Freediving is an under appreciated way to view underwater marine life. On scuba, of course you can stay longer, but you are also noisy and invasive with all the bubbles, equipment and disturbance that causes. Freediving allows you to get close without disturbing the marine life and gives a totally different interactive experience.
I am writing a little bit about my own observations with 5 of my favourite marine life, all of which can be found by freedivers and snorkellers around the Maltese Islands. Click the highlighted links for more detailed descriptions and video footage.
1) Ornate Wrasse (INFO):
One of my favourite fish, and one which surprise most people as their bright colourings make them appear almost as a tropical species. They are teritorial and will circle and get agitated if you (or nearly anything else alive in the water!) gets too close to them or their nest. Often overlooked because of their small size, they make up for it with vibrant colour and fun interaction.
2) Fried Egg Jellyfish (INFO):
One of the most beautiful jellyfish, as well as 'friendly' (they do not sting), they appear in later summer and early autumn sometimes in large congregations, floating past like an alien space ship (see photo below). And this spaceship often has a passenger... They have a symbiotic relationship with juvenile Amberjack who use the jellyfish for shelter and protection and who keep them clean in return.
Fried Egg Jellyfish VIDEO
3) Common Octopus (INFO):
One thing fairly numerous in Maltese waters are the common octopus. These can be super curious and I have observed them using pieces of glass as a shield to cover the entrance to their den and even with coins as they like to collect shiny things. See the video of a curious octopus grabbing my camera, below.
Common Octopus VIDEO
4) Grouper (INFO):
This fish can live up to 50 years and reach up to1.5m in length! Though as with octopus, that maturity is rare now around Malta. They are also very inquisitive and often watch you as you dive and if they back away, they still turn around to observe from the shelter and safety of a cave or other shelter.
5) Scorpionfish (INFO):
There are 3 species around Malta with the bigger version sometimes displaying a vivid red colour (which looks more brown underwater). They have a venomous spine so you must respect them, and they are often sitting still waiting for prey (normally small fish), to pass by. They don't get it all their own way though. I once observed a scorpionfish being hunted and eaten by a cuttlefish!
Click HERE for more detailed information about the species listed above, and many of the other marine life of the Maltaese Islands: