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Published: April 29th 2012
All cruises are famous for the food- no less this one. Glad to say we managed to eat and drink a lot in the seven days. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. The food was good. Now we're back in NZ and eating much less!
Each day we had an itinerary crated by the hospitality manager, Florian. Usually a visit to the beach to swim, snorkel and laze around and some sort of cultural visit as well. At night the entertainment was always singing and sometimes the Meke, singing and dancing.
The first place we went to to practice snorkelling was a cay- literally a small area of gorgeous sand temporarily out of the water for a few hours before the high tide covered it up. There was quite a swell, and, not being used to donning the flippers and mask, a real challenge for a first attempt, but beautiful. The beaches and lagoons that followed had much calmer seas to swim and snorkel in. Most amazing was snorkelling from the tender boat. Putting on the gear and jumping from the boat you could then snorkel. The reef and fishes and star fish were unbelievable!! We didn't have an underwater camera
so the pictures are locked in the memory.
Noah! the ship's marine biologist told us all about the coral- the polyps are marine animals and the coral is the polyps exoskeleton. When you're up close to coral you see different types of exoskeleton then the polyps come out to catch their food, Although corals can catch small fish and plankton, using stinging cells on their tentacles, most corals obtain the majority of their energy and nutrients from photosynthetic unicellular algae called zooxanthellae that live within the coral's tissue. Such corals require sunlight and grow in clear, shallow water, typically at depths shallower than 60 metres (200 ft). Corals can be major contributors to the physical structure of the coral reefs that develop in tropical and subtropical waters, such as the enormous Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Queensland, Australia and the reefs of Fiji. We were shown the different forms coral can take, such as slipper, brain, mushroom, table and digital (looks like fingers).
The reef is endangered in Fiji from overfishing. The government in association with the landowners (there's not a part of Fiji that is not owned by somebody) have a fishing exclusion zone where fish that
These little critters were all over the beach
support the reef must not be caught. Crown of thorn starfish which also eat the coral are captured by hand and buried (every time the tender boat went out they were hunting these starfish) The fish that eat the Crown of thorn starfish are not plentiful due to the overfishing. The fishermen and ordinary Fijians are beginning to recognise the need to build the ecosystem. However, it is a 30 mile exclusion zone and this is difficult to patrol.
Most of the tourists on board were Australian or New Zealanders. Coming to Fiji for them is like British people heading to Spain. Strangely there was no one else from Scotland!! We had lots of opportunity to be sociable. Each night we moved tables for dinner and talked to lots of different folk. By the end of the trip we all felt like one happy family. As the traditional Fijian farewell song was sung by the crew everyone felt emotional. We won't forget it.
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