Baby shark attraction

A TABU on waters surrounding Leleuvia Island Resort has dawned a new attraction on the tropical island – baby sharks.

Resort manager Colin Philp said the shark nursery was a result of the improvement in the quality of the marine environment because of the tabu.

In 2013, the new island managers Colin Philp and Lee Anne Lee introduced a tabu in the surrounding waters after gaining approval from the iTaukei with harvesting rights of marine resources within the area.

A tabu is an ancient tradition of most if not all indigenous peoples of the South Pacific. It is what modern-day civilisation calls “conservation efforts”.

The tabu involves a marking off of a certain area as a no fishing or acquiring of any type of marine life zone for a specific period of time. This could be five to 10 years depending on the state of the marine life.

“Sharks are at the top of the food chain and a healthy shark population is a sign of a healthy marine eco system. In 2015 we started to notice baby sharks congregating at the northern end of the island for several weeks of the year,” Mr Philp said.

He added the island had a policy of letting guests know about the sharks in case they saw them and got scared.

“The shark nursery was a result of the improvement in the quality of the marine environment due to the tabu. Sharks are at the top of the food chain and a healthy shark population is a sign of a healthy marine ecosystem,” Mr Philps said.

“In 2015 we started to notice baby sharks congregating at the northern end of the island for several weeks of the year. Then this became more and more frequent. Now we see these baby sharks are there all year round and they have become a tourist attraction.

“They are harmless and as long as you show them respect and do not scare them, they will show you the same respect in return.

“We have had kids in the water swimming with them and loving it.”

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