Road Scholar is a different sort of travel agency. They offer educational tours with renowned experts in the ﬁeld that provide a greater experience than your average tourist can normally expect. Their primary clientele are American senior citizens with a thirst for knowledge and adventure. Paradise Taveuni has been pleased to host oceanographer Lora Van Uffelen as she shares the underwater world with her band of Road Scholars.
Lora specializes in ocean acoustics, the way sound travels through water. Her research focuses on how marine mammals, such as whales and dolphins, use ocean acoustics to communicate with each other and how we can use their natural communication networks to learn more about these elusive creatures. Her study aims to help create an autonomous sea glider, a robotic submersible, that will be able to travel through the seas gathering information about marine mammals following them by sound. She has worked in oceans around the world from San Diego to Taiwan and the Philippines.
For her travels to Fiji she got back to the basics, teaching how the vast ocean works circulating currents in a giant ecosystem. Each day the Road Scholars have gone snorkeling at a different location observing a piece of that ecosystem. Lora’s ﬁnal talk explained how the ocean is changing from ocean acidiﬁcation to overﬁshing. Sea-level rise will soon bring climate refugees from Kiribati to Fiji as their islands become inundated by water. Lora focused particularly on plastics which break down in the oceans to the size of microscopic plankton and are in turn ingested by ﬁlter feeders like baleen whales and many other creatures. Her talk moved us at Paradise to think about how we too can limit the amount of plastic we use.
To learn more about the Road Scholars program here in Fiji you can visit their website at: http://www.roadscholar.org/n/program/summary.aspx?id=1%2D4LRKSL
To learn more about the impact of plastics, check: