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Spinner dolphin Conservation in Fiji

South Pacific Projects collaborates with WDC and local community conservation group, the Dawasamu Environment Movement (DEM) to provide opportunities to Fijian students and members of the community to take
an active role in the research and conservation of a resident pod of Spinner dolphins (Stenella longirostris).

Spinner dolphins are listed by the IUCN as ‘data deficient’. This is the first project of its kind in the South Pacific and is being operated in collaboration with Dr. Cara Miller, Pacific Islands Program Manager for Whale and Dolphin Conservation

Dr. Miller provides the training for the students from the University of the South Pacific and members of the community so they can contribute to her research of a small resident population of Spinner dolphins at Moon Reef.  Moon Reef is a tropical reef complex located 7.3km off the north-east coast of the main island of Viti Levu in the Fiji Islands.

There are two critical elements to this project, fulfilling the research objectives and raising awareness of marine conservation issues in the local communities.


Dr. Miller’s research is to identify and study the behaviour of a resident pod of spinner dolphins. With the implementation of a local awareness-raising campaign, we aim to help the local community protect not only the Spinner dolphins, but the whole of their traditional fishing ground, which includes Moon Reef. South Pacific Projects believes that projects like this can empower local communities to manage their marine resources in more sustainable ways. The community can then make decisions that guarantee food security for future generations and protect marine biodiversity.


South Pacific Projects is a non-profit organisation and we work in partnership with local communities to empower those communities to establish community managed marine protected areas (MPAs). MPAs have been demonstrably shown worldwide to benefit the marine ecosystems where they are placed and create more sustainable fisheries for the communities that rely on marine resources. To that end, South Pacific Projects became an executive committee member of the Fiji Locally Managed Marine Area network in 2010.

FLMMA is a network of Government Departments, conservation NGO’s and most importantly, local communities from all over Fiji. By sharing knowledge and resources, local communities learn methods by which they can select areas of their traditional fishing grounds to close as an MPA and then monitor its performance. Dr. Miller and South Pacific Projects has been working with FLMMA and the eight villages of Dawasamu District to establish Moon Reef as a new Marine Protected Area. This was successfully achieved on April 24th at the inaugural meeting of the Dawasamu Environment Movement (DEM).

Whale & Dolphin Conservation

Established back in 1987, the Whale & Dolphin Conservation (WDC), is the leading global charity dedicated to the conservation and welfare of all whales and dolphins (also known as cetaceans). WDC is the world voice for the protection of these animals, creating pressure to bring about change. WDC defends these remarkable creatures against the many threats that they face;

• Hunting
• Captivity
• Chemical and noise pollution
• Ship collisions (ship strikes)
• Entanglement in fishing nets (bycatch)
• Climate change

WDC accomplishes this by taking money raised and investing it back into campaigns and projects across the globe that have a real impact.

Dr. Cara Miller

Dr. Miller’s undergraduate studies focused on animal behaviour and marine biology; whereas her Master’s degree in Applied Statistics examined population models and field survey design for migratory species.  She followed her Master’s degree with a four year project investigating habitat and abundance of a small resident population of bottlenose dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico, resulting in her gaining her PhD


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About Us

South Pacific Projects is a marine conservation NGO that operates an eco-tourism funded project in Fiji. Our research and conservation projects are carried out by our overseas volunteers, who work closely with our field research scientists and camp staff.

We are currently looking for overseas volunteers to work at our site in Leleuvia. Our research aims to identify strategies and targets that we can work towards to develop sustainable local environmental management plans for the unique reef systems of the region → Join up today