Photos: Alan Deidun
Malta is one of the driest countries in the world, but a hidden marshland of brackish water at Ta’ Qassisu may be one of Malta’s best kept freshwater secrets.
“The little pocket of freshwater nestled in the cliffs at the limits of Mellieħa and Ċirkewwa is one of the few of its kind in Malta” Professor Alan Deidun told Lovin Malta.
“It’s a very small wetland of freshwater, and what’s striking about it is besides its small dimensions (which make it even more vulnerable), is its closeness to the sea,” he said.
The small freshwater cove is fortunately protected by large boulders which shield it from the salty sea water. It’s also quite inaccessible to people, which is probably another reason the site has remained in such a pristine condition.
“When you see it from a a distance you can really appreciate its proximity to the seawater,” said Alan. “In a semi-arid country like Malta, any freshwater is highly scarce.”
Not least due to Malta’s sweltering summers.
“The habitats that depend on freshwater will dry up in summer, and we don’t have many of them so by default they are of great importance,” he said.
He pointed out that the species you find at this type of habitat in Malta probably won’t be common around the rest of the island.
“The only indigenous amphibian we have, the painted frog, can be found in this kind of habitat. You’ll also find some plants as well as some hydrophilic plants that float on the water in these habitats,” he said.
More than anything, Alan Deidun said that the area is of ecological importance to Malta.
“To have a pond in Malta that is naturally formed, and not man-made, is a miracle in itself,” he said.