Report | June 23, 2017
Recent evidence that the deep sea around Malta is a biodiversity hotspot
Recent ROV surveys of deep-sea areas around the Maltese Islands resulted in the discovery of highly diverse habitats, including extensive rocky areas dominated by living cold water corals and gorgonians at depths of 300–1000 m, a sub-fossil lithistid sponge reef at a depth of ca. 300 m, deep-water caves located at 270–450 m, and vast expanses of soft-bottom habitats, each of which had a rich variety of associated fauna. Most of these habitats are of high conservation interest, highlighting the need for the establishment of offshore marine protected areas in order to protect these very diverse, but highly vulnerable, deep-sea habitats.