Ede and Ravenscroft Prize Report, 2000

Ovalau Reef Expedition, Fiji 2000
Richard Brantingham


Introduction

During the summer of 2000 a team from Britain, consisting of three undergraduates from Loughborough and Cambridge Universities and two professional diving instructors carried out a seven week diving expedition on the island of Ovalau, Fiji. The area of study is the fringing reef within the proximity of the Bureta River mouth.

Coral Reefs are one of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet, a priceless heritage. With the status of the world reefs being a major concern over recent years, this project addresses the issue by looking at sedimentation. The principal aim is to analyse variations in the status of coral reef communities, with respect to distance from the Bureta River mouth. The methods involved transect line surveys and were carried out using both SCUBA diving and snorkelling. The results will primarily be used for my undergraduate dissertation. It is also designed to be a ‘baseline’ study of fluvial sedimentation within Fiji and the South Pacific, a topic that is very poorly researched. The expedition had strong interaction and co-operation with the Bureta village and other communities, especially rugby and traditional social events.

Personal Benefits
The Ovalau Reef Expedition is the most adventurous and rewarding project I have been involved in. It has benefited me in several ways: -Firstly, I have an interesting and original dissertation subject that will fill a gap in the current global literature. Secondly, I have made many good contacts and friends throughout the UKand the South Pacific. As I intend to continue my education by doing a Masters course, these contacts may be very useful in the near future. Thirdly, I have learnt many skills from my team and those in the Bureta village. For example skills related to diving, first aid, languages, scientific research and living in remote environments. Finally, leading an expedition such as this will reflect well for future employment.

Other beneficiaries

Loughborough University
The expedition has maintained the profile of the University and the Geography Department. Its success hopefully reflects well on the ambition and determination of Loughborough students.

The Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) and Reef Conservation UK
The expedition has not only maintained the profile of the organisations but will add to their already extensive collection of expedition and reef research.

Buretan and Ovalau Inhabitants
While living in Bureta, we gave several talks to the school and members of the village. We also donated educational stationery and reef conservation information to the school in order to highlight the issue of reef degradation.

A complete report of the expedition will be published in 2001. Copies will be sent to the Universities of Loughborough and the South Pacific, the Fijian Department of Environment, the Royal Geographical Society, Reef Conservation UK and all other organisations with an interest.


Secretary to Prizes Committee
November 2000
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