Saturday, 16 July 2011
What a load of Bulls!
We've been in Fiji now for four full days and the reality of everything is now sinking in through a haze of exhaustion, excitement and the realisation of the task in hand, oh and Mike Neumann's endless jealous remarks about my delightful, milky complexion, cultivated over a year of not really going outside at all.
What can I say about this place? It really is amazing for a whole host of reasons, the weather is outstanding, sure there's been a bit of rain but it's still warm when it does, and lovely and hot when it doesn't, what's not to like?! From our four days here there are two stand out reasons why Fiji is an incredible place though, the people and the sharks.
I have had numerous encounters with sharks in many different parts of the world but let me say this and I urge you to take it on board...There is nowhere in the world that offers the kind of diving offered here by Beqa Adventure Divers, nowhere. It is breathtaking and nothing can prepare you for the sheer number of Bull Sharks and also their size, they are huge, really huge!
When you have upwards of forty big Bull Sharks and they are coming nose to nose with you (literally!) and you feel that connection between you and them, it is the kind of feeling which puts everything into perspective, all those dreams I have had my whole life are coming true every day and to be honest, it's something I am trying not to overstate, the shark diving here in Beqa, at Shark Reef, is without question THE best in the world that I know of. Bulls, Tawny Nurse Sharks, Whitetip and Blacktip Reef and Grey Reef Sharks are everywhere, you can't turn around without seeing a shark and where else in the world can offer you that? It is mind blowing!
We have done four of these dives now with many, many more to come and we are starting to be allowed to get closer to the action which is quite humbling because this is no cowboy operation. Thes things can't be rushed and if they don't think we are ready, then we don't go closer, simple as that. The staff here, from the receptionist Nani to Mike himself are top notch, not only do they have a world beating shark dive, but they have world beating staff. Friendly, passionate, knowledgeable and most important of all, they have an understanding of the sharks and their behaviour which puts them up there amongst the best, probably the best on the planet. For me to watch and learn from them is truly an honour, it is also refreshing to have seen another side to Mike, those of you who read his blogs may be interested to know he is exactly the same in real life but having had the pleasure of sitting with him watching his shark footage today, what is blindingly clear is that he loves sharks with a passion and respect that I can obviously relate to and with an astonishing level of knowledge.
The concept of putting divers in such close proximity to huge, dangerous sharks without the use of a cage is of course a controversial one but here is proof it can be done and to the extreme, we had about sixty Bulls alone on our first dive and to control a situation like that takes the best people, with the best training and with an understanding of shark behaviour the anti-shark feeding, armchair pseudo scientists would do well to look at and learn from. This isn't something just anybody can do and that speaks volumes for all of Mike's staff.
Filming has begun of course and we have met and spoken with some wonderful people and I can also confirm that this film will feature footage, never seen before in the world by anyone, seriously, animal behaviour which has to be seen to be believed.
This certainly isn't a holiday let me assure you, only now, at half midnight local time have I found time to do a blog and send an email, the days are long, it's hot and aside from filming I have the arduous task of downloading and logging all footage shot by myself, Hugh and Hamish who also took these photos by the way. However, I'm having a blast and I cannot speak highly enough of Alfie and all the staff at Uprising Beach Resort who have been exceptional, welcoming and warm throughout our stay here and also put us up in two beautiful villas right on the beach!
I visited the village of Galoa the other day and they were kind enough to let me film there and that has been one of the highlights. They live in what many Brits would describe as "poverty" but their warmth was very humbling, plus, they never stopped smiling and you haven't seen the happiest kids in the world til you come here, everyone is always smiling, it makes a lovely change!
OK, it's late, I'm tired and I still have work to do so that's it for now but keep checking back and I'll keep updating you and if Fiji's broadband will let me, I'll put some video up soon too!