Last month, five of us attended the Society for Conservation Biology Oceania Conference in Suva, Fiji. David, Monica, Oliver, Sandra and Simone (in alphabetical order, not order of importance ;)) were looking forward to networking with active members of other SCB Chapters as well as officials from the Oceania section and the global society.
While attending the conference, the four of us still in their PhD phase presented their research, while Monica took the opportunity to present our plans for a Chapter-lead community conservation program. We loved the collegial atmosphere of the conference and got a lot of interest in our relatively new Chapter. We also sold the re-usable coffee cups we had made to raise funds for our Little Penguin Project and recruited some new speakers for our seminar series. Our treasurer Sandra even won one of the student prices for her talk!
Our plans included an additional 4 days in Fiji after the conference to join one of the great field trips on offer and to go diving. But unfortunately, the four of us sharing a room all caught the flu that was going around in Suva, one after the other. On the day after the conference, when it was time for the field trips, only three out of the four of us that had signed up for the Wailotua Bat Caves and Waterfall Hike felt up to the challenge. Despite our condition, we thoroughly enjoyed the hidden Fijian village, with the traditional ceremonies and company during the hike up to the waterfall, where the more adventurous travellers walked behind the waterfall and jumped into the pool. The Bat Caves impressed with sites of cannibalistic rituals as well as the sounds of bat and swiftlet wings.
The next day, we were still miserable and would not have been able to dive because of our clogged noses and ears. Being feverish at least part of the time did not help either. So we spontaneously decided to rent a bure on a beach in a Coral Coast resort. This is where we spent the remainder of our days in Fiji, lying in bed and wishing and trying to go out and enjoy the beach and the water. Fortunately we felt a bit better on the last day and managed to go for a short kayak trip and snorkelling in the nearby marine park. The wonderful snorkelling did not make up for the lack of diving, but gave a great first taste! We saw lots of beautiful fish, including two different species of clownfish (Nemo!), just a few meters from shore.
All in all, it was a very successful trip to Fiji and we all agree it would be great to go back one day, to enjoy the famous underwater world without a flu getting in the way!