The Underwater World of Fiji’s Beqa Lagoon

June 23rd, 2017

Teeming with life and exploding with colour, Fiji’s undersea world is breathtaking and fascinating with more than 1500 species of reef fish, mollusks, turtles, anemones, and crustaceans.

And 390 kinds of coral!

Did you know that Fiji is known as the “soft coral capital of the world?”

Humphead Maori Wrasse

Both hard and soft corals grow in the mild temperatures of the South Pacific, but the most sought-after are the soft corals found in the waters around Fiji. And some of the loveliest of those live in the Beqa Barrier Reef near Nanuku.

The Beqa (pronounced “benga”) Barrier Reef, one of the largest barrier reefs in the world, surrounds Beqa Island, which is just south of Pacific Harbour, Fiji and a short boat ride from Nanuku Auberge Resort Fiji.

The reef protects Beqa Island and with mild currents, underwater visibility more than 30 meters, and a relatively constant 27-degree (80 degrees Fahrenheit) water temperature.

Almost 100 square miles in size, the Beqa Lagoon waters swirl with marine life nourished by plankton and other nutrients carried by the currents.

Hard and soft corals, throngs of reef fish, crustaceans, eels, turtles, and anemones thrive in this environment, which also draws larger finned fish like the giant trevally, mahi-mahi, sailfish, tuna, wahoo, marlin, and mackerel.

Manta and eagle rays and many species of sharks live in this fantastic underwater realm too, much to the delight of thrill-seeking divers who sign up to watch expert guides hand feed the sharks!

scuba diver in the Beqa Lagoon

A Nanuku guest from Sydney Australia includes this comment in her Trip Advisor review:

Nanuku is located very close to a dive center (Aquatrek bega), as well as a multitude of other adventure activities, and we decided on day two to complete a PADI open water scuba course. While it earned us our diver certification the real motivation was so we could join a shark dive, which involved hand feeding some pretty large and scary fish. We could not have been more pleased. An unforgettable memory for sure. We didn’t feed the huge predators ourselves of course, but we were with them 20m below the surface and close enough to reach out and touch them!  K. S. Perry, Nanuku guest, 2016.

About soft corals.

snorkeling woman holding a blue sea star

Blue Seastar

Soft corals are among the most beautiful in the world’s oceans. Richly coloured, they present as exotic “branches” that cascade down the walls of underwater pinnacles. Bright purple, dark rust, vivid oranges and yellows, and mellow olive greens are primary colours for soft corals, but they come in every hue imaginable.

Soft corals resemble plants, but are actually animals and include gorgonians, sea fans, sea pens, sea feathers, and blue corals. These corals have a flexible, sometimes leathery, appearance.

The main difference between hard coral and soft coral is structural. While hard corals secrete calcium-based skeletons, soft corals do not. Instead, soft corals contain structures within their tissues called spiracles that support their bodies. Additionally, soft corals have eight feathery tentacles for feeding while hard corals have only six.

clownfish hiding in sea anemone

Clownfish

The brilliant carpets of soft corals clinging to underwater surfaces hide a plethora of macro life such as pygmy seahorses, imperial shrimp, ghost pipefish, and the elusive blue ribbon eel.

Schools of purple and orange anthias swim in shimmering clouds above the corals, and tiny clownfish nudge their striped bodies through waving anemone stalks.

This Nanuku Auberge Resort guest from Melbourne Australia explored Beqa Lagoon with his 7 and 9 year-old daughters and comments in his Trip Advisor review:

Amongst all the beautiful coral reef, clams, schools of fish, and angelfish, the highlight for the girls was the clown fish – perhaps it was Nemo’s dad as it was a good size!

The abundance and variety of marine life in Beqa Lagoon bring divers and snorkelers back, again and again, to enjoy its beauty and marvel at the symbiosis of this magnificent reef.

Ready to observe these amazing corals and underwater worlds for yourself?