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4K Underwater Video: A Fish Geek’s View of the Fiji Islands, in 2160p UltraHD

We recently re-visited the Fiji Islands, and our former home the dive liveaboard NAI’A, for an 11-night expedition through our old stomping grounds. Aware of the hammering Fiji copped at the hands of Cyclone Winston—the strongest storm to hit Fiji in recorded history, and killer of 44 Fijians—it was with some apprehension that we boarded the ship. It had only been 9 months since Winston, but we knew from our prior storm experiences that Fiji recovers quickly from strong natural disturbances… so there was plenty to be hopeful for.

Very soon after Winston passed, NAI’A had already done most of the exploring of sites old and new. While Winston’s impacts were overwhelming at some sites (like the famous “E-6”), other sites (like “Nigali Passage” and the sites at Wakaya Island) are better now than when we left Fiji 10 years ago.

All in all I’d have to say I was pleasantly surprised for the most part that so many of our beloved sites and villages had come through relatively unscathed.

Here’s my 4K video of the underwater highlights, and below is a list of the fish species or dive sites you’re seeing. Enjoy, and please share this with your fellow fish geeks!


Time What
0:00 Fusiliers feeding on surgeonfish spawn at Samu Reef, near Lautoka.
0:08 Bigeye Trevally (Caranx sexfasciatus) at Namena. The most welcoming of schooling fish.
0:14 Bluestripe snapper (Lutjanus kasmira) with many different soldierfish and squirrelfish, Gau Island.
0:20 Gold-lined sea bream (Gnathodentex aureolineatus) mixed in with snappers and others, Gau Island.
0:28 Pygmy seahorse (Hippocampus pontohi) hunting in dead-ish black coral.
0:33 Fire dartfish (Nemateleotris magnifica) looking typically magnificent.
0:40 Shy toby (Canthigaster ocellicincta)
0:46 Juvenile and female Exquisite wrasses (Cirrhilabrus exquisitus) dancing in the rubble.
0:52 Old glory (Koumansetta rainfordi), one of my favourite and worst-named gobies.
0:59 Blue-striped fang blenny (Plagiotremus rhinorhynchos). A sneaky little bastard waiting to bite passing fish.
1:04 White-tip reef shark (Triaenodon obesus), one of hundreds of sharks our group recorded as part of the 2016 Fiji Shark Count.
1:10 Bigeye bream (Monotaxis grandoculis) hovering typically motionless.
1:15 Dwarf hawkfish (Cirrhitichthys falco), typically skittish and annoying to film.
1:19 The miraculously unscathed “cabbage patch” (Turbinaria reniformis) at the end of Nigali Passage.
1:25 Yellow-lined goatfish (Mulloidichthys vanicolensis) at the amazingly healthy Nigali Passage, Gau Island
1:35 My first ever Crescent-tail hogfish (Bodianus sepiacaudus)! Very excited to find this guy 38m/125′ down Mount Mutiny’s “Rainbow Wall”.
1:45 Insane amount of marine biodiversity in one spot: all the cleaners, including juvenile Axilspot hogfish, and the pile of fish poo from cleanees could be the cause of the hotness of the spot. (Watch my TEDx talk to learn more about fish poo and fish cleaning stations.)
1:52 Juvenile Axilspot hogfish (Bodianus axillaris) cleaning a monster Coral trout. Tricky to pick species at this size, but my guess is the Footballer (Plectropomus laevis). The cluster of fish in the previous shot was directly below this cleaning station.
1:59 Yellow-Mask surgeonfish (Acanthurus mata) joins the line at the cleaning station, and changes from light to dark colouration so that the Bluestreaked cleaner wrasse (Labroides dimidiatus) can more easily find parasites.
2:06 A female Morrison’s dragonet (Synchiropus morrisoni)… doin’ nothin’.
2:12 White-tip reef shark (Triaenodon obesus) having a snooze, while a remora (Echeneis naucrates) waits patiently for a ride.
2:19 Golden damsel (Amblyglyphidodon aureus) tending eggs. This species has done very well post-Winston with unlimited damaged fans which they prefer to lay their eggs on.
2:32 Lots of fans and soft corals seem to have dodged Winston’s bullet, while some show signs of damage from hard corals falling on them from above. Namena Marine Reserve.
2:39 Soft corals (Dendronepthya sp.) love the current. Namena Marine Reserve.
2:46 The dive site “Mellow Yellow” looks just as I remembered it. Stunning. Those soft corals need that strong current, though, which makes filming pretty tricky.
2:52 Fiji’s most common planktivore, the Scalefin anthias (Pseudanthias squamipinnis), makes most current-swept areas look spectacular. The purple ones are the males, the females are orange. This one little bloke has his hands very full.
2:59 One of our regular expedition guests, Pam, always fights the current to find the leading edge of the reef. Action central. Always worth the effort. At “Mellow Yellow”, in Vatu-I-Ra.
3:07 More soft corals.
3:12 “Fantasea” was a site smashed by Winston; this hole was offered some protection, and looks pretty good when lit up with 14000 Lumens.
3:18 Dotted sweetlip (Plectorhinchus picus) chilling with a Longfin bannerfish (Heniochus acuminatus)
3:23 This was the only male Blue Ribbon Eel (Rhinomuraena quaesita) I saw on the trip—which used to be far more common. This particular guy is missing a nostril.
3:30 Fiji’s own anemonefish, Amphiprion barberi, has been officially named since we left 10 years ago. I’m happy to have contributed to that initial research by helping Dr. Les Kaufman take fin clippings for DNA analysis—non-lethal samples, and the fish were immediately returned to their host anemones.
3:36 Another sneaky little bugger: the endemic Fiji Fangblenny (Plagiotremus flavus) mimics the other Fijian endemic Canary fang blenny (Meiacanthus oualanensis, not shown), then bites passers-by.
3:41 The White-lined rockcod (Anyperodon leucogrammicus) usually hangs below corals waiting to ambush damsels that retreat in its direction. I guess this spot was taken and they don’t like to share.
3:53 Randall’s shrimp goby (Amblyeleotris randalli) is still common in caves and overhangs. Keeping a lookout for his digging mate, the shrimp Alpheus djeddensis
3:59 Tanaka’s wrasse (Wetmorella tanakai) is one of my favourite and most challenging species. While always in caves and crevices, and usually only seen in glimpses, this particular individual was unusually cooperative.
4:07 The Giant moray (Gymnothorax javanicus) rarely does anything but look mean and get cleaned. Nice to see this big fella on the move.
4:15 Another endemic, the Fiji clown blenny (Escenius fijiensis), looking around.
4:19 Random Fiji reefscapes in Vatu-I-Ra to finish off.

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Marcia Jacobson
7 years ago

What a fabulous video! Thank you so much for making and sharing it!

Rosanna Sickels
7 years ago

Hey there, Josh and Liz!
Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and providing us with opportunities and motivation to improve our skills!
Best to you both,
Rosann & Larry

Kay Jensen
7 years ago

Beautiful footage as always Josho

Sam Im not
7 years ago

I can only get 1k at MAX. What gives?

7 years ago
Reply to  Sam Im not

On the video player, click on “HD” (in the lower right corner) to get a list of options for playback resolution

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