Namena's sea

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The island is surrounded by a coral reef and so has a plethora of fishes and underwater wildlife. The water is turquoise over the reef and bommies and it is as clear as the sky.

The reef is a protected marine reserve, thanks to Joan's intervention. All divers have to buy a $20 "reef tag" that gives them permission to dive. The money goes to maintaining the reef environment and to scholarships for the children in Savusavu.

Divers on boats like this one dive up to six times a day; that's bad for the reef.

Joan had petitioned the government for protected status for their reef, to no avail. One of her friends who works for the UN dismissed her attempts at conservationism. "You won't be able to do it," he advised. That got Joan's Sicilian blood pumping and she initiated a grassroots effort by the local islanders. "I told our men, 'Go tell your fathers, your brothers, your uncles that the reef is being overfished and destroyed. This is your land, your heritage. You should preserve it.'" And it worked.

So what are they preserving? An astonishing array of fish--particolored parrotfish, surgeon fish with long snouts, puffers, damselfish, sardines, and dozens of others. I saw sleeping reef sharks and just missed a glimpse of a manta--Vijay pointed it out but it moved too quickly! There were so many fish I can't keep track of them all, though I tried to look up the ones I remembered in the reference books in the lounge.

School of yellowish spotted fish; me snorkeling; striped fish of unknown type.

We only snorkelled out at the reef one afternoon, but spent time in nearer the island gawking at the underwater beauty. Even near the dock there were schools of colorful fish and live corals in vivid blue and pale purple, swaying orange tendrils, big expanses of green-grey swirls. The ocean is better than a paintbox.

A chiton, formerly prized for jewelry; green shore crab; our shy turtle firend; a hermit crab.

Close to the shore we saw sea snails, chitons, anenome, starfish, hermit crabs (Tod's favorite) and brilliant green shore crabs. Blennies hopped around in the tide pools. Turtles migrate to nest on the island and we saw one of the three resident turtles swimming around our bure one afternoon.

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