University research group discovers new alien fish species

The University of Malta’s conservation biology research group has discovered the Niger Hind - an eastern Atlantic fish species usually found along the west African coast - in Mediterranean waters

The Niger Hind is an eastern Atlantic fish species usually found along the west African coast
The Niger Hind is an eastern Atlantic fish species usually found along the west African coast

The University of Malta’s conservation biology research group has discovered the Niger Hind in Mediterranean waters.

The Niger Hind (Cephalopholis nigri) is an eastern Atlantic fish species usually found along the west African coast.

According to the University, the conservation research group, led by Adriana Vella, has been actively working directly with fishermen and sea-users as part of the long-term research effort for monitoring and understanding the changes of local species and their marine environment.

A report which considers the morphological and genetic analyses of the first record of the Niger Hind, in the Mediterranean Sea, has already been published in the scientific peer-reviewed journal Marine Biodiversity Records, in a paper jointly authored by Vella herself, Noel Vella and Sandra Agius Darmanin. 

“The scientific members of this research team are all active in field and laboratory research themselves while they carefully investigate queries regarding unusual creatures or occurrences out at sea brought forward by sea-users. This sustains a mutually useful dialogue where fishermen, scuba-divers, swimmers, sailors may better understand the ongoing changes and the requirements for a healthy marine environment,” the University said in a statement.

The Armed Forces of Malta, Transport Malta, local fishermen, scuba divers and the NGO BICREF have contributed to the conservation-oriented effort that led to the Niger Hind's discovery. 

The University added that there is a serious concern that increasing number of new alien species may change local communities. “This needs to be dealt with responsibly, focusing on local species at the centre of the knowledge gaining efforts,” it said. “For this reason, these new scientific discoveries of alien species in the Mediterranean are added to the various other discoveries and efforts this active research group has been producing through the years while informing the public in general of ongoing long-term conservation investigative efforts.”

In July, the same research group discovered two new alien species in the Mediterranean - the lowfin chub and the lionfish.

The conservation research group welcomes queries on further information by contacting Adriana Vella by email on [email protected] or on 99429592.

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