Research & Conservation

Squid eggs spotted in Cirkewwa

The months of March and April are fantastic months for scuba diving around the Maltese islands.

As we start to welcome the summer sun back to our shores, the days get longer and the bright skies mean we won’t freeze as we change out of our wetsuits. You’ll enjoy fewer boats in the sea than in the summer months, far less tourists and most often you’ll have the dive site to yourself.

Scuba diving is the best way to enjoy our marine environments. There you are, deep underwater where no one can distract you, talk to you or even call you on your mobile. The silence is relaxing and as you are completely immersed in your new environment you can study nature from her own perspective. Diving enables you get up close and personal with fish and view them in their own habitat, as they go about their daily chores.

I was delighted to take a dive to the Rozi in Cirkewwa and even more so as I saw something incredible. Hanging onto the bows of the old sunken tug boat were a cluster of squid eggs, and the best is yet to come.

Beautiful, soft and delicate: a new generation of squids is on its way.

This is the third season running our team has spotted squid eggs on the same wreck, in different locations, and this speaks volumes of the importance of these artificially scuttled marine wrecks which create perfect habitats and reefs for our sea creatures and their budding families.

Fortunately enough we have loads of these wrecks scattered around the Maltese islands, and if you visit them regularly enough you do begin to see patterns forming. An example is the moray eel I always see port side on the stern of the P29, also in Cirkewwa.

Can you spot the spotted eel?

Divers are the best protectors of the marine environment because we learn how to take care of our species and how to dive with minimal stresses created marine life. In the scuba dive course you are taught how to take care of the underwater world and how to interact with fish and other species, from a safe distant. You are told never to touch, pester or scare marine wildlife in anyway. The squid eggs were a brilliant reminder of just how delicate and fragile nature really is. There they were just flapping in the current, and I hope no diver gets to close, as it is too easy to brush them off and destroy a whole generation of new and upcoming Mediterranean squid.

If you happen to enjoy diving and spot any interesting wildlife, feel free to get in touch with us and we can tell you how to take best care of them while diving.

Introducing our newest species: the mudskipper

Now that’s a cool name, and in this case, the creature behind it lives up to the hype! We’re proud to introduce you to the newest members of our clan: Mudskippers! The mudskipper is a fish that spends most of its life out of the sea!

Their other main skill: skipping! This is how they get around on the mud shore and land. They are suited for both environments and this is a strong point to make as it means the species has adapted over the centuries to be strong in two environments. A mudskipper lives in intertidal habitats, meaning an area which is affected by tidal differences – so their adaptation to live on sea and land is ideal as their territory has a bit of both. They absorb oxygen through their skin, but need to keep it moist, so the mud is the perfect solution and they do spend 90% of their day out of the water. They keep moist by doing what seems like the most fun job in the world: rolling in the mud!

Come and find me at the Malta National Aquarium

Their third, and perhaps most impressive skill is their ability to jump! Males do so in order to attract a mate and can jump up to 50cm high, which is an enormous leap for a creature with no legs! They hope their skillful acrobatics are enough to attract a female, and let’s face it… who won’t be impressed by a jumping fish?

Come and check out our leaping, mud based fish that spend most of their lives out of the sea!

A new species of Orca whales has been discovered

We love news of new species, and we couldn’t wait to share this one with you. Scientists daring to explore the most dangerously inhospitable seas on our planet have discovered a totally new species of Orca Whale: The Type-D Orcas.

The Type-D Orca was always a legend among sailors and fishermen alike as no photos or documentation was recorded of them. They had originally been sighted washed up around New Zealand way back in 1955s by fishermen, but remained elusive to scientists until now. They live in the bottom of our world in the roughest seas out there and have a different appearance to other orcas.

They were discovered in Cape Horn, 60 miles of Chile’s most southern tip in an area infamous for having the world’s worst weather. Scientists were surprised to find a pod thriving in their habitat, owing to such conditions, but have now dubbed it as the best place to hide from science.

Our oceans are the gifts that just keep giving and we are still making huge discoveries like this one. These guys have a more rounder head and narrower dorsal fin. They are shorter than their comrades and have a small white patch around their eyes. Perhaps because their newly found habitat is so dangerous for life, they have found the perfect home to be the apex predator. Orcas eat seals and minke whales but around Chile these have found a unique way of hunting. They tend to consume the fish trapped in fishing nets.

It is a truly remarkable discovery, owing to the fact that the subantarctic is just so inhospitable due to the high winds and rough seas. The Type D orcas have also been called Subantarctic Killer Whales, hinting their location in the name.

Clean up alert: Fighting against plastic and debris

Here’s a date for your diary: March 23rd. We’re hosting a clean up at Ta Fra Ben from 12pm onwards. Come and join us in keeping this unique bay clean! Look out for our flag there and get more news by following The Malta National Aquarium on Facebook!

You get the energy, we’ll bring the gloves and bags!

Following us on facebook and twitter will also give you access to the recent footage shot by the National Geographic here at the Malta National Aquarium and we can’t wait to show you the images and footage!

If Instagram is more you, check us out for our best recycling tips, fun facts and cool photos!