The most recent count was done in Pacific Harbour by the Beqa Shark Divers.
Speaker:Nanise Ledua, Beqa Shark Divers, Fiji
LEDUA: We are dive operators, specialise on shark dives and to express of that we try to educate people regarding these animals that they are not dangerous and the other thing is that most people love of these animals, they want to know more about these animals, so we do the research and scientific datas onto that to collect the population of about 50 and that's why we are so much interested in conducting a great Fiji shark count. This is why to see what is the populations of the sharks at the moment. And on top of that, these are the key factors of the marine eco-system.
COUTTS: Now did you do this also because you'd noticed over the time that you think that there were fewer shark numbers when you go out to do these tourist dives?
LEDUA: Well, I will refer on doing of shark tours, because these animals they have like a mating and everything like that. Yes, sometimes the populations of the sharks at our dive decreases and sometimes they increases during the birthing, so we really want to know the exact, not only the population but how these animals do their mating and stuff like that, but yes, compared to the people, comparison to the community around. They see that the number of sharks has been declined compared to the past year.
COUTTS: Well, how do you carry out Nanise, the shark census? How do you go about counting them?
LEDUA: Well, we have certain months, like from April to November, these are the two months that we put aside to observe this and during all our dives, the shark dive or the shark coral dive every time we go out during these months, we will have all the divers have to participate and see what is there any sharks during the dive and we will have help them identify the species and from there, total number of divers, plus whatever species that is what we get to collect every time we go out diving.
COUTTS: How will you know if you've counted a shark twice?
LEDUA: That is a good question, but on our shark dives, because we've been running this from 2004 to onwards and we worked with our scientific. We name the sharks, we know the territories of the sharks, we identify them and we name them. So by then, we are not recounting the same sharks all over again. But on our soft coral dive, we can only see like three sharks during the dive, so it's not a recounting and it's a different species. Sharks are different and identical, so we will take new sharks which is black tip and one white tip, because that's they're characters and the species.
COUTTS: Fiji hasn't got a shark sanctuary. Do you think it should?
LEDUA: Well, I cannot say anything on that, but in general terms from my view, I think Fiji should have because of the tourists arriving in Fiji and most of them participate on our diving, so for the health of the industry I would say yes Fiji should have one. That is my opinion onto that. THe reef shark count is totally different from the shark compaign, they are not collaborating together. I will say from my own view, yes, Fiji should have a shark sanctuary.
COUTTS: Now, once you've finished conducting your club and all the other clubs around Fiji have finished conducting this shark census, you're going to send the results to the United States to be analysed. Why do they have to go to the US?
LEDUA: Well, because we do have NGOs which support our plight, Shark Savers, Save Our Seas, and Shark Foundation, because of the specialities and the equipment they have. Fiji doesn't have that, so that's why we work with them to get the data from them.