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Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Fiji 2019: Day 5 (Gau)

Overnight we moved to Gau Island (pronounced roughly like “now”).

Dives 1 and 2: Nigali passage

The first two dives were at Nigali passage, which is a break in the fringing reef where, at least when the tide is flowing in, there is an aggregation of grey reef sharks along with schools of barracudas, snappers, etc. There are also some white tips, which aren’t as active but more hanging out/snoozing on the reef. The dive has to be timed with the tides, so we got a briefing at 6:45 and were going to wait for the ride to reverse (estimated to happen at 7:15) then the first skiff would go and 20 minutes later our skiff would go. As it turns out, the tide didn’t change directions on time and so I think it was 8:45 by the time the first skiff went. Doh. But the conditions underwater turned out well, so I guess it was worth the wait.

There is a sand channel in the 60’ to 90’ range, which you drift through. At some point there is a smaller sand channel that splits off (in a Y) to the right. Just after that, there’s a little ridge set off just from the wall which they call “the bleachers”, because you can stop there and hang onto the reef while watching the action. On the first dive, we did that and watched for about 15 minutes as around 10 grey sharks swam around in front of us. Then we went into the channel for some more up close action, and shortly past there, the channel gets shallower and you are spit out of the channel, where we turned right and followed a reef that goes from around 15’ to maybe 30’. A couple minutes down the wall, there is an area called the cabbage patch, which is covered in big lettuce leaf corals. That spot is pretty neat.

We had a quick turn around time between dives, but there was enough time for some delicious eggs Benedict (and banana muffins) before heading out.

For the second dive, we did things slightly differently. It was just the three of us (plus Chad) so we decided to go right at the Y since there’s some nice soft coral up there which should be open in the current. That channel comes out right by the cabbage patch. So instead of chilling at the bleachers, we hung out right at the Y, which I think was a slightly better spot for the sharks to come up closer to us, and the. When we’d had enough fun with the sharkies, we headed up the channel, where there was quite a bit of soft coral. Then we spent a while on the cabbage patch before ascending.

We had fish wraps with cole slaw for lunch.

Dive 3: Anthias Avenue

We moved a little at lunch time to the other end of the island. The skiffs went to two different sites, and we went to Anthias Avenue first. The site consists of a long ridge the goes from about 30’ to 80’ and has three smaller round side pinnacles (one in line with the ridge and two off to the side, in line with each other). Vanessa recommended one specific pinnacle as her favorite. The current was t running as expected, I guess because the tides were still behind. So there wasn’t much current and so the soft corals in many spots were not really open. But the bigger problem was that the via was terrible. It was super chunky. So we swam around and looked at all of the pinnacle but overall not a great dive.

Clinton and I skipped the next dive because of that and while Rob reported more current (so the corals were open) he said the viz and the light were not great.

For dinner we had super yummy lamb shanks, followed by passion fruit pudding for dessert. After that we had kava with the crew (yuck).

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