Deep within Malta's blue sea lies a galaxy of marine wildlife coming in all shapes, sizes and colours, or so we're told. For despite the rich heritage, most Maltese know little of the underwater world encircling the island's 300-kilometre coastline.
But two 15-minute-long underwater documentaries released this week are seeking to change that and bring Malta's submarine treasures to light.
Venomous stargazers, eels, bearded fireworms, eerie John Dory, barracuda and colonies of salps (a type of plankton) all feature. Viewers can observe mutualism at work first-hand, as a sea anemone and hermit crab benefit from one another.
The documentaries, which cover marine protected areas Rdum Majjiesa and Dwejra, are not available for sale. Instead, they will be distributed to all schools as of the next scholastic year.
Public screenings of the documentaries are also planned, with the footage eventually being projected continuously within a number of environmental information areas, including one set to be established at Dwejra.
Produced by Shaun Arrigo and Monolith Ltd, the documentaries were commissioned by the University of Malta's International Ocean Institute centre as part of the EU-funded Panacea project.
The Panacea -- or Promotion of Marine Protected Areas Through Environmental Education Centres -- project will run until 2013. It seeks to promote sound management of marine ecosystems through education.
IOI-Malta marine biologist Alan Deidun praised the documentary, saying: "It marks an unprecedented local attempt at projecting Malta's stunning underwater assets to students through unrivalled video quality."