‘My Fiji Shark’ is a collaborative venture between Beqa Adventure Divers ‘BAD’; the United Nations Development Programme ‘UNDP’ & the South Pacific Tourism Organization ‘SPTO’ who have created this project in order to achieve the shark research, management and conservation goals they all share.
‘My Fiji Shark’ is a shark adoption program.
The sharks offered for adoption are resident to Fiji and consistent visitors to the Shark Reef Marine Reserve (SRMR). While there are over 200 individually named sharks, around 50 of them visit on a frequent basis, and so are being offered for adoption. When you ‘adopt’ a shark, you adopt an individual: one with a name, a personality and a history. By adopting a Fijian Shark, not only will you learn about shark behaviour and shark biology but you become a vital part of the ongoing support and advocacy for these misunderstood animals.
The revenues generated from ‘My Fiji Shark’ will be used to support existing shark conservation measures; fund research; purchase research materials; create new shark conservation and inshore fisheries management programs; and build an independent Shark Lab to conduct in-country shark conservation research. We also aim to assist government if and when they will implement their voluntary commitments made at the UN Ocean Conference.
Only a handful of sharks can be ‘named’ during any given year.
To be given a ‘name’ they must exhibit a permanent identifiable mark, injury or genetic feature which would enable them to be recognized during the dives, monitored and entered into the scientific data base of the Marine Park. On each shark dive, BAD’s staff marine biologists observe and record which named sharks are present, their interactions, feeding behaviors and physical attributes notating injuries, pregnancies, mating scars and more.
The Shark Dive
The Shark Dive takes place in SRMR 5 days a week.
The Shark Dive is 3 levels of diving, with feeding occurring at each level. At the deepest levels are the Bull Sharks; mid-level are Grey Reef and Whitetip Reef Sharks; on the top of the reef are Whitetip and Blacktip Reef Sharks. While it is possible to see up to 8 species of sharks on a single dive, members of these 4 species are present on a daily basis while Tawny Nurse, Sickle-Fin Lemon, Silvertip and Tiger Sharks are less frequent visitors to SRMR.
The sharks display an array of feeding behaviors.
There are 3 types of feeding behaviors: hand-feeding, aerial feeding, and substrate feeding. Hand-feeders will take tuna directly from the dive masters; aerial feeders will compete for tuna mid-water as it is dropped from a suspended bin; and substrate feeders will retrieve tuna which has fallen to the ocean floor. Sharks can specialize in a feeding behavior, exhibit a combination of 2 behaviors, or even be a generalized feeder displaying all 3 behaviors. Some of our sharks learn by patterning their behaviour and observing other sharks, while others work on perfecting their technique, and others never progress at all. So it is not uncommon for younger sharks to add to their repertoire of feeding behaviours the longer they visit SRMR.
Our sharks each have unique personalities, much like you and I. Some individuals have been visiting SRMR for over 15 years, while others have just begun. Our sharks display characteristics of being shy, outgoing, inquisitive, friendly, dominant, playful, sneaky, quick witted and more. Moreover, their personalities and behaviours evolve as they grow older and continue to frequent the SRMR. We are in a unique position to share this qualities
with you and to introduce you to side of sharks you have never known before.
Our Sharks offered for adoption are separated into 3 ranks.