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May 29, 2016

An encounter with alien species

BY: Ilaria Vielmini



Winds from the south-east and north-west met and mixed today near Malta. This is a joy for the sailing boat but a problem for the Ranger as the wind is too strong and the waves are too high to manoeuvre the ROV. We opted to work along the coast so we could continue with the mapping of sandbanks, one of the key habitats we are working on along the Maltese bays before these bays get too crowded for the summer season.

Today we mapped the Blue Lagoon in Comino. It is a pretty small bay which is very shallow and, despite the mooring site around the bay, the area is reasonably well conserved, as proved by the presence of ecosystems which are important for some coastal fish like Posidonia and Cymodocea meadows.

However, we have also encountered the presence of two alien species that were introduced in the Mediterranean some decades ago now, an alien species of Caulerpa and the alien plant Halophila stipulacea. This raised our concerns and once again such an encounter has reminded me of the importance of the work we are carrying out to preserve the marine ecosystem in the Mediterranean and in the oceans.