Name of Site: Zona fil-Bahar fl-Inhawi ta’ Mgarr ix-Xini (Ghawdex)
Year of designation: 2012
Area [ha]: 30.56
Annex 1 Protected Habitats:
- 1110 Sandbanks which are slightly covered by sea water all the time
- 1120 Posidonia beds (Posidonion oceanicae)
- 1170 Reefs
- 8330 Submerged or partially submerged sea caves
The Posidonia present within this site comprises small patches with average shoot densities. The shoots have an average of 5 leaves and heavy epiphytic growth. In the mouth of the inlet the Posidonia has a shoot density approximately three times as that of other patches found within this site, and an average of 6 leaves per shoot.
None of the Posidonia patches appears to possess a well developed matte. The Posidonia meadows present within this site are semi-isolated since there is little continuity with meadows present in other coastal areas. The biotopes present in the inlet and beyond its mouth are typical of ones found along the southwestern coast of the Maltese Islands where the prevailing bottom type is steeply sloping rock or consists of submarine cliffs with extensive forests of photophilic algae. Small populations of important fauna can be found, including populations of Pinna nobilis, Centrostephanus longispinus and Scyllarides latus. The site also hosts the hermit crab and the gastropod Phallium undulatum at a shallower level than the normal depth at which they are generally found. A significant area of reefs is occupied by an association with Flabellia petiolata and Peyssonnelia squamaria. Other important associations include that with Dictyopteris polypodioides. Two fully submerged caves are present below the shore on the western side of the inlet. These caves support typical cave species, including some (for example the stony sponge Petrobiona massilliana) protected locally and internationally. Sand banks are also present at this site. In fact, vegetation belonging to the Cymodoceion nodosae is present in several places inside the inlet present at this site, where it mainly forms monospecific stands.