I am really thankful for getting to be a part of that dive because I conquered my biggest fear.

After our shark dive while we were all hanging around base waiting for our afternoon dive, Candice, our Marine Science Coordinator, got a call from another dive staff member, Tai, saying he spotted Humpback Whales while he was on the flyer returning to base.  The next thing I knew we were on the boat heading in their direction.  It honestly felt like a dream; first I got to dive with sharks and now I was heading to go see whales.  When I signed up for this trip they did mention we would be here for whale season but I did not think I would be so lucky as to go photograph and observe them.  It took a few minutes to spot them but once we did it was a really amazing sight; the water was so calm, the sun was glaring, and in the distance the Humpback’s breached, their backs came out of the water a bit, raised their tails and went back under the water.  Everyone, including myself, is so lucky to have been a part of that because we were told there have not been any whales around for over a year and a half. 

Once the whales had swam away in the distance we headed to the tall ship called the Alvei that GVI is currently working with and it looks like a pirate ship!  The Alvei travels around the Yasawas going to different villages to install water tanks, plant plants, teach in local schools and bring supplies to the villages.  The original plan was to bring all of our dive gear and clean the bottom of the ship but since half of our group was out diving with the majority of the tanks we just geared up with our snorkels and started scraping the side.  It was surprisingly really fun because the cleaning wasn’t that hard to do and I got to do it with all of my dive buddies.  Once we had been working for about two hours and the other divers arrived with dive equipment and tanks we took a break by getting to jump off the mast of the ship as well as the rope swing on the side of the ship.  It was a really great way to end this already amazing day.  So many great opportunities are arising since the start of this internship that I would never have had the chance to do if I was still back home.  I am looking forward to writing more about my experience as the weeks pass.  Moce (good-bye) for now!

Danielle Gillard – Marine Conservation Intern