Called the best shark dive in the World, this little dive shop in Pacific Harbour in Fiji is absolutely booked up with keen divers and shark enthusiasts wanting to catch a glimpse of some sharks and they are left by no means disappointed.
Blacktip and Whitetip Reef Sharks, Grey Reef Sharks, Silvertips, Tawny Nurse Sharks, Sicklefin Sharks and of course the stars of the show the Bull Sharks and infamous Tiger Shark. All of his can be seen as well as over 400 species of reef fish, all on the same dive, it’s incredible!
Stopping over at Uprising Resort for several nights, eager to head out to the reef to meet the supposed masses of local sharks was fantastically exciting. The hotel was full of people from all over the World who had come together in this special place for this dive and the atmosphere was buzzing.
Few animals are as terrifying to humans as sharks. Sharp toothed, quick swimming predators have haunted the dreams of nervous beach goers for years, especially after classic films like Jaws were released. Statistically sharks pose very little threat to humans and Beqa is in the business of changing those stereotypical views and allowing people the opportunity to see them for what they really are. It is particularly easy for people to jump to conclusions about the nature of sharks and Beqa is motivated by displaying scientific evidence about them rather than myth.
The crew at Beqa have worked closely with the Fijian Government and the traditional owners of Shark Reef to have it designated as a protected marine park and reserve and the holistic conservation project has been recognised as one of the World’s best shark dives and hailed for its sustainable and efficient eco-tourism.
The ongoing research that goes on at Beqa with its international team of scientists works hard to monitor the shark population and record insights into the life of free roaming shark species. 30 nautical miles have been closed off to fisherman with Beqa entrusted to manage the area and develop it, which it is achieving more and more everyday and enforcing. The most incredible thing about this company is that it is not a dive operator running shark dives, it is a marine conservation project that includes shark dives for the public. Its aim is science and education. These guys are all about contributing to Fiji and protecting this area and its inhabitants. It is not a case of abusing a tourist industry, all staff other than the Directors are Fijian and are hugely knowlidigbile and this was always intended.
The attention to detail regards safety was noticeable from the moment we stepped in the dive shop. Equipment checked, thourough breifings given, action plans made, emergency procedures run over. There was at no point a time when my Photographer, Radoslaw Krol and I felt unsafe and we both commented on how exceptional this was.
I was overwhelmed by the whole experience. I have dived with sharks many times before but this just felt like a complete step up in experience. It was a complete adrenaline junkie activity but it also felt very peaceful and calm and at times during the dives I got completely lost in my own world and couldn’t believe how beautiful the sharks were, gliding passed me elegantly. These apex predators are incredibly graceful and at times I was so close that I felt the flick of their fins disturb the water near me. It’s the closet you can ever get in a non invasive and safe way and really I was desperate to thank the crew. I came away feeling blessed and in awe of these natural wonders.
There is always a huge amount of controversy around shark diving but really you have to go and see the execution of the dives to be able to comment on this. The quality of this one was far beyond what I expected or what I have seen before. The passion of everyone there is to show people how important sharks are and they were extremely strict about the rules of the dives and tolerate nothing less than the high standards they have put in place. The dives were an experience like no other and I will remember how I felt on them for ever.
Massive thumbs up from us at The Scuba News UK.
Learn more at: http://fijisharkdive.com/
Photography by Radoslaw Krol