Sunday, May 17, 2015

Behind the Scenes Tour- Malta National Aquarium

Aside from beaches, the Malta Aquarium has to be our most frequented place in Malta that we go as a family. It is solitude from winter gloom and a retreat from summer heat. It teaches. It relaxes. It amazes each of us in our own way.

The playground keeps the kids thrilled, but so do the fish. I love that they are both so familiar and at home at the aquarium.
This weekend, we were thrilled with the treat of a group behind the scenes tour, organized by the embassy PA, a great friend of ours. Over 20 joined, split into two groups. Greg, the founder of Sharklab-Malta, a nonforprofit founded here, gave the first presentation on sharks. While Dan, the curator of the Aquarium took us on a guided tour behind the scenes at the aquarium.
Sharklab-Malta is very active here in conservation. It began with Greg noticing egg capsules peeking from the bodies of dead mother sharks at the fish markets. He took some home, watched they were still developing, and the rest is conservation history. The foundation has now released back into the wild, almost 100 pup sharks, hatched and reared by volunteers of Sharklab. Sharks are somewhat like chickens, constantly developing eggs, but the egg getting only a vessel (not continued nutrition) from the mother. So even though the mothers are dead, the egg capsules (if fertilized) can live and continue to develop for over 7 days after the mother has died. Of course, conditions need to be right, but Sharklab-Malta is doing a great job learning those conditions and giving something back to the sea. 

We attended a baby shark release a few months ago, here.
Greg kept the kids enthralled and learning, as he taught us all about some different topics of the over 500 species of sharks in the world.

Dan, the Aquarium curator, showed us the "off limits" areas of the aquarium. We enjoyed seeing Sharklabs baby shark pups, some just a day old. We also learned about feeding, water quality condition necessities and various other interesting points of the aquarium, quarantines and reproduction.

 EVERYONE had a great time and learned a lot! Anxious to see how excited the girls are the next time we visit the shark pups now that they've learned more about them.

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