Research & Conservation

7 forms of single use plastic banned from entering Malta

Now this was one way to kick off a healthy New Year! 2021 started with great local news as seven forms of single use plastic are now officially banned from importation to the Maltese Islands. 

The ban applies to:

  • Plastic bags
  • Cutlery
  • Straws
  • Plates
  • Cotton Buds
  • Food containers
  • Stirrers

These products will now be phased out on the islands, meaning we will see less of them pollute our beaches and countryside! 

“It is high time that we give answers to our children who ask about all the litter on our beaches, who see photos of washed-up seagulls with stomachs full of plastic products, and injured turtles caught up in plastic bags,” Environmental Minister Aaron Farrugia said.



Rising sea temperatures causing premature shark births

2021 kicks off with a sterning warning from The Great Barrier Reefs: rising sea temperatures are going to wreak havoc to shark populations. Scientists down-under studied the effects of sea temperature on the length of time Epaulette sharks spend in their egg cases, and the result was shocking.

In normal temperatures, considered to be cool at 27 degrees celsius, sharks took an average of 125 days to hatch. In higher temperatures, at 31 degrees celsius, they took 100 days. A 25 difference in such a short incubation period is huge. 

Sharks that spend less time in their cases due to heat eat through their egg yolk faster than the other samples and this affects their energy levels. Being born earlier makes them weaker, and weaker pups can lead to weaker adults. More importantly however, weaker pups are easier targets for predators and are more likely to fall victim to other perils in the ocean. To help you understand this more, premature human babies require much more extensive care in their earlier weeks. The strain on a whole species can be huge if this problem is not addressed.

This study revolves around one species, however the results might be applicable to other species too and the world needs sharks. They are apex predators of the ocean and are vital for balance. Every single species has a purpose in the wild, and sharks certainly have theirs. 

Sharks evolve at a very slow pace, so it is unlikely the species will be able to react in a timely manner to rising sea temperatures. This means it is entirely up to us. Scientists from James Cook University were clear: “These species can disappear off the planet”… seven words which ring like alarms. 


But ended with a discovery of a new species of whale

Did you know that offspring of the famed Megalodon shark were larger than humans? The size of birth is now estimated to be around 2.5 meters! Imagine what our oceans looked like all those millions of years ago! To think this world was once populated by giants is so exciting, we definitely need to do more to ensure our current giants keep thriving too!

The tooth of a fully grown Megalodon