Marine science for Maraia

CONSERVATION has become a major part of Maraia Naisau’s life after she graduated and she defied the odds by pushing through many boundaries.

Maraia, a qualified marine life support technician or marine biologist is from Naruwai Village in Bua, a village situated in the interior of Vanua Levu away from the ocean and the hustle and bustle of city life.

Before Maraia even dreamt of being a marine biologist, she feared the ocean and its contents because she was not accustomed to it. Being born and raised in the interior of Vanua Levu away from the sea, she dreaded the idea of even standing close to the seashore.

Her family told her she was crazy wanting to pursue a career in marine science later in life because she feared the ocean and that marine science didn’t apply to their day to day life in the village.

“I had to overcome my fears and I didn’t want to back down from achieving something great in life and my family wanted me to be a teacher instead because it was a well recognised job in the village. I just stood my ground and pursued something completely different,” Maraia said.

“I’m proud of being a marine biologist because I proved a lot of people wrong by overcoming my fears and achieving my goals.”

You can see how much Maraia loves marine life by how she takes care of the Kula WILD Adventure Park’s marine life every day.

Her role as a marine biologist is to make sure that marine life in the park aquarium is taken care of.

She also has the responsibility to measure water parameter since the park does its own seawater. Maraia ensures the salinity level is at the required amount for marine life to survive and even thrive.

“I love my job because I get to work with these incredible marine species daily that have an interesting life cycle,” she said.

She attributes her success to God alone because it was through her faith in him she completed her studies and land her a job at the park.

“I did my degree in marine science and also during my scuba diving program my major study was based on different families and species of fish and sea cucumbers,” she said.

“When I entered into this field of work, my boss and my supervisor assisted me a lot with the marine life supporting system and I was amazed too because I never really learned about aquarium system during my university studies.

“I’m a graduate with a Bachelor of Science Degree majoring in marine science. I’m proud of the fact that I’ve been able to achieve my goal of becoming a marine biologist and being able to contribute to marine life conservation in the country.”

Maraia said she had something completely different in mind when she was growing up, wanting to pursue a career in the medical field as a nurse.

“I wanted to be a nurse and I had missed the interview so I joined the Fiji National University trying to acquire a Bachelor’s Degree in agriculture and after three months I switched to marine science at USP because I wanted to learn about marine life and I wanted to be the first person in my community to have a profession in this field,” she said.

She said an unforgettable moment for her was being selected as one of the top three regional students from USP to be part of a National Scholarship Program to do scuba diving licence program for three months at Caqalai Island Resort, on Moturiki.

“I shared and at the same time gained a lot of conservation and monitoring knowledge. This was the first time for me to do diving and to be able to dive up to 30 metres and I learned how to use a compressor by filling up a scuba cylinder which was a plus for me.

“I only have a great interest in diving because I like swimming with turtles and sharks and also the conservation and monitoring of marine life.

“I want to enhance my knowledge in this field work and continue with my diving program and try to acquire a dive master qualification so I can help more in conservation programs for the future generation of Fiji.”

Her advice to young people is to follow their heart and to pursue a career goal that they love.

“If someone is interested to be a marine biologist, there is nothing impossible because if I can do it someone who was once afraid of the ocean and lived in the interior of Vanua Levu, surely anyone can achieve the same goals too,” she said.

Maraia’s proud to call herself a conservationist and an ocean enthusiast.