On our first week in Fiji, we visited Makogai Island as part of the Captain Cook Cruise. On the island, we met the Fiji Ministry of Fisheries who showed us their giant clam and hawksbill turtle nursery.

Ministry of Fisheries in Makogai Island
Ben showing around Makogai

Protecting the giant clams are so important because they are filter-feeders and are essential in the reef ecosystem. They filter hundreds of gallons of water per day removing plankton and other organic matter. Giant clams also serve as shelters to other species and they play an import role in reef building.

Giant Clam in Makogai
Atu and I playing around the giant clam in Makogai.

Because of over-harvesting, giant clams are endangered in Fiji. The shells are highly priced going for thousands of dollars. And the meat is a local delicacy and is said to be delicious. Because of human consumption, there was a drastic decline in the giant clam population in Fiji so the breeding program was established.

Some of the giant clams bred in Makogai are sent to different locations around Fiji. On our last week in Fiji, we got to visit Tavarua Island where some of the giant clams went.

Tavarua Island is known as the iconic heart-shaped island in Fiji. It is close to the main Fijian island, Viti Levu. They are also known for their water sports activities like surfing, snorkeling, and kayaking.

Beautiful blue water and white sand in Tavarua
Beautiful blue water and white sand in Tavarua

But I think the best thing about Tavarua is how they live up to be the island resort with a heart. Their conservation efforts and love for the environment is very impressive and is something that should be replicated around Fiji. I say this because of their sustainability efforts Tavarua. They have their own giant clam nursery and a marine protected area!

The giant clams from Makogai aren’t just transferred here then left alone. Instead, they actually have systems in place to make sure the giant clams grow and are protected.

Giant Clam nursery in Tavarua
Tavarua’s nursery is strictly monitored to ensure conditions are favorable for the giant clam’s growth.

They plant the baby giant clams on slabs made of cement and rocks. The slabs are then placed in a tank where they are monitored. Water temperature is kept at 25 degrees Celcius in the tank. This is the most favorable temperature for them to thrive. Every so often the clams are also checked against snail predators.

Tavarua giant clam cages underwater.
We visited the Tavarua’s Marine Protected Area and saw these giant clam cages underwater.

After a year in the nursery, the giant clams are transferred to the island’s Marine Protected Area . They are kept in a cage while they grow bigger. This is to protect them from animal and human predators.

Marine Protected Area in Tavarua

It’s so cool that we got to see the entire cycle of their breeding program. Tavarua Island Resort is definitely one of those resorts that give importance to the environment. I hope more resorts in Fiji follow suit by invest more in keeping the reefs healthy!