So, my youngest daughter Trinity Conn has landed in Fiji for a Shark Studies program with Broadreach Global Summer Educational Programs. This is a very cool organization that runs adventure tours for high school kids around the world. Last year, Trinity went on the Bahamas Marine Biology program. Trinity discovered this organization all on her own, and successfully lobbied us to send her last year. She wisely pitched the Bahamas program first … I’m not sure I’d send her swimming with sharks on the first pass. They post daily updates on what the team is doing, so I thought I’d share them here on Copernican Shift:
The “Summer of Sharks” is upon us again in Pacific Harbor, Fiji. Tuesday morning broke bright and early, and at 6am we met twelve, bleary-eyed, wide-smiling, excited Shark Studies students at the Nadi airport! All decked out in Broadreach regalia, everyone piled into our bus and stacked their luggage into a mountain that would rival Everest. Joining us on the bus was our mascot, decidedly named “Babs.” Babs, the great white shark, is our lucky 13th member of the group, and can’t wait to travel around Fiji with everyone. It was hard to concentrate on the beautiful scenery during our drive to Pacific Harbor, but between questions about the program, Fiji, and sharks… everyone “oohed” and “awed” over the views of mountains and the ocean.
We stopped briefly in Sigatoka to refuel with caffeine, nourishment, and the obvious choice for 9am…..ice cream. It’s always a great sight to see the students’ faces once we round the hill and finally spot Pacific harbor; it’s white beaches, turquoise waters, and Beqa island framed in the background. Everyone transferred the pile of luggage into our villa, and we spent the rest of the morning getting acquainted with our new home and pool, unpacking, and eating an early lunch (always needed after 12 hours of plane food).
After an early lunch, we trekked right next door to the dive shop, Beqa Adventure Divers (BAD), our soon-to-be second home. Austin lead small groups through a pool refresher, while others watched video footage of BAD’s renowned shark dive. It’s always hard to believe that in a mere two days, the students will be underwater with Fiji’s most famous residents; whitetips, blacktips, grey reefs, tawny nurses, sicklefin lemons, and bull sharks galore. What a way to spend a summer!
We celebrated our first dinner together with pizza while alumni Broadreachers described our “dinner rituals” of squeezes, glums and glows, and more. Everyone agreed that they are looking forward to a summer filled with new experiences, building new friendships, making lasting memories, learning about the Fijian culture, diving every day, and last but not least…….swimming with and learning about sharks!