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Introductory Course in Marine Biology by the University of Malta:
an important contribution to increasing knowledge on our marine life


Greater awareness and knowledge of marine life and its conservation are necessary for sustainable development. More than ever before, goods and services of benefit to humans are increasingly sought for the sea while there is a growing realisation of the need to conserve marine life from shore to offshore. In fact the Rio+20 summit this June has called for an integrated ocean assessment and the setting up of a process for negotiating a protocol governing the high seas under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, both to be completed by 2014.

Capitalising on its long-term marine related research and its expertise, the Department of Biology of the University of Malta recently organised a new course, 'Introduction to Marine Biology', which was open to the public; this course was coordinated by Dr Adriana Vella who also lectured in the course together with Dr Joseph A. Borg, Prof. Carmelo Agius and Prof. Patrick J. Schembri. The course was partly sponsored by MEPA.

Topics that were treated in this course included: the general marine environment and the physical, chemical and biological factors that affect the lives of marine plants and animals; the characteristic Mediterranean shallow water habitats; aspects of marine pollution; the ecology of the Mediterranean Sea and what makes this sea different from the global ocean and a biodiversity hotspot; shores and shore life; fisheries and aquaculture and their socio-economic contribution and environmental sustainability; dolphins, whales, marine turtles, sharks and rays; aspects of marine conservation biology including threatened marine species, climate change, the changing marine biodiversity, and jellyfish and plankton blooms.

Apart from lectures, participants benefited from field studies led by the tutors; the aim was to illustrate and expand upon some of the topics covered.  This year the field studies concerned the biota of Maltese rocky shores and the adjacent shallow water and a visit to a local conservation areas where the reasons why marine conservation areas are set up and how they need to be managed in knowledgeable and effective ways were demonstrated to participants.

This course counted for credit for participants registered as students at the UoM while visiting students receive a certificate of participation.

Participants enjoyed the course and have requested more such courses to appreciate our sea's incredible biodiversity and its priceless contribution to life on Earth.  

For further information on next year's course contact the course coordinator, Dr Adriana Vella or contact Ms Beverly Fenech on +356 2340 2272.

Introductory Course in Marine Biology

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