This trip, designed specifically for school groups, aims to offer an all-round experience in diving and education in the beautiful clear Mediterranean waters that surround Malta.
You will commence your dive training in the UK, before completing your certification in Malta and following up with hands-on conservation work to learn about the threats posed to sharks worldwide and assist with research into populations which can help form conservation strategies.
Sharks are threatened internationally by overfishing and the shark fin trade. The populations have been decreasing at an alarming rate and the repercussions of the demise of an apex predator will have serious implications for other marine animals. Around Malta, research is being conducted into the local population of sharks and other key fish species to keep track of this problem. Whilst there are new protected areas, research is needed to establish and monitor the populations in these areas to determine the effectiveness of the zones. Researchers also frequent the local fish markets to look for shark species, in particular the female sharks of certain species which may be carrying egg cases. These can be rescued and taken to the local aquarium where they will be hatched, and the shark pups then released..
Your group will learn key information to help assist with shark research in Maltese waters. Working alongside researchers, you will primarily be helping to conduct the population research whilst scuba diving along transects. You will also have the opportunity to visit the fish markets to gain an understanding of the scale of the problem.
Conservation activities during the trip include:
Assisting with local shark research by searching for Elasmobranch eggcases both on shore and underwater.
Learning how to record the location of eggcases underwater so that researchers can monitor development.
Learning to identify different species of sharks and rays to record sightings made whilst diving.
Recording details of sharks and rays seen whilst diving to provide information for shark researchers.
Day1: Fly to Malta
On arrival in Malta, you will be met and transferred to your self-catering accommodation in St Paul’s. You will then head to the dive centre to get your kit allocated and familiarise yourselves with the diving equipment.
Once you have finished at the dive centre, the group will head out for food provisions for next couple of days, and then perhaps take a walk to explore the area around St Paul’s Bay which is a ten minute walk from the apartments.
Days2-3: Reef Referral Open Water completion in Malta
The exact location of your shore dives can vary depending on the weather, but it is likely that you will head to the Circewwa area for your dives today. You will have an instructor who will work with you in small groups to teach you all the dive skills necessary to make you a competent diver. After a short refresher of the skills you will have already learnt before the trip, your instructor will take you into the sea to complete your four open water dives. The focus of these dives is to ensure you are project ready.
As you descend in the warm water, you can expect to see plenty of scorpion fish, bream, and fire-worms. Your first two dives will be to a maximum depth of 12 metres, and on the second day, your maximum depth will be 18 metres.
Upon completion of the Open Water Diver course you will have a dive certification which will last for life, enabling you to dive all over the world.
Day4: Boat dives
Today you will head out to complete two dives from a boat, allowing you to access other very interesting dive sites, and it is hoped that one of these dives will be on a wreck. Weather permitting, the plan is to take the boat out north of Malta towards the small uninhabited island of Comino. You will complete one dive on the way over, and get to see the difference in the marine life. It is likely that you will see octopuses, and moray eels on your dive. After your fist dive, you will head to the Blue Lagoon on Comino for your surface interval and lunch. Once you are rested, you will head out for your second dive. Close to the Blue Lagoon is the wreck of the P31, an intentionally sunk wreck which sits in 18 metres. This will provide you with a great opportunity to practise your buoyancy skills.
Today you will start your project with Shark Lab. You will be diving in a newly created marine protection area. At present there is no research into the populations of fish in these areas. There is also no enforcement of the marine protected areas so research is needed to monitor fish populations. You will split into small diving groups and collect fish population information by swimming along transects.
During each of your dives, you will each have a different responsibility for example, one person can focus on the navigation, another could take photographs of fish seen, whilst the other two are responsible for recording the sightings. The information you collect will help to ascertain the overall effectiveness of the Marine Protected Areas, and if this information shows a continual decline of fish over the coming years, it can be used to help sanction enforcement measures to help protect the area.
You will complete four dives in total for your project. At the end of each day you should work together to collate your findings and write up your research at the end of each day.
Day7: Dry day
There are no dives today as you are flying back tomorrow. This morning, the group will get a very early start to head to the local commercial fish market.
This part of your project with Shark Lab aims to assist them with their ongoing projects into eggcases of sharks and skates. Part of the project is involved with actively seeking eggcases (also known as mermaid's purses) at the fish market. All Elasmobranch (sharks and rays) produce eggcases when reproducing. In many species, these eggcases remain inside the female throughout development. However, a few species lay eggcases in sheltered areas. Sadly many sharks get caught by fishermen – sharks which are protected species are confiscated, and the jaws used for educational purposes. You will finish at the fish market between 4 and 4:30 am and will be back at the apartments by 5 am.
A trip to the Malta Aquarium is included, and you will get to see the shark pups which have been rescued. The aquarium is about a 20-25 minute walk from the apartments, and will allow you to see some underwater creatures you may not have seen during your dives.
For the rest of the day, the group will be able to see some other areas of Malta, such as the impressive walled city of Mdina with its narrow streets, and the neighbouring city of Rabat which is home to the Wignacourt Catacombs. In the same area are 50 World War II shelters which were dug out to house the local population.
Day8: Fly back to the UK
Our trip ideas are offered to inspire you and can be tailored to suit your requirements.
When to go: Apr-Oct: Departures throughout the year. Best dived in summer months.
Included in the price/package:
Flights from the UK
6 nights accommodation in self-catering apartments
Pre-tour PADI Open Water Referral training and materials
PADI Open Water certification dives (4 shore dives)
4 shore project dives
2 boat dives
Located at the heart of the Mediterranean, the English speaking nation of Malta offers year round sunshine and an intriguing history. Consisting of three islands, each has its own characteristics and a spectacular variety of dive sites, mainly famed for wrecks and caves.
Ideal for viewing: Atlantic bluefin tuna, common octopus
Excellent for: Resort based diving, Family diving, Group diving, Learn to dive, Shore diving, Wreck diving
The tiny island of Comino has a lot to offer, with great opportunities for all, whether you enjoy snorkelling, want to learn, continue your education or explore the magnificent walls and caves – a magical place for underwater photographers.
Ideal for viewing: Atlantic bluefin tuna, common octopus