Thursday, October 24, 2013

Fiji 2013 | Before and After

For the past several years, the New England Aquarium has participated in a joint expedition to Fiji, along with the Monterey Bay Aquarium and other conservation-minded groups and individuals. The last expedition took place in Spring 2012

Today's post about the joint aquarium Fiji expedition comes from the Aquarium supporter Tally Lauter.

When traveling long distances from the East Coast to Fiji I build in a few days outbound to ensure I do not miss the not-so-often flight to Fiji. That gave me, Bailey and Don some time to hang out in LA for a few days. How else should we spend our time other than to visit aquariums (or as Bailey calls it- conducting industrial espionage), fish wholesalers and other museums?

Entrance to Santa Monica Pier Aquarium | Photo: Bailey

Famous Santa Monica Pier | Photo: Bailey

We went to the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium to see a small but very attractive and kid-friendly aquarium. They have great invertebrate touch tanks, a neat focus tank with a swimming tunicate species and a compact but impressive shark touch exhibit.

Tally and Don meet a seahorse not on display | Photo: Bailey

Touch tank with swell and leopard sharks
(Cephaloscyllium ventriosum, Triakis semifasciatum) 
Photo: Bailey

Invertebrate touch tanks with local invert species
Photo: Bailey

Tally investigates the unusual swimming tunicate Melibe leonine | Photo: Bailey

Don photographs a Garibaldi (Hypsypops rubicundus), California’s state marine fish | Photo: Bailey

We also went to see the excellent Kelp Forest Exhibit at the California Science Center; big windows, a walk through tunnel and an interesting bubble window. The CSC’s Diversity Lab tank area had a clever two-spot octopus display

Kelp Forest Exhibit | Photo: T. Lauter

Tunnel through Kelp Forest Exhibit | Photo: Bailey
Two spot octopus exhibit intrigues Tally and Don | Photo: Bailey

Recently, the new Space Shuttle Endeavor display opened at CSC, and it was impressive.

California Science Center’s newly opened Space Shuttle Endeavour Exhibit. Photo: T. Lauter

After our arrival in Fiji there was a great opportunity to visit Nadi town and check out the open air market. There, exotic fruits and spices are plentiful and tantalize the senses. Many things are new to me and broaden my appreciation for the variety of cultures in our shrinking world. One item I found enticing was the fresh water mussels called kai (rhymes with sky) that are displayed by many vendors.

Kai (freshwater mussels) in Nadi town makete | Photo: K. Ellenbogen
I had a chance to taste them later in the trip and, much to my delight, they are delicious.    We had a chance to interact with some of the local vendors and buy some kava (a pepper root traditional drink) for a welcome gift to the crew of the NAI’A. We ate meat pies from our favorite local bakery and shopped for things needed before heading to sea.

Kai on Tally’s dinner plate at the First Landing Resort | Photo: Bailey

After the ten days on the NAI’A there was the opportunity to decompress (and gas off some of our nitrogen!) before boarding the Fiji Airways flight back to the States. The last days were spent at the First Landing Resort, which happens to be the location where the first native people came ashore to settle Fiji from their druas (Fijian double hull canoe).

First Landing Resort entrance from the road | Photo: T. Lauter

Illustration of a drua under way; they could be 30m long and carry 200 | Image via

First Landing Resort; reportedly where the first Fijians came ashore upon encountering the islands
Photo courtesy: First Landing Resort

Lauren investigates some of the mangrove thickets bordering the resort

The views from the resort’s location are nothing but spectacular. There was good food and fellowship that makes us all want to return for the next adventure in March of 2015.

Facebook Comments


Post a Comment