The Malta Independent 22 October 2018, Monday

New year, new fish species for our waters

Tuesday, 2 January 2018, 07:56 Last update: about 11 months ago

Enter the Azure damoiselle (Chrysipterahemicyanea), a tropical fish native to the western and north-western waters of Australia and Indonesia…..recorded for the first time from Maltese waters and from the entire Mediterranean! This single individual was caught on video by Daniel de Castro during a dive in shallow waters in Marsamaxett Harbour last summer, and the report was submitted to the Spot the Alien Fish campaign.

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This citizen science campaign is coordinated by Prof. Alan Deidun from the Department of Geosciences of the University of Malta and is funded by the International Ocean Institute (IOI) and the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture. The Azure damoiselle normally occurs in small shoals at shallow depths and is very popular with the aquarium industry since it’s a hardy and attractive species.

According to Prof. Deidun, this is the 4th tropical fish species of Indo-Pacific origin recorded for the first time from Maltese waters by the Spot the Alien Fish campaign, following the yellow-bar angelfish, the redcoat and the silver-cheeked toadfish. A few months ago, the same citizen science campaign recorded yet another fish species for the first time for the Mediterranean – this time the Guinea angelfish, which is of Atlantic origin – bringing the confirmed total of non-indigenous species known from our waters to well over 80. The first record of the Azure demoiselle from Maltese and Mediterranean waters has been accepted for publication in the Acta Ichthyologica et Piscatoria journal.

Amateur, sports and professional fishermen, as well as SCUBA divers, snorkelers and the public in general are solicited to keep helping science and the tracking of marine alien species in Maltese waters by contributing any reports (including photos, videos and preserved specimens) of non-indigenous marine species (not necessarily fish) to the Spot the Alien Fish campaign either through the campaign website (www.aliensmalta.eu), over email ([email protected], [email protected]) or through the campaign facebook page.

 

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