A good sleep in Cousteau's comfortable beds and I'm up bright and early waiting for breakfast. Walking down the path, I see that no one's up. I've been in Fiji 5 days now and I'm still on quasi-American time. Most of the guests here are Australian, so it'll be many hours before the place comes to life. The resort is beautiful without anybody around.
Today I'm diving at Namena Reserve Park. Two sites are on the agenda: Chimneys and Grand Central. Located about 45 south of the resort, these two sites are Cousteau's premier dive locations. I've dived these locations before and I can attest to them being superior to almost anything else in Fiji. While not as bio-diverse as Cakaulevu (the Great Sea Reef), Namena Marine Park's great profusion of schooling fish are worth seeing over and over. ... So, we're out at Chimneys. We've just taken pictures of a live aboard that has anchored on the reef. Johnny Singh plans on turning them in to the authorities as soon as we get back. Apparently, this is a big no-no. Chimneys is on the western edge of the Namena reef system. I can see
Namena Lala Island in the distance and the water is a rich royal blue. Oh, I can't wait to get in! Good sleep in Cousteau's comfortable beds and I'm up bright and early waiting for breakfast. Walking down the path, I see that no one's up. I've been in Fiji 5 days now and I'm still on quasi-American time. Most of the guests here are Australian, so it'll be many hours before the place comes to life. The resort is beautiful without anybody around. Chimneys consists of two pinnacles that rise 30 meters from a coral plateau that drops even deeper into the ocean depths. At the bottom of the first pinnacle are gorgonians, black corals, and other soft corals.
Gorgonians come in a range of colors and shapes, from fans to sea whips. Most appear dull at a distance, but are brilliant in color at close range – especially when a light is shown on them. In, attached, or stuck to the gorgonians or black corals, you’ll find algae, long nosed hawkfish, hydrozoa, brittle stars, feather-stars, very small gobies, and pygmy seahorses. Black coral is very slow growing and very old. They are, according to a 2009 study in the PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, "Extreme longevity in proteinaceous deep-sea corals", March 23, 2009), the oldest continuously living organisms on the planet, with many individuals being thousands of years old.
The Namena Marine Reserve was created in 1997 by the Kubulau communities, in coordination with the Coral Reef Alliance, as a breeding ground and sanctuary for marine life. In the years since, fish numbers have dramatically rebounded. The continuing conservation of this bounty has allowed groupers and other large predators of the reef to reach reproductive age, insuring a diverse, healthy, and magnificent seascape. No where else in Fiji is the evidence of marine management more telling than here; for truly, no other accessible dive sites in Fiji are as splendidly beautiful and awe-inspiring.