Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Amphiprion pacificus, a new species of clownfish discovered in Fiji

Underwater photos of Amphiprion pacificus, adult, approximately 60 mm SL, Fiji. Photo by J. Jensen

Amphiprion pacificus is a new species of anemonefish discovered by Gerald R. Allen, Joshua Drew and Douglas Fenner described in the latest issue of the Aqua, the International Journal of Ichthyology. The researchers discovered A. pacificus in the Wallis Island and Tonga in the western Pacific with other underwater photographs revealing its presence on coral reefs of Fiji and Samoa.

The team notes the new taxon is nearly identical in appearance to A. akallopisos from the Indian Ocean. The two share common characteristics — typically pinkish-brown and grading to orange or yellow on the lower portion of the head and side, with a similar white stripe extending from the head along the dorsal midline ending at the caudal fin. Genetic testing does reveal show A. pacificus is more closely related to A. sandaracinos (Orange Skunk Clownfish) hailing from the Western Australia and Indo-Malayan region. The physical differences between the common orange skunk differs from A. pacificus with its more uniform orange coloration and the white forehead stripe extends onto the upper lip. The team also noticed what appears to be differences in the number of soft dorsal and anal rays on each species.

If you’re interesting in reading the entire paper, you can purchase it online in PDF format from Aqua.

Amphiprion pacificus, a new species of clownfish discovered in Fiji

Scuba Diving Fiji

Monday, 26 July 2010

Divers and Dental Professionals Combine Work and Passion for Scuba Diving Through Fiji Project

By Mark Fischer
Owner, HydroSports Dive and Travel

Most people think of Fiji as an island paradise. But four airports, three types of aircraft, 19 time zones and 30 travel-hours from HydroSports (Keizer, Oregon) is the village of Kadavu Koro. Remote by both distance and time villagers have almost no access to medical or dental care. Located on the Island of Kadavu, Kaduva Koro is home to about 300 people.

I have visited Fiji 12 times over the past 10 years. Last October I stayed at the Waidroka Bay Resort on the big island, Viti Levu. Waidroka Bay, a beautiful resort with all the amenities, is closely connected to a local village. During my stay I was able to visit the village and local primary and secondary schools and received an education about the availability of health care at the village level. What I learned was that while care is readily available in cities, at the village level, care is scarce.

Returning from that trip I decided to pioneer a Dental Mission. I partnered with Coach Ramey Stroud, a Mill City diver, and Stuart Gow, Director of the Matava Eco-Resort on the island of Kadavu. Together we identified dates for our trip, solicited the cooperation of Air Pacific, the national airline of Fiji, the Fiji Islands Hotel and Tourism Association and the Fiji Ministry of Health. Salem Hospital generously shared information about our trip with their staff.

I traveled with Dr. Mike and Mrs. Carrie Litchfield and Dr. Sean Hanson of Salem and Jim and Gina Jepsen from Ione, Oregon. Dave Beard from Tasmania met us at Matava and joined our team.

Air Pacific allowed us each to bring an extra 50 pounds of medical gear. Mike and Sean had received hundreds of toothbrushes, toothpaste samples and dental supplies from their suppliers. Mike brought a portable dental station as well.

Our arrival at Matava was met with excitement. Maggie, the Fijian concierge, let us know that he had shared the news of the American dentists arriving three weeks earlier with the village council. He had made arrangements for us to visit the village the next day to meet with the Chief, the Director of the School (whose classroom’s we planned to use for the clinic) and the village nurse (representative of the Ministry of Health). We took an open boat to the village, walked past sleeping dogs, feeding chickens, children playing, men unloading cinderblocks and women washing clothes.

We sat on the floor of the Chief’s home. Maggie and the chief chatted, laughed, gestured at me and Sean. The Chief spoke firmly. Maggie stood up and gestured to us. We stood as well. “We must now visit with the Director of the School” Maggie said.

Again we sat on the floor, laughter, gestures and quizzical looks. Maggie stood. We stood. “We need to speak with the nurse now” Maggie told us.

Walking uphill toward the rain forest we stopped outside the nurse’s home. We learned that the village nurse is the representative of the Ministry of Health and has significant power in the community. Speaking directly to us, she expressed concern that she had not been notified by the government of our mission. I assured her that all forms requested, dental licenses, diplomas and work history information had been sent to the Ministry offices in Suva, the capitol. A smile! She shook our hands and told us we were welcome to provide dental care for her community.

As we walked back to the boat, Maggie explained that even though the resort and village know that American Dentists were coming, culturally, it was necessary for us to personally visit and request permission to provide free dental care for the community.

Our plan was pretty simple; breakfast, a two tank dive then lunch. We opened the clinic at 1:30 and treated patients until dark. Power in the classroom was limited to a single neon lamp powered by a new generator. We had come equipped with flashlights for diving and lighting up teeth.

Each afternoon the number of patients grew as word of our clinic spread. The third day we planned to hold an instructional clinic for the village children to share toothbrushes and toothpaste. Carrie Litchfield, an elementary school librarian in Salem was our point person. Using humor, laughter and smiles, Carrie warmed up the kids, taught basic oral hygiene and brushing technique and passed out over 200 toothbrushes and tubes of toothpaste.

We knew that dental care in the village was extremely limited. We learned that a boat ride to Vunisea, location of the regional hospital an hour away, has a cost of nearly a week's wages each way.

During our stay we had the opportunity to serve nearly 200 villagers from Kadavu Koro. Carrie taught 75 children how to brush their teeth. Numerous rotted, damaged and decayed teeth were removed, mostly from adults, a few from children.

We met many wonderful people during our visit to Kadavu Koro and our stay at the Matava Eco-Resort. We dove the Great Astrolabe Reef most mornings and provided dental care in the afternoon. Our Mission provided an opportunity to provide care for those in need and an education about preserving one's teeth to the children of the village.

I'm not fully back from Fiji; I keep asking myself what I would be doing 19 hours from now if I was in Kadavu Koro.

I plan to return to Fiji next year with dentists, optometrists, doctors and nurses to continue the tradition of combining compassion and passion. Care to join me?

Comments from Mike, Carrie, Sean, Gina and Jim can be found at: www.hydrosports.com/MatavaMemories.html

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

August Special: Pay 4: Stay 6

August Special

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FIJI SCUBA DIVING - Dive the best of Fiji Diving with Mad Fish Dive Centre, Kadavu, Fiji Islands

Friday, 16 July 2010

Fiji…: Undercurrent 04/2010

Debbie Pasich (San Diego, CA) dived the Astrolabe Reef with Mad Fish Dive Center at Matava Resort in November. “Dive sites were anywhere from a 10- to 30-minute ride and surface intervals. Outside the reef there was always an ocean swell, between two and three feet. Inside the reef was calm but because the weather was unseasonably windy, we usually had some surface chop. I dove Manta Reef twice, with no less than ten mantas total. At Eagle’s Rock, at least 25 white-tip, black-tip and gray reef sharks of various sizes were schooling together in the reef inlet. Japanese Gardens had a beautiful assortment of soft corals. Besides the largest variety of butterfly fish I’ve ever seen, I saw a dolphin, a Napoleon wrasse, a sea snake, several lionfish, octopus, turtles, giant clams, eels, clownfish and stunning nudibranchs. With traditional thatched bures tucked into the mountainside of Kadavu Island, Matava is a beautiful place to get away from it all.

The newest (honeymoon) bure at the top of the hill (94 stairs of various sizes to climb) has an absolutely spectacular view. It’s an eco-resort and a majority of the power is supplied by solar so leave your hairdryer at home. Maggie, the resort host, has a unique style of hospitality and makes sure that you feel welcome. All the homemade breads were terrific. Lunches were varied and dinners ranged from satisfactory to quite good with excellent flavors. Soups were extraordinary. This close to New Zealand you will likely be served lamb for at least one dinner.” (www.matava.com).

Fiji…: Undercurrent 04/2010

Saturday, 10 July 2010

The Drop Zone Fiji - Sportdiver.com

The Drop Zone is the ultimate dive and surf film which follows professional surfers on the adventure of a lifetime. Alex Gray, Cheyne Magnusson and Holly Beck headed to Tahiti in 2008 for an epic adventure – The Drop Zone Tahiti. Now the three young surfers are back and will be joined by two more - Maria Gonzalez and Bede Durbidge. The five of them will explore Fiji on a unique journey both above and below the surface.

Follow Holly, Alex, Cheyne, Maria and Bede – check out the Drop Zone Fiji blog and photos live from Fiji!

HollyBeck DropZone

Holly Beck Palos Verdes, California, USA
Holly is a former National Scholastic Surfing Association champ and is known for appearances on television shows such as North Shore Boardinghouse and The Best Damn Sports Show. She spends a lot of time down at her house in Nicaragua and is epic on keeping the world up to date on her travels. Holly Beck is not only one of the best female surfers on the planet but she is also a world traveler, actress, and a person who can definitely capture the world in film, photos and in print.
Holly's Drop Zone Fiji Blog

Alex Gray Rancho Palos Verdes, California, USA
Alex Gray is one of the most unique people on the planet. He is a pro surfer, world traveler, comedian, ladies man, yoga god, paddler, and inspiration to many. He grew up in the South Bay of Los Angeles and still loves to come home and spend time with his family after long trips around the world. This is his second appearance in Drop Zone.
Alex's Drop Zone Fiji Blog

AlexGray DropZone
CheyneMagnusson DropZone

Cheyne Magnusson Lahaina, Maui but currently in Oceanside, California, USA
Cheyne is not your typical pro surfer from Maui. He looks a little different and also lives a little different. He may rip like the rest of the upcoming crew that dominate Honolua Bay but he also tears it up on any skate ramp, had a big role in the Lords of Dogtown movie, free dives like a fish, enjoys a good party and was a high profile member of a MTV reality show.
Cheyne's Drop Zone Fiji Blog

Maria Gonzalez Puerto Rico
Body Glove's newest Team Member. More about Maria coming soon.

Maria's Drop Zone Fiji Blog

MariaGonzalez DropZone

Bede Durbidge Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Bede grew up on North Stradbroke Island, a small island off the coast of Queensland, Australia and moved to the Gold Coast when he was 20. He is in his sixth year on the Men's Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Tour and is currently ranked number three in the world. To date, Bede has won a total of three ASP events and the Vans Triple Crown and he is still striving to achieve his dream of winning a World Title!
Bede's Drop Zone Fiji Blog

Photo credit [top to bottom] (Holly, Alex, Cheyne) Courtesy of PADI Americas and Body Glove; Photographer Justin Lewis, (Maria) Courtesy of Body Glove; Photographer: Mark Kawakami, (Bede) Courtesy of Bede Durbidge; Photographer Adam Weathered.

The Drop Zone Fiji - Sportdiver.com: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"