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Shark Dive

“Tiger Shark Cathedral”

There are only a couple of places on this planet where you can dive with the “Sea Tiger” eye to eye, up close and personal - one of these sites is Cathedral, Beqa Lagoon Resort’s own Tiger Shark dive.

Cathedral is a once in a lifetime experience - multiple shark species in clear water, just a 15 minute boat ride from our resort.

Enjoy diving with multiple Tiger Sharks at a time - the biggest predator of tropical seas - experience big sharks so close you could touch them …

A dive you will mark in your logbook as the best there can be :-)

Site Development

About 18 months ago we came up with the idea to develop our own shark dive - we wanted to develop a site closer to Beqa Lagoon Resort and less dependent on tides and rain than the other sites, and in clearer water.

Our dive guides, knowing Beqa Lagoon for over 2 decades proposed a couple of sites where they had the most shark encounters during dives - most sites were close to Nanuku Island, a small island with a fringing reef, north-east of Beqa Lagoon Resort.

Most of these locations proved troublesome to reach, due to waves and currents - one, however, seemed to be almost perfect - protected from waves and with moderate to no current - we chose to try this site close to Soft Coral Plateau, only 15 minutes by boat from our resort.

We collected dead coral blocks and built a wall on the sandy plateau in about 65ft/20m depth in order for our guest to remain in one place, be protected and prevent damage to the reef.

We’ve built and sank several concrete blocks for moorings and ascend/descend lines.

Shark Sightings

When we first started Cathedral, we had almost no sharks - the sharks that would frequent the site were mainly reef sharks.

It became more exciting once we suddenly had the visitors we’d hoped for - Bull Sharks started to join the crowd of the usual reef sharks.

Then it happened - we got a new guest - our first tiger shark - a big female.

All very exciting, but not on regular basis - some days without any sharks, others days with Lemon, Reef, Bull and Tiger Sharks.

It seemed our shark site procedures had to be improved - we changed our ways in April 2015 and then lucky us, sharks were visiting on a regular basis :-)

To our surprise, we were getting more and more tiger sharks at the site - by July 2015 we had already counted at least 13 individuals from 4ft./1.2m to 12 ft/3.7m - by now our count is around 20 :-) - we have 2 boys, a pregnant female and several baby tigers - the sweetest is only about 4ft/1.2m - very cuddly :-)

Since the end of July 2015 we’ve had 2 or more tiger sharks on every dive - the most was 8 tigers - an experience so impressive - hard to put in words …

Diving at Cathedral

We have named the site Cathedral, deriving from the Greek word kathedra (καθέδρα), meaning seat, bench, base.

Beqa Lagoon’s base for shark diving :-)

The dive is currently available Monday/Wednesday/Friday plus special requests. The two tank dive starts 8:00 AM and ends shortly before lunch at a cost of USD150.00. The use of NITROX is recommended.

Minimum requirement for all certified divers is 30 logged dives. Private DMs and dive instructors are available for a fee of USD 30.00 for divers with less experience than required.

Video cameras are available at our dive shop for rent.

Dive Briefing

It is about a 15 minute boat ride to Cathedral where we’ll moor at one of the buoys we’ve prepared.

Our dive crew will review the safety rules that you learned during the shark and site briefing the evening before and off you go either freely descending along the reef contour, or along one of our ascend/descend lines - directly down to our “stone wall”. Your dive guide will show you where to settle down.

To make your shark experience as safe as possible you will find guards on either side of the stone wall and behind you - our guards carry long sticks with rounded ends, almost like a spoon, just in case we have to direct sharks away.

Now comes the part where we put some fish loins and bones in the water to attract the sharks to come a little closer. We then fill a big box with fish and lock it. The box is nicely rounded so that the sharks do not hurt themselves when rubbing on the box.

Now the sharks can see and more importantly smell the food - small fish that fits through the bars of the box will feed and attract the sharks.

Finally the sharks will try to get their snacks from the box - and they can be quite creative :-)

All this action while you are sitting at a safe distance, 5-6 meters/16 to 18 feet from our feeding bin behind our guarded stone wall.

From time to time, one of our feeders will take a fish head (big tuna heads) and lay them out in the space between the feeding bin and stone wall - sharks are our friends - we do not want to frustrate them, which is why we make sure they find some “candy” from time to time.

By the end of our bottom time we slowly make it back to the reef and ascend - the reef top, close to the mooring is about 5 meters/15 feet deep and ideal for a safety stop - one with lots of small fish, sometimes turtles swimming by and napoleons cruising through the clear, blue water.

The dive is 65 feet/20 meters deep and the average dive time, due to depth and being a double tank dive, is around 30 minutes - which is why we recommend NITROX for safety

On this dive you will have the chance to see - Tiger Sharks (that was easy to guess :-)) - Bull Sharks - Lemon Sharks - Nurse Sharks - Grey Reef Sharks - White Tip Reef Sharks - Black Tip Reef Sharks - plus a couple of thousand (no exaggeration) small to mid-sized fishes - rainbow runners, napoleon wrasses, remoras, triggers, red snappers to just name a few.

As we are dealing with nature - species and amount of fish you may see, will vary.

ECO Tourism

To share in the possible success of our shark dive, we have invited the three Beqa villages that have fishing rights in the area, to discuss a possible protection of the site.

As of now the area is protected as “Beqa Lagoon Resort Protected Area” and fishing at the site is prohibited.

Beqa Lagoon Resort pays a set amount to the villages for each diver participating in our shark experience. This disbursement provides compensation to the villages for loss of income due to non-fishing in the protected areas.

Minimum requirement for all certified divers is 30 logged dives. Private DMs and dive instructors are available for a fee of USD 30.00 for divers with less experience than required.

Feeding Considerations

Feeding wild animals is a very controversial topic.

Do we alter the sharks’ behavior? Should we feed at all? - Valid questions …

And we feel the right answer is “Yes, we should, in order to make people more aware of sharks”

Our experience and daily interaction with divers shows that feeding is the right thing to do - we attract sharks with food to visit our site and stay in order to see them close up, this proximity makes it possible for every diver to study their behavior their every movement - we provide first hand education to shark behavior, the basis to de-mystification of sharks. Our divers personally experience how considerate and careful sharks are - far from being senseless killers.

Experiencing promotes understanding - every diver that visits this site takes home an experience that renders him or her as a shark ambassador - an urgently needed protector of these wonderful animals.

As a side effect, we have learned that feeding sharks in the same location attracts lots of other species of fish, which benefits reef and coral growth.

When it comes to feeding sharks, we are different than other diver operations - we do NOT feed the sharks by hand and we keep the amount of food to a minimum.

Our feeding method is the most “natural” way of attracting sharks to the site - we simulate carcass feeding - a natural occurrence.

Sharks are “cleaning” reefs and sea from dead fish and mammals - feeding on carcasses is a natural shark behavior.

Diving Cathedral, is a “soft” shark feeding - no direct human-shark interaction, no circus tricks, etc. - just watching and learning about our majestic sharks up close and personal with memories to last a lifetime.

Education & Conservation

We feel that more is better, which is why we have extended our team by one of the most iconic figures in the shark world, Erich Ritter PhD, who is kind enough to supervise our shark conservation efforts and conduct Shark School Fiji, a yearly event, for the first time June 4 - 11, 2016 at Beqa Lagoon Resort.

Learn more about our upcoming event, Shark School Fiji, and shark pope Erich Ritter PhD on our website - www.beqalagoonresort.com.

We are further preparing a shark conservation project with the University of the South Pacific

We felt the need to do more research of our own, and are currently in the process of hiring a marine biologist, who’s duty will be to catalog our sharks and create a database, which we’ll share publicly.

We are hoping to get many more sharks to Cathedral.

Shark Education &Kids

Beqa Lagoon Resort is home to Kids Sea Camp, holidays for the whole family.

Last July and August we provided shark education for the very first time for parents and kids alike - After a thorough theory segment about sharks and shark behavior, by our GM Dieter Kudler (who ran his own shark dive for almost 10 years), we dove with our Kids Sea Camp guests from age 12 to 80+.

We drove divers to Cathedral, we brought them back to the resort as shark enthusiasts - we then expanded our Cathedral dive to 4 days a week tiger shark diving.

It was an amazing and extremely fulfilling experience - kids talking about nothing but sharks, adults with big smiles sharing their thrilling shark videos and photos - guests thanking us for the best dive in their lives.

This experience was so rewarding that we have decided to take the program a step further - bringing “the man” to Fiji - Erich Ritter PhD will run the program and has developed special children’s materials - so no matter if you are 5 or 100 years of age - if you like sharks, you should not miss this event.

Kids Shark School Fiji will take place between July 23 and August 6, 2016 at Beqa Lagoon Resort - this event may be booked through Beqa Lagoon Resort or through Kids Sea Camp.

Diving Dive Team