The Malta Independent 13 November 2018, Tuesday

A deluge of alien fish species in Maltese waters

Wednesday, 28 June 2017, 09:09 Last update: about 2 years ago

The arrival and establishment of new species - the so-called non-indigenous, exotic or alien species, is an unrelenting phenomenon which is picking up pace even further due to further globalisation in shipping routes, offshore platforms such as oil rigs which enter our ports for maintenance work and an upsurge in the tropical aquarium trade.

Over the past few weeks, in fact, the Spot the Alien Fish campaign have received reports of three new fish records for Maltese and Sicilian waters – i.e. Por’s goat fish (Upeneuspori), the Guinea angelfish (Holacanthus africanus) and the Azure damselfish (Chrysipterahemicyanea). Whilst the Guinea angelfish is an Atlantic ingression, the other two species are Lessepsian in nature – i.e. they have entered the Mediterranean through the Suez Canal. These new records are currently in press in peer-reviewed journals.

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The scientific team behind the Spot the Alien Fish campaign have managed to record the following species from Maltese waters in the past few years: the Australian spotted jellyfish, the nomadic jellyfish, the African moonfish, the African hind, the blue swimmer crab, the Indo-Pacific flatworm, the fang-tooth moray eel, the Sergeant-major, the deep-sea rockfish, the silver-cheeked toadfish and the redcoat. Information on these species can be gleaned online from: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Alan_Deidun

The Spot the Alien Fish, coordinated by Prof. Alan Deidun from the Department of Geosciences of the University of Malta, is a citizen science campaign launched in December 2016 which allows the public to submit records of alien fish through a tailor-made website (www.aliensmalta.eu), social media page () or through email ([email protected]) or mobile phone (79604109). A user-friendly splash-proof, A3 poster featuring 36 non-indigenous fish species has been printed and widely disseminated to all local diving clubs, fishing clubs and interested members of the public.

The campaign is jointly led by the University of Malta, the International Ocean Institute (IOI), the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture and ISPRA of Italy. The Spot the Alien Fish actively collaborates with the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) by sharing its records of such species and regularly organises public talks on the thematic of alien species.

The next such talk is being jointly organised by the PDSA (Professional Diving Schools Association of Malta) and by FUAM (Federation of Underwater Activities Malta) next Friday 30th June at 7pm, at the ATLAM club premises in Baharic-Caghaq. Attendance is free of charge. 

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