project news

Volunteers swim with grey reef sharks in Fiji!

News item submitted by Frontier
News item dated 5 Mar 2010


As the first phase of research draws to a close, our volunteers in Fiji experienced a once in a lifetime opportunity to dive with some thirty or forty grey reef sharks around the pristine, unexplored reefs of Nigali Bay. The large concentration of sharks in the area makes Nigali one of the best dive sites in the world. However, it is several hours journey time from base camp and highly remote too, making it difficult to access on a regular basis. After many weeks of dedicated data collection, the team decided to brave the challenges in accessing the area to monitor the reef shark population and enjoy some top quality diving to boot! 

Grey Reef Sharks (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos) are one of the most common reef sharks in the Indo-Pacific; however, populations around Gau are thought to have declined dramatically in recent years and reasons for this are still unclear. Although the species is still considered ‘common’ in comparison to other sharks, they are often caught by fisheries and their low reproduction rate and limited dispersal means their populations are volatile and susceptible to local depletion. What’s more, grey reef sharks are top-level predators, feeding primarily on free-swimming bony fishes and cephalopods. Therefore, changes in the shark population are highly likely to significantly affect the feeding relationships within the immediate food web and thus the viability of the ecosystems in which they occur. The Frontier-Fiji team are investigating ways to monitor the reef sharks on a more regular basis in order to better understand the causes of decline and hopefully implement a management strategy to allow their numbers to recover. The recent trip to Nigali provided staff with a chance to test and improve current monitoring methods, which we hope will begin an exciting new research into the decline of this fascinating species.

Priscilla Corbett

Read more about our Fiji Marine Conservation & Diving