Research & Conservation

Snorkelling in Malta

In this month’s blog post we will show you the beautiful fish you can spot while snorkelling in Malta. The Malta National Aquarium is home to a big variety of local species, so read about them here before your next trip to us, or your next snorkel session at your local bay.


The Bream family

The Malta National Aquarium is home to a few types of bream, including;

  • Two branded bream
  • Annular bream
  • Saddled bream

Bream love rocky bays and seagrass, so you will find them swimming in bays, coves and rocky inlets around the Maltese Islands

Saddled bream like to stay close to the surface, so this species is often targeted by pole fishermen. It is a species of fish which you will find in many seafood menus and is considered a sustainable fish to eat. They are silver in colour, and you can spot the saddled bream by the black spot in the area between its main body and the tail. They can grow up to 30cm long. Fun Fact: The Maltese name, Kaħlija, means “The blue girl.”

The annular bream’s main difference in appearance is a spikier look. Contrary to the annular bream, this species has a fin going through its back and underbelly. They also have spectacular golden lines going through their body. Fun Fact: It can often be found following species that dig into the sand, looking for a free meal by stealing their food!

The two banded bream is easy to differentiate because, yes you guessed it, it has two black bands around its body. One is located near its head, and the other near the tail.

The two banded bream
The two banded sea bream is easy to identify. This capture shows both bands.


The next time you go for a snorkel, try and identify the different sea breams that swim past you. Gorgeous as they look, their mouths contain tiny but sharp incisors, around eight in total. The sea bream around popular dive sites have become quite used to human presence, which is slightly alarming considering these fish are fished out so regularly for food, so some might get up close and personal to you.



Perhaps the most common species you will see is the Mediterranean Chromis. Even as you stand near the water on the shore, you will literally see hundreds of these. They appear dark silver and black and have a two-pronged tail. They are also caught in fishing, however more likely to be used as cat food, or perhaps bait to attract larger species. The most interesting fact we can muster about this fish is that the female can lay up to 75,000 eggs! Once laid, it is the male’s job to protect the eggs, which as you’d imagine can be quite the busy job!

Mediterranean Chromis
You’ll see hundreds of Mediterranean Chromis on a snorkelling trip


A dose of good news

Remember the story we ran of Tehlequah, the whale who carried her dead calf for 17 days before releasing her? Well… we’ve got good news to share. The Orca has given birth again! Her newborn is healthy and swimming well according to researchers and the mother’s in fine form too!

Orca pregnancies last 17 months and they typically give birth every three to ten years. Tehlequah has done well to reproduce again after a relatively short time span. She will spend the next two years nursing her calf to full strength and we look forward to sharing more updates as the little family continues their journey through our deep oceans.