Australian tropical fish recorded for the first time inside Maltese waters

The Azure damoiselle is very popular with the aquarium industry as a hardy and attractive species and was recorded for the first time from Maltese waters in shallow waters in Marsamaxett Harbour

The Azure damoiselle
The Azure damoiselle

A new fish species has entered Maltese waters: the Azure damoiselle (Chrysiptera hemicyanea), a tropical fish native to the western and north-western waters of Australia and Indonesia.

According to biologist Alan Deidun, this fish was recorded for the first time from Maltese waters and the entire Mediterranean, by Daniel de Castro on video during a dive in shallow waters in Marsamaxett Harbour last summer.

The report was submitted to the Spot the Alien Fish campaign, a citizen science campaign coordinated by Prof. Deidun and the Department of Geosciences of the University of Malta.

“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,” Deidun said. “This is the fourth 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.

Amateur, sports and professional fishermen, as well as scuba divers, snorkelers and the public in general are solicited to trackmarine alien species in Maltese waters by contributing any reports to [email protected] over email (aliensmalta.eu, [email protected]) or through the campaign Facebook page.

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