Håkan Björklund

Aquatic Environment, Nature Conservation & Diving



Now we are a little bit dizzy and tired from about 36 hour journey and 11 hours change of timezon.  

It all started with a minor problem when we came to Malmö and the trains didn´t go thrue the tunnel to Copenhagen. Major computer error. Offcoarse. But we took a cab immediatly, so that obstacle was easy to overcome. Then all went well untill we arrived at Fiji, and realised that our luggage haven´t. Hopefully it will arrive tomorrow, otherwise we have to go shopping tomorrow. 

But we have arrived at Pacific Harbour, eaten lunch and been introduced to the project and met a lot of outher volonteers. It will take some time to learn the names of 20-25 new people.  

We have got some assignments already, and will work tomorrow, then we are free friday and saturday. And will make our first dives at sunday.

Can barely whait untill sunday:)  


Yesterday we were still a bit off, but in much better shape after sleeping eleven hours. We went to a village just a little bit away from Pacific Harbour. Our colleges teached the children at the kindergarten a bit about sharks (and it was a little bit of an english-lesson to). Then we had a great Fijian lunch.

In the afternoon we went shopping som stuff, our luggage were still in Australia or somewere undefined. New swimmingsuits, masks and snorkels was urgent to get, and then we went swimming and snorkeling, but the beach here is sandy, so the snorkeling was´nt anything. But it was nice to take a swim anyway.

Today we went to a waterfall in the djungle nearby. We took a cab to the local airfield, and walked for about 1,5 hour on a small road until we reached ”the wrong” waterfall. But it was beautiful and the stream was nice with clear water. The pictures speaks for themselfes  :)


Today it´s been raining almost all day from lunchtime and all night, but now it´s stopped. But it´s still cloudy, not the weather we expected at all. Raining season is supposed to start in late november from what we aret old, but so far we havn´t seen much of the sun. Well, we hade a lazy day yesterday. Got to the beach before lunch but went home when it started raining, and spent the day laying in the bed reading and relaxing. Havn´t had such a lazy day for a real long time and I think we needed relaxing.

Tomorrow were gonna make our first dive at Fiji



We have only been here for  few days, but one thing strikes me. The people here are most friendly and welcoming. I´ve never felt so welcomed anywere before. Everyone ewerywere greets ”bula” and smile, an reely means hello and welcome. And people are helpful and nice, if you ask for anything they acertain to do their best to help you, not just give you an answer to get rid of you. And opposite of most places I´ve gone to before we can go in to a store without the owner try to sell us everything. Before we got our luggage back, we went to the local divestore to buy a swimmingsuite. They didn´t have any left but the owner lokked at Anne and said: Youre about my wifes size, what here a moment and she will bring som swimming suits you can borrow for a while.

We went for our first dives yesterday. Anne got seasick and couldn´t dive. We did two dives at a control area (Yanuca). It´s an area beside a protected area that will serve as a reference area to se if the protected areas will be able to produce and maintain more and bigger fish of potential commercial interest, when fishing is prohibited.

I must admitt I was surprised that the reef was so damaged, and there was so few fishes of commercial interest. There were hardly any soft corals at all, and much more bara rock than hard corals. You can see that on my films 2014-10-19, and compare it whith pictures from Red sea. Red sea pictures are from Sharm el Sheikh, an area with houndreds, if not a thousand, visiting divers every day. I´m new in Fiji and won´t have any conclutions yet, but I believe that parts af the reefs are, in my oppinion, in dangerously bad condition, and measures to restore and protect the reefs are urgent. But some areas are protected, and hopefully this will help a lot, at least for some species.

We were out on the river today trying to catch baby bulls for tagging.We didn´t catch any shark, and they told me that they havn´t caugt more than 7 sharks in 7 mounths, far less than expected. And they arre concerned about the waterquality, which havn´t been surveyed yet.


Today we had two of the most spectacular dives, sharkdives at shark reef, Bequa lagoon. The guides are feeding the sharks som ”snacks” (tunaheads), and commonley ther comes about 15-20 bullsharks. We had about 40 big bullsharks, some of them nearly 3 m long, and realy huge. The big females are pregnant and will give birth very soon, so they realy are big. The males are just about 1,5-2 m and look small beside the big females.

It is a fantascic, slightly surreal felling to be beside these big beautiful animals, so powerful and magnificent, flexible and graceful. Off coarse they are potentially dangerous, but absoluteley not the horrifying bloodthirsty killers they are portayed as.

After about 20 min with the bullsharks we went up to shallower  waters to look at other sharks that don´t feel comfortable beside the bulls when they´re  feeding.  Grey reefshark, whitetip- and blacktip reefsharks in big numbers, I didn´t even try to count them, swam arounds us, fed by the guides.

I wish more people had the oppurtunity to experiense what it is to swim with sharks. These magnificent creatures, that´s been around for several houndread millions years. A fullfilled construction that´s been ruling the seas, shaping the ecosystems for longer time than there has been life on land. And now mankind is doing our best to extinct them. That´s horrifying. Finning and bycatch is killing so many sharks that several species are threatened to be extinct soon. And pollutions and other environmental changes such as destroyed coral reefs are destroyng the base fore marine life. I´m really concerned about what´s happening in our oceans. The coral reefs in Fiji are supposed to be about the finest in the world, and maybe so. But from the limited parts I have seen in these six dives we have done this week, I think it´s a catastrophy. The upper five meters neare the surface looks okej, and some vertical walls beneath the overhangs to, but most surfaces ar so very destroyed. Hardly any corals at all on 80-90 % of the hard surfaces that are horisontal or have a slope less than about 80 degrees. And without corals, there are few grazers that can support predatory fish. The entire base of the hole ecosystem is severly destroyed or disturbed in big areas, and noone knows why. Is it from pollutions, overfertilizition, dwelling in the rivers, increased sediment transportation, harvesting hard corals, or most likely, a combination of all these.

Whith my limited experience of diving I always see Brothers and Deadalus Islands in Red Sea as a reference when I dive. At these remote Islands with quite few visitors and very high circulation of water the reefs are quite undisturbed, if not pristine. At least in my point of view. And every square cm of rock is covered by corals, sponges or other organisms (not threadlike algae), and this is how it should bee if nature rules. Off coarse when human activities are conducted there will be disturbance, and we have to accept it. But when so very big areas are, not distubed but destroyed, we have to react and do something about it. In Bequa Lagoon area there has been established four Marine Protected Areas, where fishing is prohibited, and that´s a very important act. Fish can breed and grow up undisturbed in these areas, and probably they will then inhabit surrounding areas as well and function as a source of fish for the reef in the hole area. Maybe the corals in theese areas can regenerate and function at nursing areas for corals as well. I have discussed  the problem with som people who work in the area, and think I´ve got a pretty good idea of the problem. But hat has to be proven, a survey program must be initiated, and hopefully lead to an actionplan that can minimise the antropogen disturbanse so the reefs can be rehabilitated.

But I believe general actions has to be taken to enhance the quality of the reef in the hole area. If corals reconcure more of the reef there will be more fish everywhere. And if there is´nt food it won´t help that fish come from the protected areas, they can´t survive and grow in the way they should anyway. But with a well underbyggd actionplan and a big amount of money, I believe the reefs can get healthy and sustain fishery as well as tourism in term of divers as well. It will cost a lot of money, but generate a lot more.

Well, I havn´t seen  that much of Fijian reefs yet, and some people are telling me that there are very nice coral gardens here in the vicinity at Bequa lagoon to. Anyway there are big disturbances and I hope something can be done. But since there is no monitoring program regarding water quality in the rivers it´s a long way to go before the problems are defined and an action plan can be made. And I doubt that such an action plan has the highest priority from an economical point of view. But in long terms this will probably have a big influence in the economic, and it´s high time to start working with these issues. I will retur into this when i come home from my trip and go deeper in to my theory about what has to be done..


Now we have done totallys six sharkdives in Pascific Harbour. Four at BAD (Bequa Adventure Divers) an two at the Aqua trek. AT attracts a few more species than BAD, for ex lemonshark and Tawny Nurseshark, some bulls and sometimes even tigers, species that won´t come in when there are 20-40 bulls around. But it´s more messy with blood and slices off fish all around that stopp you from seein that well. Even if you can see there are a few nurses, you can´t get them om video because the visibility is bad caused of the blood and fishslashes.

I prefere BAD. Quite clean and well organised. Many bulls, and they sometimes get near you. Really near you, one meter or even less…….  It´s magnificent. I strongly recommend it for all sharkdivers, or if you want to bee one.


We have left project abroad and the rainy part of Fiji now and went to Mana Island southwest of Nadi. Two days of sun and our colour of the skin have dramaticaly changed, and our mood too. Three weeks of rain wasn´t expected, especially since we checked before we ordered, and was told the rainy season didn´t start until the end of november. But this year it started early.

Well, now we are here and have been snorkeling a bit on the northern part of the Island. And I lerned a lesson: dont walk arond without shoes in the middle of the day. The sand and rocks were probably 60 degrees Celcius and my feet burned red. And I was as dissappointed about the reefs here too. I hope they have someting better to show us tomorrow. We sat half the evening talking to the guides/instructors here, and they promise they wont disappoint us tomorrow. Lets see tomorrow.

This evening SVT show a film about how bad the situation is. It will be interesting, and I hope I can get in contact with the guy, even though his renomee as an UV-filmer is quite better than mine. But we can probably have something to give to each others. And maybe that can help us both scince wee seems to have the same agenda. Most interesting.

Good night, sleep well (Anne already do).


Today I have done two dives, Anne only did the first. First dive was at Barrel head and the hard corals ther were quite nice, but there were hardly no soft corals. But I estimatet that about 75-80 % of the rocks were covered by corals, and thats the best I´ve seen since I was in Red Sea 2,5 years ago. And there was seafans, anemones, baby sharks and a lot of other nice stuff. But not as much fish that I think would be expected.

Then we went to another reef, West wing, that was in much worse shape. Lots of dead corals that were broken and torned around. I was told it´s caused by hurricanes and has always been like that. But here was much brown thred-like algaes to. They seem to owergrow and kill the corals. And there was like monoculture devoloping, big areas with only a few species of hard coral owergrowing other species. One part of the reef, about 100 m2 was covered of only two species, and one of them almost covered the other on, so in a few years the other species will be overgrowned.

Threadlike algaes and monoculture are both indicating eutrophication, wich seems a little bit strange since we are quite a distance from the main island, and all islands around here are quite small. So I definitly belive watercirculation to be rather strong here, and fresh water from the big ocean should be dominating here. Eutrophication sholdn´t be strong out here in my opinion, but the signs are there.

But there was som highlights to. Bluspotted stingrays, muray eals, lots of anemones and some gigant clams. And some nice formations and other stuff. I¨ve decided to focus more at the nice stuff. Even though I am concerned and worried about the health of the reefs, I do enjoy the diving to. But are there anything left to see in 10 or 20 years? I´m not convinced.


The diving today and yesterday have given me confusing impressions. Wevé ben at four reeefs that has been quite boring at greater depth with quite bad cover of corals, but the upper 15 m have been quite or very nice. There have even been quite lot of soft corals at som of the reef and that makes me happy. Hawksbill turtle, sea cucumbers, seafans, bluespotted stingray and a lot of fish. At Castaway wall the upper part of the reef was awsome and we had a nice driftdive. I must stress I´ve got mixed feelings, but the last days of diving have given me a feeling that maybe, maybe it isn´t to late. As long as there are nice spots left reefs can be restored, or heal themselfes if we start treating them and the ocean better. Nature have an ability to heal if we dont pollute them too much and/or turn the ecosystem around completely. But information so divers know and understand what they see is essential. Divers should be oceans advocate, to preserv all we experience so next generation to have the opportunity to do the same.


Then our session in Fiji begins to reach the end. Were leaving Mana Island in an our and go to Nadi for one night, then it´s time to go to New Zeeland. It feels a bit sad to leave Fiji, I lite it here. The climate is nice (I ave already forgotten the rain in Pacific Harbour) and people here are nice and gentle. The diving has got highligts and living in a cabin on the beach is quite nice.  And somehow, living without tv, internet, news and all that stuff is kind of nice, if not great. It´s a mental cure, and I do feal relaxed. Think I realy needed to stay out of ”civilisation” for a while




2014-10-19 b

Bullsharks 2014-10-23

På Nya Zeeland, nordön.

En grotta med en underjordisk flod, det var lite skrämmande när vi hörde att vi närmade oss ett vattenfall. Inte direkt nåt man vill hamna i och störta ner i underjorden. Taket var fullt av lysmaskar som lös som små gröna stjärnor. Jättevackert, men ljuset var för svagt för att fotografera utan stativ. Ett minne som sitter kvar ändå.

Nya Zeeland är ju ett vulkaniskt område och där kontinentalplattor kolliderar med följd att bergen hela tiden lyfts upp. I bergen blir det både vulkaner och något lugnare områden med geisrar där varmvatten pyser ut. Detta området har tidigare olika stammar alltid krigat om eftersom varmvattnet är en värdefull resurs. Man kan värma bostäder eller koka mat med hett vatten, lite svalare är lagom för bad och tvätt. Det finns bassänger med olika temperatur och kemisk sammansättning inom ett litet område. Men geisrarna ska man va försiktig vid, 100 gradigt vatten är inte att leka med ;) Men vackert och mäktigt är det.


 Ännu mäktigare var det att åka ut på vulkanön Whakaari eller White Island, en aktiv vulkan. Vi var tvungna att ha gasmask med och sätta på när halterna svaveldioxid blev irriterande i halsen. När den kommer i kontakt med vatten blir det svavelsyra, o det är inte bra att ha i hals och lungor. På vänstra bilden syns kratersjön i mitten, en sjö av koncentrerad svavelsyra. 

I början av 1900-talet bröt man svavel här, men vulkanen exploderade och ena sidan av ön for ut i havet. Tyvärr den sidan där fabrik och bostäder var belägna, så alla människorna dog, endast katten överlevde. Det kändes rätt otäckt när historien upprepade sig 4 år efter vi varit där. I december 2019 exploderade den igen och 22 av de 47 personer som befann sig på ön då dog. Att de andra överlevde var delvis tur då de tappade orienteringen i syradimman, och många behövde lång intensivvård för att överleva. Än idag är ön stängd för turism.