masthead

Fish Surveys

Dick's damselsOver the years we have been involved with Fish Counts of one sort or another. We have done PADI Project AWARE Fish Counts, participated in the Great Fiji Butterflyfish Counts and now are able to offer divers REEF Fish Counts.

Keen to expand their database to include fish and invertebrates found in Fiji, REEF (The Reef Environmental Educational Foundation) sought assistance from those in the know at DEMA, the World’s largest Dive Show, as to whom to get in touch with in Fiji to help.
 As of early 2011 Dive Tropex Tokoriki became a REEF Field Station and guests diving with us are now able to conduct fish surveys for the benefit of ongoing scientific research.

cardinal fish The beauty of the REEF surveys is that divers don’t have to be experts to participate. As such the survey is something even a fairly new diver can accomplish. The surveys are fun and educational, using a random, ‘check off fish as you dive’, approach. Tokoriki divers are encouranged to sign up for a REEF survey through the PADI Adventure and Advanced Diver programs.

PADI Project AWARE Clean Ups

Beach cleanup kids A trip to magical Monuriki Island, location of the movie ‘Cast Away’, is a favourite of many of Tokoriki’s guests. But even this uninhabited jewel is not immune to modern times.

For the past six years Dive Tropex Tokoriki has run biannual clean ups to mark Earth Day (April) and International Clean up Day (September), enlisting the help of Yanuya Island school kids to clean beach and bush of rubbish.

Beach cleanup kids The rubbish, which consisted of plastic bottles, plastic bags, glass bottles, polystyrene and flip flops(!), gets washed ashore by ocean currents. This not just looks ugly, but can also become a health hazard for marine life and seabirds, who mistake certain items of rubbish for food. Plastic lighters for example look like squid—a favourite food of seabirds, and plastic bags look like jelly fish—a favourite food of Turtles and Whales.


Clean up events are fun. The kids particularly enjoy the fast boat ride over from the village to Monuriki Island, and once there a very short brief is given and then the clean up begins.

At the end of the clean up, the children are given goodie bags filled with school stationery as well as a certificate of recognition from PADI Project AWARE.

Beach cleanup kids

Coral Planting

coral plantingIn 2009 and early 2010 Tokoriki’s Fringing Reef suffered from a Crown of Thorn outbreak. The Crown of Thorn starfish is a coral eating native to the reefs of the South Pacific but every once in a while populations get out of control and whole coral reefs can be destroyed.

After the outbreak, we enlisted the expertise of people who plant coral for a living. Here in Fiji the obvious people to go to were Walt Smith International—growers of coral for the aquarium trade.

coral plantingThe technique we use was actually developed by Walt in the 1960s and is very effective. For full details of a how to on coral planting please download the Coral Planting Fact File (pdf).

Tokoriki diving guests can get involved in coral planting should they wish to. Coral planting has become an option for diving guests participating in the PADI Adventure and Advanced Diver Courses.

coral planting

Project AWARE Environmental Award

Project AWARE Foundation, a nonprofit environmental organization dedicated to conserving underwater environments, recognizes the outstanding conservation efforts of eco operators through the Project AWARE Environmental Achievement Award.

The award won in 2007, 2008 and 2009 by Dive Tropex Tokoriki, demonstrates demonstrates the facility’s exceptional commitment to conserving underwater environments through education, advocacy and action.

42 dive centres across the globe received the prestigious award. Each year Project AWARE Foundation recognizes the outstanding environmental efforts of dive retailers and resorts. These facilities lead by example, helping to both motivate and inspire divers, consumers and local communities.

Award winners operate their business in an environmentally responsible manner and exemplify the Project AWARE philosophy within their daily operations.

For more details of Project AWARE please visit projectaware.org

Project AWARE Environmental Achievement award for 2009 Banner

Clams Fight to Stay Alive

By LITI TAGICAKIBAU

Tourists who dive and snorkel in Fijian reefs are fascinated with the unique giant clam. To them it symbolises how exotic the South Pacific is.

According to the Fisheries Department: this magnificent creature can live up to 200 years and grow to the size of a bathtub or two metres long if it reaches full maturity. In fact, some islands in the Lau Group still use the shell of this species, tridacna gigas, as babies’ baths.

Unfortunately, excessive human consumption led to the species’ extinction and endangersed another species, tridacna derasa or smooth clam in the 1960s. It was reintroduced to Fiji from Australia’s Great Barrier Reef in a joint venture between the Fijian and Australian Fisheries Project.

Last month, the Dive Tropex at Tokoriki Island Resort in the Mamanucas, with the help of the Ministry of Fisheries, began a project aimed at conserving this fascinating yet fragile species. The project, known as the Tokoriki Island Giant Clam Regeneration Project, is a significant step as the giant clams are the first of their species to be reintroduced to Western Fiji after becoming extinct.

Will Wragg, 28, and Alexandra Garland, 30, dive instructors at Tokoriki, realised the importance of implementing such projects as reefs and pinnacles surrounding the island did not have any more giant clams.

It takes a giant clam between seven to nine years to reach full sexual maturity but chances of successful reproduction are very slim. In addition to the odds stacked against the giant clam, it suffers heavy predation in its early years.

Ms Garland said apart from conservation purposes, the project would add another dimension to diving, as the presence of clams in dive sites would make it a more interesting experience for guests.

The giant clam is not the only species planted around the island. The smooth clam and the tridacna squamosa or fluted clam have also been planted. These clams, totalling up to 104, were supplied by the Fisheries Research Station on Makogai Island in the Lomaiviti Group. A team of marine biologists at the station artificially seed and nurture various species of clams before planting them on Makogai Island’s fringing reefs. To survive the long journey from Makogai to Tokoriki, the clams were wrapped in medical gauze dampened with seawater and placed in sealed heavy-duty bags, which were arranged, in a chilled icebox.

Upon reaching Tokoriki they were removed from the bags and placed in buckets of sea water before being measured and catalogued. Three officers—Aisake Batibasaga, Peni Drodrolagi and Kolinio Rakaka from the Fisheries Department—along with the two PADI instructors deep dived around various sites near the island to find suitable places planted in deeper waters to plant the clams.

The clams were carried down to cages with a base of dead coral rubble where they were placed in catalogue order. The baby clams nestled into the coral base and the cages were closed and wired down. The cages protect the clams from predators such as the octopus and the triggerfish. The small clams, which are four to six centimeters long, are planted in one to five metres deep waters as they need a rocky base and a lot of sunlight to grow. The bigger ones are planted in deeper waters measuring seven metres in depth at least.

Once the clams reach one year of age they will be taken out of their cages and planted on the reef.

Ms Garland said guardians of the clams will be appointed from the local Fijian population to help protect and conserve all planted clams. The project aims to breed erate the giant clam as a species.

It focuses on providing the local Fijian population with incentives to initiate similar programmes carried out for research purposes.

Press Releases

March 2007

Tokoriki Island Resort Press Release

Tokoriki Island Lagoon becomes a Marine Park Sanctuary
(.pdf, 2.4mb).

December 2000

Clams Fight to Stay Alive

Article text version.

Clams Fight to Stay Alive Article

Go Eco Project AWARE Operator Status Awarded To Tokoriki Dive Shop

Go Eco LogoDive Tropex Tokoriki is the latest PADI dive centre to be awarded with Project AWARE Go Eco Operator status in 2007.

Project AWARE Foundation, the dive industry’s leading non-profit environmental organisation launched the Go Eco campaign in the Asia Pacific region in 2005. The main objective of Go Eco is for dive centres to minimize their impact on the aquatic ecosystem whilst contributing to environmental, economic and cultural conservation. Dive centres are required to meet best practice environmental guidelines and commit to the PADI Project AWARE Go Eco philosophy.

Dive Tropex Tokoriki is delighted to be awarded with the Project AWARE Go Eco operator status for 2007. As a Go Eco operator we are committed to providing dive experiences that enhance visitor awareness, appreciation and understanding of the local aquatic environment.

Artificial Reefs

On Tokoriki Wall, our Home Reef and favourite beginner and night dive site, we have placed various handmade fish houses. These stone/cement structures are still young but are being colonized fast by various species of coral, algae and other organisms.

According to the University of Florida paper on artificial reefs: “Artificial reef materials provide a hard stable surface to which natural, local organisms, such as barnacles and algae, attach and grow. The encrusting plants and animals, in turn, serve as food and shelter for fish and other marine life, initiating an integrated marine ecosystem. …Artificial reefs provide new communities a location on which to establish themselves and prosper.”

Check our Dive Sites Map for locations of our Artificial reefs.

Giant Clams Regeneration Project

Fluted ClamThe Giant Clam is one of the most fascinating inhabitants of the Fijian reefs. It is a creature of great beauty and wonder to snorkeling and diving guests alike. It is also impressive to say the least—the species tridacna gigas if allowed to reach full maturity can grow to the size of a bathtub! Indeed in the Lau Islands of Fiji the Islanders still use the shell of tridacna gigas as babies’ baths!

Sadly the reefs and pinnacles surrounding Tokoriki Island have been depleted of their stocks of certain species of Giant Clams. A serious cause for concern especially when one considers the odds nature itself has stacked up against the Giant Clam.

Dive Tropex Tokoriki in conjunction with PADI Project AWARE and the Ministry of Fisheries have initiated ‘The Tokoriki Island Giant Clam Regeneration Project’. Three Species of Clams: tridacna gigas (Giant), tridacna squamosa (Fluted) and tridacna derasa (Smooth) have been planted around Tokoriki Island. This is a significant conservation step for Fiji as our tridacna gigas and tridacna derasa are the first of their species to be reintroduced to Western Fiji—having become extinct in Fiji in the 1960s.

The Clams are protected, monitored and maintained by Dive Tropex Tokoriki.

Interested Scuba Diving Guests and Discover Scuba Divers (Resort Divers) are invited to support our project by doing a dive to our conservation site just three minutes away from Tokoriki. In addition to the three planted species ‘Magic Mushrooms’ is home to another three species of clams—the maxima, the crocus (rare) and the extremely rare endemic Terove’s Clam. Clams aside it’s also an excellent dive for macro lovers, with active fish life and nice soft corals. Press Release from December 19th, 2000.

Our Giant Clam reef has recently been included in the Tokoriki Island Resort Marine Reserve, which should ensure the protection of the clams and bring a further increase in fish population.

For more information about our Giant Clam Project please download our Giant Clam Regeneration Project Fact file (pdf).

Giant clamGiant clam

Blue Coral (Heliopora Coerulea) Discovery

We are always looking for new Dive Sites particularly when we have divers who are doing a lot of dives with us. When you are looking for a dive site the tendency is always to go further out and sometimes you overlook the little gems right on your doorstep. On the way to the Outer Barrier reef, but only four minutes from Tokoriki we crossed a little patch reef covered in coral. The next day we went straight out and dived this site and were astounded by the extent of hard coral cover. Over the next few weeks we got to know the site and decided because of its evident good health but also its proximity to Tokoriki to include it as one of the three dives chosen for the Reef Check program. During one of the Reef Check dives our good friend Marine Biologist Di Walker got very excited, after lots of gesticulating and scribbling on slates we realised that she had found something pretty special…

Blue Coral

Press Release (2004) Di Walker; Project Manager, Mamanuca Environment Society

“Upon a recent Reef Check survey Dive in the Mamanuca Islands just West of the Main Island of Viti Levu in Fiji, I happened to chance upon the Blue coral, Heliopora coerulea growing in a section of the patch reef that was being surveyed. Having dived the Mamanuca Islands extensively and never having observed the coral I was very much of the same opinion of most experts that this coral just did not exist in Fiji.

“Low Isles on the northern Great Barrier Reef probably represent the southern–most reported presence of Heliopora and American Samoa the eastern-most, with a line being drawn at the Island of Rotuma for distribution of the coral into Fiji. Experts have declared this coral extinct in Fiji with no recent observations having been made of the coral being alive. Reports made in 1985 consider the presence of the coral in Fiji doubtful as it was not recorded in beach sediments or coral assemblages studied inand around the Fiji Islands. The study also declared that the genus was formerly present in Fiji since Heliopora fijiensis was named by Hoffmeister (1945) from Miocene deposits on the Fiji Island chain of Lau.

“The patch reef that the Heliopora coerulea was observedgrowing on was very intact. A large massive porites colonymeasuring 5m by 5m was observed close to the growth site as were numerous unusually large Giant clams (Tridacna Squamosa) with the shell measuring over 70cm in length. Although this site is surrounded by a resort and could be frequently used by the two neighbouring island villages for fishing and collection of invertebrates, it appears to be relatively untouched. The colonies of Blue Coral were small with maximum height of 20cm and width of about 40cm. There were many colonies observed but only on a small section of the reef. This does raise the question of whether these colonies are ancient relics, due to the obvious intact state of the reef or new invaders to the group due to their small colony size.

“This Coral, also commonly known as Blue Ridge Coral, is used in other islands where it is commonly found for jewellery and also in the aquarium trade due to its’ unusual Sky Blue skeleton. The Skeleton is made of aragonite deposits and the Coral closely related to the Octocoral family which means the polyps have eight tentacles. It produces a hard skeleton unlike most other ‘octocorals’ and it is a tawny brown colour on the outside.”

Blue Coral Reef lies about four minutes from Tokoriki Island Resort and is suitable for divers of all abilities. Please also check our Dive Sites Map for our Blue Coral dive site location.


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