Miss South Pacific supporting marine conservation
The first time I decided to go out scuba diving was back in 2006 after I began my Marine Science Degree courses at the University of the South Pacific. Blessed with abundant options I travelled down to Nadi, and got my PADI dive certificate from Aqua Blue Surf Dive and Snorkel, Fiji Islands. I got to go out to the Yasawa Islands, namely, Sand Bank Reef and Tui’s Reef to conduct my underwater skills training and open water training.
Quite recently after winning the Miss South Pacific Pageant which was held in Samoa in December 2011, I was once again presented with a great opportunity when I met Howard Foster, the Director of South Pacific Projects. Howard organised a refresher dive for me with Greg Buxton, the owner of the Suva Diving Club. Greg offers professional SCUBA training courses and I accompanied Greg and an adventurous Australian family out to ‘Fish Patch’ Reef to do the refresher course.
Although there had been a 6 year lapse since my last dive, I must admit I wasn’t apprehensive; there was more of a giddiness, to see how much I could still remember; setting up a regulator on the tank? The signs and signals we must know when diving? Conducting all the important safety checks? But most of all I was eager to get back to this underwater world I had not visited for so long. No matter how often you watch it on the Discovery channel, read about it and study it, the wonder and beauty of these underwater monoliths never cease to amaze me and I feel every visit is special. The various species of hard coral, soft coral, the fish species in all their different hues, from the fearful ones darting into their safe crevices to the aggressive ones that swim right up to your mask daring you to move an inch closer. Each holds its own unique beauty and purpose.
The refresher course helped me familiarize myself again with all the skills of diving, it also reaffirmed my belief in the importance of preserving and maintaining this fragile world that is so deeply connected to our livelihoods’ and our culture and so important to our existence, especially in Pacific Island countries. South Paciifc Projects has invited me to participate in some new marine conservation initiatives being sponsored by the SEA LIFE London Aquarium in Fiji and I hope to get back in the water again soon. I only hope that I can in some small way contribute positively toward conserving Fiji’s marine environment, not only for ourselves but for future generations.
Alisi Rabukawaqa, Fiji