PhD research in the Fiji Islands
This is a photograph of the Alpheraus, the survey vessel of the University of the South Pacific. The photograph was taken in the early morning light on route to the Island of Totoya (1994). I travelled to the Island of Totoya as part of a science expedition sponsored by the National Geographic and University of the South Pacific. The island of Totoya is a volcanic Caldera, one of a 3 island group known as the Yasayasa Moala (i.e. Totoya, Moala and Matuku) located at the southern most reaches of the Lau Island archipelago. The aim of this expedition was to undertake research that would assist in better understanding the pre-and-post human settlement of Totoya Island. I was engaged to use my training and experience in Palynology to core the Island’s mangrove swamps, extract and analyse fossil pollen samples and use these to reconstruct an environmental history for the Island. It was our hope that the core depth/time horizon would be adequate to cover the Island’s pre-and-post human settlement history. This turned out to be the case and the research results provide a quite detailed and island-wide perspective on the ecological and biophysical response to human settlement.