Shark Magic!

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Date: March 8 - 15, 2008
Destination: Bligh Water, Gau, Wakaya, Makogai, Namena Marine Reserve, Fiji
Welcome Back: Linda E., Olga G. and Ken E., Linda and Stephen H., Connie and Dave G.

"We respect the shark, that is why we worship it, and that is why we never eat the shark. We believe it will save us and protect us - the shark has magic."
-Officer Marcelline Saro, Honiara Police, Solomon Islands (see in Paul Theroux, "The Happy Isles of Oceania, Paddling the Pacific", p.203)


Gray reef shark with big-eye friend.


Not many of nature's wonderful creatures have received more undeserved bad publicity than sharks. Considered sacred and very well respected in many cultures, they have been and still are killed by the thousands, mainly for their fins, which are sent to Asia. The oceans, devoid of sharks, will yield yet another essential pillar of equilibrium, one more atrocity added to our long list of crimes against nature.


Shark grace.
The deep blue.


Humans are not on the sharks' menu; we only get bitten by mistake, either because we are too close to their normal food source, as in shark bite casualties that happen while shark feeding or spear fishing, or because we look much like their food source, for example when engaging in water sports like board surfing. Hence shark bite casualties due to these kinds of activities are not the sharks' fault, but our own responsibility. Let us remember this the next time we judge sharks yet again, and try to find excuses to exterminate them completely.


Nigali shark magic.


Nigali Passage in Gau is one of those rare places in the world where we have the great privilege of observing gray reef sharks, more than thirty individuals at any one time, from small juveniles to adults, and mostly females, without the need of putting food in the water. They circle slowly in front of our eyes, passing only a few feet away, riding the incoming current, and we may watch them until our diving computers protest.


Gray reef shark at Nigali.


Yet again we enjoyed two spectacular dives at Nigali Passage. We had crystal clear visibility and a large eagle ray accompanying us on our drift along the passage to the shark look-out point, the so called “Bleachers”, where the whole population of gray reef sharks was circling gracefully and effortlessly in the strong incoming current, joined yet again by the eagle ray, cruising slowly amongst them, while we held on to the rocks, like flags. Truly a gift of nature! Later on in the lagoon, the cabbage coral patch was also magnificent, covered with a dense umbrella of fluorescent blue-streak fusiliers.


Eagle ray at Nigali.
Nigali cabbage patch with sea snake.


Nigali Passage is not only special for sightings of sharks. Here we can also observe certain angelfish and butterflyfish species, which are quite rare on the other dive sites we visit. Amongst these are the three-spot angelfish (Apolemichthys trimaculatus), yellow banner-fin angelfish (Centropyge woodheadi), small schools of five to seven dotted butterflyfish (Chaetodon semeion) with the handsome blue patch on the forehead, schools of more than twenty saddled butterflyfish (Chaetodon ephippium) (usually we see those only in couples), and couples of reticulated (Chaetodon reticulatus), ornate (Chaetodon ornatissimus) and Meyer's (Chaetodon meyersi) butterflyfish.


Videgrapher Mike Boom harassed by malabar grouper.
Dive guide antics at Nigali.


Welcome back Linda E., Olga G. and Ken E. At the end of last charter they decided to stay on for the next one, and they would have stayed on for another one, but unfortunately there was no space. NAI'A and Fiji are the adopted Home of many.

Linda, again, did not miss a single dive, and Olga and Ken's gentle spirits and smiles illuminated the boat every day. Olga kept her title of Kava Queen… and Ken is looking into the possibility of organizing a time-share scheme on NAI'A…


Linda E. having fun at Makogai.
Why we always come back to Fiji...


The diving in Fiji is always awesome, but when planning and luck allow us to catch a dive site with just the right current and clear visibility, then Fiji diving is unbeatable… Jim's Alley gifted us with one of those spectacular Fiji dives. We started out at the ridge with all the schooling blue-lined and two-spot snappers, different kinds of cardinalfish, and the school of yellowtail barracuda welcoming us, joined by a school of twenty four longfin spadefish, feeling extremely sociable, swimming all around us up very close and personal, and following us during most of the dive. We also observed a sea snake going up for air and elegantly winding its way back down again. The purple puffed up soft corals looked like a lush garden, covered densely by blue and yellow, and lunar fusiliers. Not even the thought of yummy chocolate muffins for breakfast was enough to lure us out of the water.


Spadefish friends.


Spending time with friends and family, sharing holidays is always special. Hence Linda and Stephen H. with son Scott, and Connie and Dave G., decided to come back on NAI'A, a warm welcome back to you all. Friends Jalene and Dennis B. joined them. Scott was our Kava King and Dennis our honorable NAI'A Chief at Makogai village. Connie is a woman of many talents, not only enjoying diving, but also a good Harry Potter read, as well as, manicures and pedicures, and sewing. I particularly liked the evening with separated men's and ladies' tables, where we got to talk about chocolate and yoga, while the Gents were particularly interested in hot springs … you've got to have your priorities right…


Fierce Makogai warriors.


Dave finally saw a hammerhead in Fiji, after not seeing a single one on his trip to Cocos. When in doubt, come to Fiji, we have everything!!

Thanks to everyone of you for your kindness, smiles and enthusiasm!


Common lionfish.


Wakaya yet again, was on everybody's list of top favorites. We had such a peaceful dive, enjoying the lush, dense and big soft corals and fans all along the rims of the pinnacles and covering the walls. On the pinnacles we had many lionfish, hovering amongst the soft corals with wings widely spread, a golden mantis shrimp, a very nicely positioned devil-head scorpionfish, many schooling fish in the blue, and two hammerheads cruising out of the lagoon and heading to the open sea at the end of the dive … Vinaka Wakaya !!

Janet and Greg McC could not get enough of Fiji's underwater marvels. They never missed a dive and were always last out. They still believe in E6 and can't separate themselves from their Nikonos 5s.

North Save-A-Tack at Namena Marine Park is also one of those unmissable dives. We were welcomed by a big school of chevron barracuda, spiraling all the way from the surface down to one hundred feet. While we hang in the blue admiring them, two hammerheads caught our attention coming out from the blue.

Dave's smile was huge …  hammerheads at last!!

We had several gray reef sharks circling the cleaning station in front of the arch, and big schools of Heller's barracuda, big-eye jacks and longnose emperor, densely filling the area, with the two resident giant dogtooth tuna leading the parade.


Pristine Fijian coral garden.
Nembrotha lineolata.


Kansas was also its usual lovely self, with plenty critters in store for us, Nembrotha lineolata and Roboastra gracilis nudibranchs, a Flabellina exoptata, a baby slashing mantis shrimp in a hole, and a mini octopus spotted by Ken.


Mini octopus.
Mike's most handsome clam.
Kansas window.


This time the Kava King title had to be shared, as Tony R. joined Scott in his gusto for the excellent Fijian beverage.


Yellow-faced goby with shrimp.
Phyllidia ocellata mating.
Fijian reef tops.


Teton I's ribbon eels were on holiday, but we discovered a NAI'A pipefish in a new home, a very friendly one, too, posing in its hole, for everybody to see. The Tetons never disappoint, and also this time everybody came out raving about the soft corals and fans, about the nudibranchs, gobies and blennies, and about the spectacular reef tops covered in anthias and chromis, and the dense blanket of lunar fusiliers competing for the cleaning stations with jacks, snappers and surgeonfish.


Pipefish couple.
See you later!
Coral grouper romance.


Wade K. was a very happy camper and never missed a dive.

It seems to be the time for juvenile slashing mantis shrimps, as they poke their heads out of their holes on many reefs. We found another one at Mushroom II, as well as a black juvenile blue ribbon eel, two very friendly longfin spadefish, and dense clouds of lunar fusiliers. The stonefish was sitting under its table coral, looking grumpy as usual.


Juvenile blue ribbon eel.


Inger G. was the Captain's official doctor, and followed the guides closely, never missing a critter we showed.

Marie D. is a British videographer living in Australia, and was very much admired for her stamina, as she, seemingly effortlessly swam against the current pushing her immense videoing equipment ahead.


Grouper face.


The huge Queensland grouper has established himself as a permanent resident in one of Cat's Meow's windows, staring out from inside its home, scaring the living daylights out of everybody … we are sure he does it on purpose … size does matter sometimes…

Vinaka vaka levu, noqu Viti!!


Massive Queensland grouper at Cat's.


Guest Comments

“If you are not living life on the edge, you are taking up too much room!”
I'd like to be living on Fiji reef edges forever!!
Beautiful diving, excellent food, lovely caring friendly Crew.
Thanks to my snorkeling partner, and to Mo, Richie, Sonia, Johnathan and ALL the Crew.
Fantastic trip, I'll be back.
Marie D., Aussie and Brit, definitely not a woos, Brisbane, Australia

NAI'A was our first liveaboard. We enjoyed it so much we stayed for a second cruise. It can't get any better than this beautiful diving, great service, delicious food, wonderful boat.
Thanks for everything!
Will be back soon!
Olga G. and Ken E., Waukegan, IL, USA


Galathea Squat lobster.
Oh, Dear!
Chromodoris kuniei.
Wreck of Nasi Yalodina.
Stay away from my home.
Splendid flatworm.
Bubble coral shrimp.
Sea cucumber tentacles.


My first trip south of the Equator, first time in Fiji and, last but not least, my first liveaboard. I have been so happy with diving here in Fiji and doing it from NAI'A!
Sonia and her Crew have been very accommodating and it has really been the experience of a life-time for me – not being a very experienced diver, I felt very safe all the time – also when the current was strong!
Thank you very much!
Hopefully I will get to do other diving liveaboards!
Kind regards,
Inger G., Norway, currently on a sabbatical in Hawaii

We had a great time. Thanks so much for taking such great care of us.
Food was excellent.
Village visit was fantastic.
Jalene and Dennis B., Prospect, OR, USA


Linda E.
Olga G.
Ken E.
Flabellina nudibranch.
Stephen H.
Linda H.
Scott H.
Connie G.
Dave G.
It wasn't me, I promise!
Jalene B.
Dennis B.
Pink anemone.
Toby fishface.
Janet McC.
Greg McC.
Palette surgeonfish.
Tony R.
Wade K.
Inger G.
Marie D.
Juvenile slashing mantis shrimp.