Volunteer Shark Conservation in Fiji
Volunteers on Projects Abroad’s Shark Conservation project in Fiji work on pioneering shark protection projects alongside respected scientists and shark research experts.
This project needs volunteers with a passion for marine wildlife and the great outdoors. The Fiji Shark Conservation Project offers the chance to get up close to some of the most endangered and misunderstood animals in the world. Volunteers are welcome on a gap year, a career break, for university research, or simply as a way to volunteer abroad as a worthwhile travel experience.
Working directly with the Shark Conservation & Awareness Project and two internationally renowned shark research scientists, volunteers are directly involved in scientific shark research work. The volunteers and the conservation work are supervised by our resident marine biologist. We also work closely and share our data with other local and international marine conservation organizations, including the Coral Reef Alliance.
The project is based in Pacific Harbour, on the south coast of Fiji’s main island of Viti Levu, just 45 minutes by bus from Suva and 3 hours from Nadi.
Volunteers do not need any previous diving or shark research experience to take part in the Fiji Conservation project. However, volunteers must be able to swim and be medically fit to scuba dive. This project is not available if you do not want to get involved with the diving activities.
Volunteers who have not dived before receive the PADI Open Water dive course and the Project Aware Shark Specialty Certification during their first two weeks on the project. Volunteers with an existing dive certification equivalent to the PADI Open Water qualification or higher receive a refresher dive course if need be and the Project Aware Shark Specialty Certification. They will then be able to start the diving related conservation work within the first week.
The Fiji Shark Conservation project will be launching in January 2014.
Your Role Volunteering on the Conservation & Environment Project in Fiji
As a volunteer on the Fiji Shark Conservation project you will assist the local scientists with a wide range of on-going research projects and activities, such as:
- Tagging of baby sharks
- Shark count surveys
- Shark identification
- Setting underwater cameras and retrieving data
- Telemetry measuring and data collection via acoustic tags
- Data entry and analysis
- Bycatch and fishing surveys
- Working on shark finning issues
- Marine park and shark protected zoning
- Implementing a local education program
- Shark nursery habitat project
- Mangrove reforestation work
The Projects Abroad Fiji Conservation Manager is also a professionally trained and experienced shark wrangler, having trained and worked in the Bahamas under the guidance of some of the most experienced shark experts in the world.
Volunteers work five days a week and the weekly schedule usually involves 3 days of diving work or other activities on the water and 2 days of land-based work. A typical working day will run from 7am to 4pm. However, depending on the activities volunteers may be required to start earlier or finish later or even work over the weekend. Expert local staff are on hand to supervise activities and provide support.
The Goals of the Conservation & Environment Project in Fiji
The primary aims of the Shark Conservation Project in Fiji are to protect and conserve the 8 species of sharks that inhabit Shark Reef, as well other species present in Fiji’s waters, and to raise awareness of the need for shark conservation around the world.
The Fijian Government is in full support of the shark protection work in Fiji and sharks are currently at the top of the political conservation agenda.
Sharks play a crucial role in our oceans. Most sharks serve as predators at the top of the marine food pyramid, and so play a critical role in ocean ecosystems. Directly or indirectly they regulate the natural balance of these ecosystems, at all levels, and are therefore an essential part of them. Sharks usually hunt old, weak, or sick prey and help to keep the prey population in good condition, enabling these more naturally fit animals to reproduce and pass on their genes. The effects of removing sharks from ocean ecosystems, although complex and rather unpredictable, are very likely to be ecologically and economically damaging.
The shark research being carried out on the project in Fiji helps to ensure that scientists and marine protection lobbyists are provided with regular and consistent scientific data about the life history, reproductive information, movement, and biology of the sharks found in Fijian waters. This information is vital for devising successful conservation and management strategies to help keep these specific shark species off the critically endangered species lists.
On all Projects Abroad Conservation projects we strive to involve the local communities in our programs to make sure the community and future generations are aware of the conservation issues that affect them. In Fiji, Conservation volunteers work with local villages on a weekly basis to plant mangroves and with school children and local people once or twice a month on our regular outreach programs.
As part of the weekly mangrove work volunteers calculate the carbon footprint of their air travel to Fiji and work with the Mangroves for Fiji Project to produce and plant enough mangroves to offset their carbon impact on the planet.
Food and Accommodation for Conservation & Environment Volunteers
Volunteers live together in villa-style accommodation in Pacific Harbour, with 2 - 4 volunteers sharing a room. A local housekeeper looks after the volunteer accommodation and prepares three meals a day. Packed lunches are provided on days in the field.
You will be met at the international airport in Nadi and be transferred by bus to Pacific Harbour, 3 hours away. The large town of Suva, where we have many other volunteer projects, is about 45 minutes’ bus ride away.
The local food consists of plenty of rice, bread, chicken, and starchy root vegetables, as well as Indian curries. Tropical fruit like papaya, mango, pineapple, and watermelon are available in season. Vegetarians can be easily accommodated.
Pacific Harbour is known as the adventure capital of Fiji. In your spare time you can zip line, go kayaking, white water rafting, visiting breath taking waterfalls, and hike through the rainforest. For those looking for more relaxing activities, Pacific Harbour boasts one of the finest beaches on the main island, where you can sunbathe, go for a swim, or join the locals in a game of volleyball or rugby on the beach. You can also spend time at the Cultural Arts Village, which has a great selection of gift shops and restaurants.
This project is available for less than a month if you don't have time to join us for a month or more. This project has been selected by our local colleagues as being suitable for shorter durations for both the host community and the volunteer. Although you will gain valuable cultural insight and work intensely within the local community please be aware that you may not be able to make the same impact as someone participating for a longer period.