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Flippers and strange, long mouth

By Theresa Ralogaivau SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, July 8, 2010) – Three weeks on and most villagers of Valeni, Naiqaqi and Laucala in Wailevu West, Cakaudrove, are too worried about the sighting of a strange marine creature to go out diving or fishing.

Naiqaqi Village headman Jepeca Nakuvu said villagers were sticking to land because they were too concerned about their safety to risk their lives for seafood.

"There’s been no diving, no fishing or gathering seafood from where the creature was spotted," he said. "We’ve gone out looking for it, but not finding it has made it even worse because we are just not sure if it has gone completely."

Ateca Disukavanua, 52 who spotted the creature while out fishing said it was something she’d never seen before. She returned to her fishing spot with the Fiji Times this week, the first time since she spotted the creature.

Mrs. Disukavanua carefully treaded ankle-deep water, saying she still felt fear when she recalled the events of the day she had been fishing near a small mangrove island called Likudogo.

"At first I thought it was a log but then it moved closer and I was so scared because the water was up to my waist I jumped on top of a mangrove stump," she said.

"I hung on to that mangrove tree for about an hour and the creature, which was about two metres long, had flippers like that of a turtle and had a strange long mouth.

"It moved along the seabed - I had never seen such a thing before in my life.

"I was trembling because it kept hanging around as if it could smell the place where I was standing.

"I only climbed down when the tide went out and the water was only ankle deep."

Disukavanua said word of the sighting had spread and stories had been distorted to the extent that she’d been chased by the creature.

"It didn’t chase or run after me and maybe that’s why many are not going to fish," she said.

The police interviewed the villagers after a complaint was lodged with them.

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