Thursday, 29 March 2007

Part 4: A discussion on diving and air consumption: Depth

As already mentioned, it is not essential to go deep or stay deep on Fiji’s reefs. You might want to go and look at something specific at depth but if you find you use more air than your fellow divers, try reducing the average depth of your dive. With clear water, you can happily be a few metres above the other divers and still stay in touch.

Assuming a conservative air consumption of 20 litres per minute at the surface and also assuming you breathe a tank from 200 bar at the start to 50 bar back on the surface (total 1800 litres) – at an average depth of 15 metres you will have enough air for a 36 minute dive. At an average depth of 10 metres you will have enough air for a 45 minute dive. This is a massive 25% increase in time. Why not spend time exploring the shallows during the latter part of the dive. This is perfect in the tropics as you will see a huge amount of life in great natural bright light.

It is also great for your dive profile and repetitive dive no decompression limits.

Wednesday, 28 March 2007

Take a bet on global warming

You know it’s happening when a bookmaker comes up with a series of ‘global warming wagers’! Totesport is offering odds of a measly 25-1 only that a great white shark will be caught off the waters of the UK in 2007, believing that rising sea temperatures could attract the great white to British shores this year.

If it happens, let’s hope the Brit’s don’t develop the all sharks are bad attitude prevalent in many countries in our part of the world!

See full article at Science Daily.

Tuesday, 27 March 2007

Part 3: A discussion on diving and air consumption: Positive buoyancy at the surface

This is a huge issue and should have been stressed time and again on your initial dive course. In my experience, over 30% of all qualified (and experienced) divers we take diving are slightly out of breath before they start their first dive, especially when they have not dived recently! Think what this will do for air consumption on the dive.

Why is this the case? They are paddling, don’t have enough air in their BCD’s, are uncomfortable with the surface conditions etc. Basically, they forgot to trust and use their equipment. It’s not only air consumption at stake here.

A large percentage of all diving incidents occur on the surface, mostly through over exertion. A good way to overcome this is to hang about on the surface. Let the dive boat pick someone else up first after a dive whilst you float around. Have enough air in your BCD to lie back and stop kicking completely. If there is a short swim to the dive site, it is often easier to do this a couple of metres under the water than at the surface – especially in choppy conditions.

Believe me; if you can avoid getting even slightly out of breath you will save masses of air.

Sunday, 25 March 2007

Blow to Whale Conservation

The debate around whale conservation goes on and on. Most of us cannot understand that whaling can be justified on any level but of course life is not as simple as that. The politics of this global debate is extremely complex. Iceland made its position clear when stating its recent intent to resume commercial whaling by immediately slaughtering 3 fin whales (an endangered species). They intend to kill 6 more in addition to the 30 minke whales already taken.

Take a look at the Greenpeace whale tourism pledge – .

With the signatures already signed to this pledge, Greenpeace have calculated that the revenue to Iceland from whaling tourism could be worth over 10 times that of whaling slaughter.

What do you think? If you feel that Iceland’s decision to restart whaling is an unnecessary and backward step then let Iceland’s Prime Minister, Geir Haarde, know at

Friday, 23 March 2007

Part 2: A discussion on diving and air consumption: Comfort / skills

This is a fairly obvious place to start. Unless you are comfortable in the water and confident of your diving skills can you ever be relaxed enough to achieve optimum air consumption? Being relaxed (or able to be relaxed) is the key to everything I discuss below – the more relaxed and natural you are underwater the easier diving will become - it is a self fulfilling prophesy.

Do a deal with yourself – practice 1 thing you are uncomfortable with on every dive (yes, even mask clearing or removal!) until it becomes second nature. After that, don’t stop – do it because you enjoy it!

Increase your Dive Time on Fiji’s Stunning Reefs: a discussion on diving and air consumption: Part 1

Fiji’s reefs are known worldwide as being some of the richest in the world teeming with life and colour. For the purposes of this discussion, the key elements of this ‘life and colour’ are that they occur in tropical waters – generally warm and clear - and also at relatively shallow depths.

Yes, of course, Fiji has abyssal walls and drop offs and pelagic action to suit anyone’s taste but the fact of the matter is the most abundant life on coral reefs is at less than 20 metres. This is great news for those wishing to spend their time under water rather than sitting on the dive boat. We do not have the extreme physiological impact of cold water and rarely are dives limited by no-decompression times but rather by air consumption. Therefore there is a real opportunity to max out on your underwater time.

For many, however, short dives are the reality and there is the frustration of having to do your safety stop and end the dive whilst other divers are still enjoying being underwater with plenty of air still in the tank. Inevitably, when those other divers return to the boat they are asked ‘how do you do that – what is your secret’. This always prompts the macho ‘how much air do you have left’ discussion between everyone on the dive boat – (there obviously has to be some competitiveness to diving!) – But what are the underlying reasons for the disparities.

It is well documented that there are physiological differences between men and women! In terms of diving, women statistically fare better than men with regards to air consumption. Lung capacity is generally smaller as is muscle mass – both are air consumption relevant. It’s not a golden rule, but you can assume that someone 5 ft tall and 110 lbs will consume less air at rest than someone 6 foot 4 inches and weighing 200 lbs.

So, can we do something about our own air consumption underwater or do we have to put up with what we are given by nature? As a dive resort owner who has completed over 1500 dives in the last 5 years in Fiji (mostly as a guide or instructor) I have some personal opinions and observations on this subject. Some you may agree with – others not – let me know. Before I continue, let me state the obvious. All of us learned on our first ever dive course (whichever agency sanctioned) that it is essential we breathe continuously underwater. That is not to say that we might not pause now and again however breath holding, withholding breathing, skip breathing or whatever you want to call it can lead to serious problems.

See what you think of my 13 Part suggestions , try them out and then see if your breathing is even the real issue at stake.

Thursday, 22 March 2007

Rains helping cool Barrier Reef

Recent torrential rain and monsoons in northern Queensland have provided some rare relief for the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

The poor conditions have significantly reduced ocean temperatures, making them the coolest for up to five years.

It has been a blessing for the corals - usually in the summer they are at risk of serious scorching and bleaching.

The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest living organism, stretching over more than 345,000 sq km.

It is also the world's most protected marine area and has been under threat from a combination of global warming, pollution and over-fishing.

Read more at BBC

Tuesday, 13 March 2007

Tips for photographing Manta Rays

The Manta Ray dive site dive site visited from Matava Resort continues to amaze divers from novices to seasoned world travellers. Many have seen their first Manta's here and still have had their closest encounters. Despite having a 'dive of a lifetime' few however manage to come away with the 'shot of a lifetime'. Despite (or because of) their size, Mantas are a difficult subject - here are some tips to help capture that memorable image:-

1. You are going to need to be close. Mantas feed in plankton rich waters and cutting down the distance to you and your subject is essential. To achieve this you need to remain calm and still, perfect your buoyancy and certainly not chase your subject.

2. You have to have the right lens. Unless you want a close up of a Manta's eyeball, all that work in getting close will not pay off unless you have a wide angle lens (very wide). To get the best shots, you need to be able to fill the frame with a 5 metre Manta from about half that distance (15mm lens or less is ideal).

3. Practice composing your shots with a fixed subject before entering the water - also practice framing without the camera to your eye. Just reaching in front of you with your camera allows you to get a little closer without moving your bubbles closer. The aim is to fill the frame without cropping later on so you can maximise your image quality.

4. Consider shooting in natural light. Strobes often produce a 'stung' look from the Manta as they often flinch when a strobe fires. Our Mantas are generally at a depth of about 15 metres (45 - 50 feet). This is ideal for using something like a 'Magic Filter' which allows you to restore the natural colour balance of your photograph later on. You will of course also need to learn 'Photoshop' or equivalent as the filters work in conjunction with these programmes.

5. Take plenty of shots but don't forget to take in the Mantas beauty with your own eyes as well !

Friday, 9 March 2007

Richard and Joe

Richard and Joe
Originally uploaded by Aggibail.
Me an Joe hard at work and all fuzzy!

Cool Lionfish shot

lion fish
Originally uploaded by ChrisNclick.
Chris took this in kadavu. Well lit and well cropped.

Fiji Travel Guide - Scuba Diving Magazine

Fiji Travel Guide - Scuba Diving Magazine

November 2002

The airport resonated with a serenade, strummed by Fijians with ukuleles and guitars, with the verse "bula, ni sa bula," which means "good morning and good health." Bula is the universal Fijian greeting. After a few days diving in this tropical land, I found myself saying it to everyone from divemasters and fellow travelers to village children.

"Bula," the children would say shyly and then gawk.

"Booolah," I'd reply and they'd erupt in laughter.

It's the sort of phrase that lets you know, from the minute you step into the humid airport to claim your dive gear, that you are among the friendliest people in the Pacific, if not the world.

3) GREAT ASTROLABE REEF AT KADAVU. Along Kadavu's northern rim, the Astrolabe barrier reef has several sites. Reefs, large walls and ravines, are populated with tiera batfish, Maori wrasse, flame hawkfish, citrus gobies, canary blennies and the occasional rainbow runner, yellowfin tuna and wahoo.
30 to 90 feet.
Novice to intermediate.

Read full Guide here: Fiji Travel Guide - Scuba Diving Magazine

Monday, 5 March 2007

Guest photos now on Flickr

my first manta ray
Originally uploaded by digitalia.
Hey you can blog straight from within Flickr!

"my first manta ray

Astrid just sent me photos from my last dive in Fiji, soon after doing my open water course, when we saw manta rays, and she took me through my first cave.

(photo by Astrid, I was too busy gasping through a regulator)"

Uploaded by digitalia on 22 Jun '06, 5.23am FJT.

Friday, 2 March 2007

Matava Flickr Photo Group now LIVE

At long last after many requests from past guests we have managed to get a place where we can all share photos from Matava.

As many of you know we have very limited communications out in the resort in Kadavu. In fact if we even have phone lines that we can speak on we are grateful. The internet connection is a very ropey dial-up where we get an average of 9kbps if we're lucky.

Therefore when kind hearted guests send us photos by email, we unfortunately spend hours shouting and swearing (who us?) and trying to remove these 2MB attachments form our servers before picking up email, and/or the line dropping out.

SO... we have found a solution where we can see and share everyone's photos and still remain sane on our dial-up connection.

Cruise on over to, (join up and get your free Yahoo! name if you don't have one already) and then post pictures and join our group:

We hope to see your photos up there soon guys. (send us a small email to say you've joined and we'll surf over and have a look)

Matava Resort helps with Fiji Fish ID DVD

Fresh from their time as cruise directors aboard the Nai'a liveaboard Josh and Liz of headed to Matava to put the finishing touches to their soon to be published definitive fish ID DVD of the Fiji Islands. We'll let you know as soon as it is available and where to purchase a copy. Additions to the DVD filmed whilst diving the Great Astrolabe Reef from Matava are:-

Additional species:-
Painted anthias - Pseudanthias pictilis (male)
Painted anthias - Pseudanthias pictilis (female)
Flame angelfish - Centropyge loricula
Bulbnose unicornfish - Naso tonganus
Scott's wrasse - Cirrhilabrus scottorum (male)
Scott's wrasse - Cirrhilabrus scottorum (female)
Fourspot butterflyfish - Chaetodon quadrimaculatus
Fourstripe wrasse - Pseudocheilinus tetrataenia
Orangelined nudibranch - Gymnodoris striata
Spinner dolphin - Stenella longirostris

Addidtional juvenile/female/male
Peacock razorfish - Iniistius pavo (juvenile)
Palebarred coris - Coris dorsomacula (male)
Short-tail bristletooth - Ctenochaetus cyanocheilus (juvenile)
Gilded triggerfish - Xanthichthys auromarginatus (female)
Leopard coralgrouper - Plectropomus leopardus (juvenile)
Camouflage grouper - Epinephelus polyphekadion (juvenile)
Filament-finned parrotfish - Scarus altipinnis(juvenile)

Whitespot hawkfish - Paracirrhites hemistictus
Crown-of-thorns cardinalfish - Siphamia fuscolineata

Better shots replacing originals
Gilded triggerfish - Xanthichthys auromarginatus (male)
Whitespotted surgeonfish - Acanthurus guttatus
Pennant bannerfish - Heniochus chrysostomus (juvenile)

Describe a shark !

The current campaign form the 'Shark Trust' asks the following question:-

Sexy ?
Graceful ?
Threatened ?

It makes you think doesn't it? Find out more at

Asia-Pacific Coral Reef Program

Papua New Guinea, Fiji, and Indonesia : Asia-Pacific Coral Reef Program

Coral reefs of the Asia-Pacific region contain the most diverse concentrations of life on the planet. Indonesia and Papua New Guinea form two sides of the renowned diversity hotspot know as the “coral triangle,” while Fiji, diverse in its own right, is famous for its spectacularly colorful coral communities and array of endemic species. WCS operates a marine project in each of these countries, integrating ecological and socioeconomic research to provide novel approaches to conservation and management while meeting community needs.

The Human Aspect
The majority of coastal communities throughout Indonesia, PNG, and Fiji rely heavily upon marine resources for sustenance and income. With coastal populations rapidly expanding, and a move towards more modern, efficient and damaging fishing methods, many reefs in the Asia-Pacific region are facing threats of overexploitation and destruction. This in turn is affecting the livelihoods of the communities that are so heavily dependent upon the marine environment. Achieving marine conservation in the region requires finding a balance between conserving biological wealth and maintaining the livelihoods of the communities dependent upon the marine environments.

The most significant threats facing coral reefs in this region are overfishing, destructive fishing practices, and coral bleaching. The generally long life spans of targeted reef species, as well as the relatively low productivity of reef ecosystems, makes reef fishery stocks particularly susceptible to overfishing. Furthermore, a number of fishing methods commonly employed in the region, including dynamite and cyanide fishing and the use of monofilament nets, not only deplete fisheries stocks at an alarming rate, but also damage or destroy essential reef habitats. The bleaching of corals from elevated sea temperatures is also significantly changing reef habitats, and the long-term impacts of this phenomenon are still largely unknown.

WCS Activities
WCS uses an integrated natural and social science approach to identify which types of management are successful in maintaining or improving reef ecosystem condition and which socioeconomic factors are responsible for this success. So far, WCS has found that management systems that are most responsive to the needs and priorities of local communities achieve the best compliance with management regulations and subsequently achieve the greatest conservation success. WCS is now beginning to implement identified successful management strategies in receptive communities. In PNG and Fiji, existing systems of customary marine tenure (community ownership of reefs) will be used as an avenue to implement and enforce management strategies, while in Indonesia, alternative systems of management will be implemented and tested within the framework of national park zoning plans.

The long-term success of conservation strategies in the region will also rely heavily upon a strong local scientific staff to implement, monitor, and adapt management strategies. One of the major objectives of this program is to build the capacity of young local marine scientists to carry out research and monitoring within each country. WCS’ activities to achieve this objective include marine training courses, supervision of postgraduate projects, and one-on-one mentoring of interns working with the program. It is hoped that through these activities, WCS can build a strong local scientific contingent to continue conservation efforts in the Asia-Pacific region well into the future.

Important Next Steps

  • Continue to identify the most effective management strategies.
  • Develop optimal management strategies tailored to local social, cultural, and economic conditions.
  • Implement optimal management strategies in receptive communities as part of a locally managed marine area network.
  • Monitor, evaluate, and adapt management strategies to ensure their long-term effectiveness.
  • Train young scientists, conservation practitioners, and managers to be able to implement and adapt management strategies and to train others in marine research and monitoring techniques.

Thursday, 1 March 2007

Diving with Diabetes

Despite being considered incompatible with diving there are many seasoned divers who have learned to manage this condition and how it relates to their diving. Their doctors are also prepared to declare them medically fit for diving. Other physicians are reluctant to do so. Should diabetes stop someone diving or learning to dive?

We at Matava Resort have faced this question and dilemma a few times and when we have consulted have faced a diversity of opinion. Dr. Simon Mitchell has tacked this issue in a recent article in 'Sport Diving' magazine in his regular 'Diving Medicine' column. It is a well informed starting point for those wishing to explore the issues for themselves with valuable reference and follow up ideas.

Check it out at
'Sport Diving' magazine

Lawsuit Filed to Protect World's Most Endangered Whale

From: SCUBA Diving News

The Center for Biological Diversity has filed a lawsuit to compel the Bush administration to protect the North Pacific Right Whale under the federal Endangered Species Act. The US Department of the Interior has proposed opening up areas in the Bering Sea frequented by the species to offshore oil development. Additionally, President Bush is considering lifting the presidential withdrawal that currently prohibits such development.

The North Pacific Right Whale (Eubalaena japonica), once ranging from Baja California to Alaska, is the most endangered large whale in the world, with perhaps as few as 100 individuals remaining. Devastated by commercial whaling, North Pacific Right Whales now face the threat of oil and gas development in their critical habitat.