|Coral Reef Shrimps of Fiji|
|Fiji’s Tuna – Today and for the Future|
|Shallow Water Marine Fishes|
FRESHWATER EELS OF FIJI
Eels are scaleless fish shaped like snakes, with long dorsal and anal fins that extend onto the tail. Freshwater eels belong mostly to the family Anguillidae, and go down to the sea to breed, returning as smaller versions known as ‘elvers’ that swim against currents and up waterfalls to return to their natural habitats.They are common in all streams and rivers in Fiji, and form an important component of the diet in some places, especially the highlands of the two main islands,Vitilevu andVanualevu.Although their flesh is tasty, they are rarely found in markets, and never in restaurants or hotels.
The people of Korolevu, on the upper Sigatoka River towards the centre of the main island of Vitilevu, keep and feed large eels in a pond near the village, and claim to be able to call them, while people of Lovoni, in the centre of the island of Ovalau, also feed tame eels in the river that flows through the village. In the chiefly village of Mabula on Cicia in northern Lau, the migration of freshwater eels to spawn is a highly anticipated annual event, occurring in the rainy season around March.
Moray eels lack pectoral fins and usually inhabit coral reefs and lagoons. Despite their reputation for being ferocious, they are much sought after by Fijians because of their tastiness, being nicknamed ‘vuaka ni waitui’ (pork of the sea). Some species can be poisonous, notably the dabea (Gymnothorax javankus) and a number of deaths have occurred recently in Fiji from moray eel poisoning.There is one freshwater moray eel, which is featured this set.
The most common generic name for freshwater eels in Fiji is tuna or, in parts of Eastern Fiji, its variant duna.The name rewai is also fairly widespread in parts of Eastern Fiji, including Rewa and the Muala group of western Lau.A common expression originating from Rewa is vakavuti ma rewed, literally ‘when eels have hair’, meaning never – rather like the English ‘when pigs fly’ or ‘when hell freezes over’.
In Fiji, as in many other Pacific islands, particularly in Polynesia, an ancient legend is told of a gigantic eel that was raised by a loving family in a pool near their house, but turned vicious and threatened to eat the family members, or ravished the daughter. The father eventually chopped its head off, and buried it just outside their house. (In some versions, the eel offered itself up to be killed). From this grave grew the first ever coconut tree. In memory of its origin, the coconut shell still displays the eyes and mouth of the eel.
A fascinating eel is the Soya, believed to be found only in the lake of Vuaqava island, near Kabara in Southern Lau. It is semi that if you whisper it will hear you and hide, but if you make a lot of
noise it will not hear you, and be easy to catch. Unfortunately, no specimen has yet been obtained to determine its scientific identity.
Another notable eel, called tautaubale (the walker) or balebalekoro (hill-crosser), among many other names, is dark with large pectoral fins and leaves freshwater to slither over hills and valleys for many miles, by dint of releasing small quantities of vvater from its mouth as it goes to keep its stomach slippery.
There are a number of traditional ways of catching eels. One is simply to feel with the hand in the mud where one is suspected to be hiding – known as buburu – or in a cave or under an overhang (taraduna). If the cave is particularly deep, a stick known as an Mesa is inserted to force the eel from its hiding place. Eels are also frequently caught in nets, weirs, and bamboo fish-traps (vuvu).The people of Rewa and Noco specialise in catching eels with a lemonthorn hook line left overnight with a mangrove crab as bait, known as a mated.
There are believed to be at
O. least six freshwater eels in Faq.The following more common eels are featured in this set.
badamu Anguilla obscura.This is the most common eel, long and slender and grey with a reddish tinge (hence the name, dame meaning ‘reddish’), found from mangrove swamps to marshland, lakes and the smallest streams.
dlria Anguilla marmorata. This is a large, full-bodied and highly esteemed freshwater eel with many small black, white and yellow spots giving its body a mottled appearance – indeed its main Fijian name means ‘the spotted one’. It is commonly found under rocks in larger rivers, and is less aggressive than the badamu.
dadarikai Gymnothorax polyuranodon. This common black and white striped moray eel is the only freshwater species found in Fiji, frequenting the rocks of faster-flowing streams. Unlike other moray eels, it is not particularly esteemed as food by Fijian and is indeed taboo in some places, or simply not eaten. Like all eels, it can deliver a vicious bite, especially during the season when reeds flower (around February to April).
|Fiji’s Duna (Freshwater Eels)|
|Sharks of Fiji|
|Bigeye Thresher shark – Alopias superciliosus||Blacktip Reek Shark – Carcharhinus melanopterus|
|Oceanic Whitetip Shark – Carcharhinus longimanus||Silky Shark – Carcharhinus falciformis|
|Brown Marbled Grouper – Epinephelus fuscoguttatus||Camouflage Grouper – Epinephelus polyphekadion|
|Leopard Coral Grouper – Plectropomus leopardus||Squaretail Coral Grouper – Plectropomus areolatus|
|Fiji Trigger Fish|
|Clown Triggerfish Balistoides conspicillum||White-banded-Triggerfish-Rhinecanthus-aculeatus-|