Posted by: glennandert | 4-August-2008

Yadua Island in Fiji

This story goes back to June 2007 when Pamela and I were on board ‘Learjet’ at the island of Yandua. We were taking ‘Learjet’ from Savusavu on the island of Vanue Levu, to the main island of Fiji, Viti Levu. The wee island of Yadua is on the way.

See the map below.

The navigation chart for the area is below. We stayed first at Navi Laca Bay on the east side of the island. The red line on the chart is our GPS track. No, we did not run over the reef. This is yet another place where the official marine charts have adequate local accuracy, but are poorly registered with respect to GPS positions. You need good light and eyes open to get into Navi Laca Bay!

After a few days at Navi Laca, we moved over to the west side of the island and stayed in Cukuvoa Bay. This is where we saw the pod of manta rays as we entered the bay. I did 4 scuba dives in this bay, some solo and some with a friend aboard sailing yacht ‘Artic Fox’.

There are a lot of great reefs for diving, both at the mouth of the bay were we were anchored as well as further along the west side of the island. There is the usual difficulty of finding just the right spot for the dink where it is near the dive site, safe, and without putting the anchor on the reef itself.

The visibility was not very good, so I had a lot of trouble with backscatter (light from the strobe bouncing back off of small particles in the water and making hundreds of little white spots in the photo). Nevertheless, the diving was lovely.

I had been hoping to see those manta rays that we saw from ‘Learjet’ when we entered the bay. No luck there. But I did see lots of other cool stuff. The highlight of my first dive was the following photo of a white tip reef shark. As I recall, he was a pretty good size, and bigger than me. Notice the ramora underneath. We had a bunch of those visit us at the end of the season in Isle de Pins in New Caledonia. The ramoras in New Cal make this one look like a midget.

Wikipedia has a nice article on the whitetip reef shark.

I really enjoy these little black and white striped guys. They are about 25mm high. I often see large schools of them among certain kinds of hard coral. It is very difficult to get a photo of the large schools, because they shrink back into the coral as soon as you bring the camera to bear.

Now this little guy is very cool. He is about 75mm long and lies in the sandy rubble. To get a photograph I also lie in the rubble and very slowly inch my way closer and closer, taking shots at each step along the way.

I never tire of fan coral. The white fuzzy bits are the live polyps that filter feed from the water.

This green colored coral in the foreground is rather fascinating. See how it has round stacks with holes in the end? The polyps that are hidden during the day are in bloom at night, and absolutely stunning. Can’t find a photo of one of these right now.

Here is a close up of the fan coral. You can see white polyps quite clearly.

This guy is a pink anemone fish. He is one of my favorite fish. Rather hard to get a good closeup shot of this guy, because he retreats back into the anemone for protection every time you try to get close, and he likes to dart in and out of the anemone, making it tough to keep him in focus.

This is actually quite a small little fish, about 25mm high. He is called a Reticulate Dascalas. This particular one was being so cooperative I managed to get a very close shot.

This guy is called a Regal Angelfish. It is such an awesome angel fish, and is one of my favorite. This specimen is about 150mm long. These are not that common, and quite camera shy, so getting a great shot is a bit tricky, especially in these conditions with all the backscatter.

The Regal Angelfish is a popular salt-water aquarium fish. That’s unfortunate, because they are not capable of being bred in captivity, which means that somebody is snatching them from reefs, and given what I’ve heard about the techniques, it’s ugly. This site has some fascinating information about the breeding behavior of angelfish.  They appear to behave like the Scale Fin Anthias with harems containing a single dominant male and one to four females. The harems exhibit a pecking-order hierarchical system of dominance. If the male is removed from the harem, the top ranking female will change to the male sex over a period of only two to three weeks, and now its her harem!

The following photo is from my 3rd day of diving at Yadua. You have seen these creatures in some of my earlier posts. But this black crinoid specimen is in a rather unusual pose, and hence the posting.

I’ll close with a shot of one of my most favorite angelfish, the Semicircle Angelfish. These guys are really gorgeous. To get a shot of one of these requires a lot of persistence. They tend to hide in holes and crevices and are quite camera shy.

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Responses

  1. We have just had 4 weeks motoring our 65ft Cat around New Cal, Is of Pines and two of the Loyalty Is. Back home now and in Oz for 2 weeks and then hubby is going to motor the boat to Fiji. He loves diving and your under water shots of the fish and corals look fantastic. I take photos above the water with a Cannon 50D. What type of camera do you use or would you recommend, as we need to buy one to take diving shots while we are in Fiji
    Yvette

    • My camera now hopelessly out of date. First year had a ReefMaster or something like that. It was awful. Second year had a Canon consumer camera, powershot s80 withs perfectly matching housing from Canon, and strobe. Lovely setup. Easy. Worked great. Fully automatic. Only issue is long shutter delay for critters. And poor close up foci s. Third year got a used housing for Nikon D70. Big bulky, not fully automatic, but fast with great macro, and loved it, but certainly more effort involved with this rig.


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