Resort adopts dive site
23 October, 2018, 4:00 am
AN iconic Fijian boutique resort – Toberua Island Resort – has adopted a dive site in order to protect and preserve its pristine marine environment.
The privately-owned island resort has adopted the site and registered it with Project AWARE, a non-profit organisation with 25 years’ experience making a difference for the underwater world.
Its initiatives include establishing marine-protected areas, and dealing with overfishing, sustainable fishing practices, coral health, endangered species and the problem of marine debris.
World Resorts of Distinction (WRD) resort marketing manager Narelle Langton said the resort was partnering with this global ocean conservation group to “make every dive count” for the environment.
“The resort wants to protect the reef ecosystem and contribute to sustainable diving practices. The “Adopt-A-Dive-Site” program allows them to focus on one area (although they are doing more) by sponsoring monthly cleanup dives of this site,” she said.
“They have also been educating staff and guests, and thus far, have conducted three different educational certification programs related to environmental skills and diving.”
In conjunction with this initiative, the resort has appointed a new dive instructor Dr Everette Ingram, who is an experienced educator, a seasoned world traveler and an advocate for the underwater world.
“Dr. Everette Ingram brings a wealth of cultural and diving knowledge to Fiji and the resort is lucky to have him,” Narelle said.
“He became a diver in 1993 and crossed into the professional realm in 2005. He has received several accolades from PADI and reached the highest rating of PADI Course Director. He has also been recognised as a “Silver” Course Director for professional development, after training over 300 students last year,” she added.
According to Dr Ingram, a lot of thought went into which dive site the resort should adopt, with initial preference going to the team’s favourite sites on the reef, to ensure they remain in pristine condition.
“Upon evaluating those sites, we were pleasantly surprised at how healthy they are and free of marine debris,” he said. “Toberua Island has an area on the lee of the island which is used by snorkelers, and in a cursory dive in that area, there was some debris found. Some of it may have come from the island, whereas other items of debris may have washed into the area from the mainland.”
“Since this is the first impression of the underwater world by our snorkelers, we want to have that area debris-free and use that as an entry into teaching conservation practices and allowing those snorkelers to become divers.”
The selected site is aptly named the “House Reef” and is easily accessible by both snorkelers and divers. It is home to some soft coral; however, the reef structure is covered with hard corals. Numerous fish species are prevalent, especially juvenile fish and divers can easily spot several different types of sea cucumbers and four different varieties of starfish.
“Because there are patches of sand and grass close to the reef, the site provides a great area for training new divers. Who wants to look at the bottom of a swimming pool, when you can learn to dive while finding Nemo?” Dr Ingram said.
Toberua is set on four sandy acres of lush, tropical gardens located in the middle of a private azure lagoon off the east coast of Fiji’s main island, Viti Levu.