The Maltese waters are a key area for a number of marine species including a variety of dolphins and turtles. Conservation around the coastline is high on the agenda for Malta and it’s proud of its local and international participation in Marine conservation.
From a study back in 2013/14 there were numerous animal sightings including 293 sightings of loggerhead turtles, 19 of bottlenose dolphins, 15 of stripped dolphins and 12 sightings of common dolphins which are highly endangered in the Mediterranean. This research clearly showed the importance of the waters surrounding Malta particularly for loggerhead turtles.
Many of these endangered sea turtles die as bycatch in nets or fishing lines which has led to a number of initiatives and implementation of conservation measures. As a result, a number of workshops took place involving fisheries, shipping traffic, tourism, security and nature conservation representatives to discuss measures to protect local Marine life. This was alongside OceanCare’s presentation focusing on threats posed by plastic pollution which has since been highlighted in the media around the world in 2018.
One of the success stories of Turtles in Malta is the hatching of turtles in Gnejna Bay, Malta on the 22nd August 2018. A total of 111 turtles hatched with only one egg remaining unhatched making this one of the most successful turtle hatchings in years with a 99 percent success rate. The Nature Trust and the Environment Resources Authority have said that more turtles could emerge in the coming days following the initial hatching.
In 2016 a total of 66 turtles had hatched at Golden Bay where it was estimated the success rate was approximately 90 percent. It is not the first time turtles have nested at Gnejna Bay, back in 2012 there were a large number of eggs, however, they failed to hatch which many blame on a large summer storm.
The Malta National Aquarium is a great advocate of Marine Conservation in Malta. Located in Qawra, the aquarium offers further insight into local Marine life and ongoing conservation projects, as well as a large array of species to view – well worth a visit if you are staying in Malta.