In May of 2017, Global Underwater Explorers’ (GUE) New Zealand (GUE NZ) dive groups organized a Project Baseline conservation mission in Fiji to survey the health of coral reefs. The project surveyed reef conditions at multiple depths by leveraging SCUBA divers and M/Y Ad-Vantage’s 1,000 meters, 3-person submersible Moby around the islands of Fiji.
In terms of location, our primary objective was to explore and document the Great Astrolabe Reef, which is one of the largest barrier reefs in the world, and is listed in the Register of Sites of National Significance to Fiji in Fiji’s National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan. The reef encompasses Kadavu Island and the smaller islands that extend to the north, ending with Dravuni. The reef is a breeding ground for many large billfish, sharks, tuna, giant trevally, mahi-mahi, and snapper. Our initial objective was to survey the reef on both the windward and leeward sides of the island chain at multiple depths and thereby expand on previous surveys conducted in shallow waters by the World Wildlife Foundation and the Planetary Coral Reef Foundation. We also visited sites near the Island of Malolo due to weather.