Sunday, December 21, 2008
OK everyone, end of this year and end of the KUNA blog posts for a little while while it's Christmas here in Peava. In the new year, I will fly back to Oz for a short Antarctic trip to cool down before returning to the Solomons and resuming blog and project in feb!
MERRY CHRISTMAS and a GREAT NEW YEAR TO ALL READERS!!
Monday, December 15, 2008
Finally KUNA had the opportunity and a good reason to sail around Vangunu Island through Morovo lagoon: go to Uepi Island, 37 miles from Peava. Taking a trip inside the lagoon was definitely easier after two banana boat rides but overall there are only a few shoals to avoid, the entrance to the Mbili passage is easy to negociate, staying right in the middle of the channels and the waters directly around Vangunu island are quite deep. Any shoal above 9m become a milky emerald green color and when it gets yellow brown, start worrying!! I will later post a track.
As a contribution to Morovo conservation DVD project, Grant and Jill, who manage the resort on this private island invited us to film on their reefs, which, despite many challenges, have been protected for more than 20 years. Grant and Jill have worked very hard on educating the local villagers to avoid fishing, and explain that in return, the tourists who come and look at the reef bring in business, which is good for the community. The concept of tourism and investment in the future has yet to grow a lot more in the Solomons.
Uepi reefs are the oldest MPA (Marine protected area) in Morovo, a testimony for what fish life may have been not so long ago on all the other reefs when fishing pressure was less. Morover, Uepi has been a diving resort for so long that the fish is really accustomed to divers, great for those who like to have a close up look. It is definitely easier to film reef life and fish behaviours where fish are plentiful and not afraid of humans, who are predators elsewhere. Grant and Jill are a wealth of knowledge about the marine environment there because they dive everyday.
Uepi is also a fantastic diving resort, with excellent facilities, very helpful staff and delicious local food. Great place to stay for a diving holiday!!
The accomodation side from the water. Do NOT anchor THAT close!!
I later will post a track on how KUNA got through the lagoon and to the anchorage behind Uepi island. Really the Uepi anchorage is not so well protected from the S- to NW and it can get fairley choppy if waves build up during squalls or more systemic winds but the holding ground is about OK (sand and rubble), and it would be well protected in the trades season, though stinking HOT!!!!. If you go there, take care to anchor with sufficient swinging space in between all the bommies to prevent damage from the chain. An amazing number of animals live on these small oasis. Also anchor far away enough from the island to not impend on guests privacy and report to the office on arrival to get advice on what you can and can’t do.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Since the conservation DVD project deals mostly with water quality, a good look at the freshwater creeks, where it all starts, was necessary. One may think eels are boring but th eons we found in the creeks of Mbiche village and Kavolavata are rather interesting and easy to film.
Mbiche creek, eels live where women wash the dishes!
At Mbiche, in the middle of the village, the eels cohabitate with the women doing dishes, the pikininis playing and enjoy a fish gut cleaning session, as they get a good feed!
Men clean the fish...
and the eels jump out for a feed on fish guts!
The Mbiche mob has turned their kastom eels into a tourist attraction, so they feature in the tour that they offer to the lodge dwellers, but in Kavolavata, the eels peacefully rest under huge tree roots and curiously came out to eyeball the camera
The shade is good for them. Without true shelter, I noticed the eels at Mbiche all suffer from cataract:
Along with the eels a number of freswater prawns live in the crystal clear waters of the creek.
Where to find these characters?
Here is an overview of the lagoon
At the extreme SE end of the island of Ngatokae lay those two villages, with Peava anchorage in the middle