[VIDEO] Shark pups released in Cirkewwa

Three bottom-feeder sharks hatched at National Aquarium released into the wild this morning, six months after being discovered in a Valletta fish market

Three 'pups' from a shark species known as the Nursehound, or Gattarell tar-Rukkal in Maltese, were this morning released into the Cirkewwa sea in a joint operation between Sharklab Malta and the Malta National Aquarium.

Brought in a temperature-controlled bucket by the Malta National Aquarium, the pups were then carefully transferred in sea-temperature containers before being handed to awaiting divers.

The six-months old pups, as the young of the shark are known, were then carefully released into an area where they will have the best chance of survival, in an area suited to their natural habitat.

A sizeable crowd of volunteers and conservationists braved the wet weather at South Quay Cirkewwa to bid farewell to the sharks, six months after they were brought to the Malta National Aquarium.

"The collected eggs were recovered from dead sharks at the fish market and were subsequently passed to the Malta National Aquarium," Malta National Aquarium curator Mike Hutchison explained.

The pups are the result of an embryological project which began as part of research conducted by Sharklab-Malta for data collection at the wholesale fish market in Valletta where members removed any present eggs and place them into a controlled environment to support development through to hatching.

"Once successfully hatched, the Aquarium and Sharklab closely monitored the pups to help them grow in a healthy manner," he said.

"Being top predators, the sharks are likely to survive in the wild," Hutchison explained.

However, he reassured  that the pups pose no danger to humans as they are bottom feeders and feed on a diet of plankton and small crab meat.

The Nursehound sharks are expected to grow approximately one metre in size and tend to live for around ten years.

Meanwhile, the Malta National Aquarium curator also held that last week, four other shark pups hatched at the Aquarium.

"These will be closely monitored and taken care of, before being released when they reach six months."

 Also present for the release were Parliamentary Secretary for Fisheries and Animal Rights Roderick Galdes and Malta Tourism Authority Chairman Gavin Gulia.

Taking part in the release of the sharks along with Sharklab-Malta were the Aquarium sponsors; Maltaqua Dive Centre, M&A Dive Gear Supplies, and main sponsor Aqualung. 

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This was a good initiative, but all this effort would be futile unless fishermen stop using "pariti", which kill indiscriminately and cause massive amounts of damage to coral and fish populations alike.

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