Maltese Islands: site description
Nine beaches on the Maltese Islands support sand dunes or remnant thereof, of which five are suggested as study sites; four sites occur on mainland Malta and one on Gozo. All the beaches on Malta are pocket beaches of varying sizes (max 1 Km in length). The beaches show gradation of disturbance, although no site is in a pristine condition.
Given the rarity of coastal sand dune ecosystems in the Maltese Islands, the more important sandy bays on the islands are investigated within the Project:
White Tower Bay
The Ramla Bay in Gozo is of extreme ecological value as it represents a unique habitat type (sand dune ecosystems). In fact the area has been declared an AIE (Area of Ecological Importance) since 1994. The bay lies at the mouth of a fluvially - eroded valley (Wied ir-Ramla), on either side of which are two plateaux showing the full stratigraphical sequence of the Maltese Islands.
The most important feature of the Ramla area is the sandy beach and sand-dune system backing it. The sand originates from erosion, mostly of Greensand. The beach consists of modern beach sands of Holocene age, backed by wind-blown dunes and raised beach deposits which extend a considerable distance inland (about 200 m).
Water erosion plays a very important role in the dynamics of Ramla Bay. During the rainy season, a temporary spring forms across the beach, some 30 m to the east end of Ramla. The spring bisects the beach and carries large quantities of sediment into the sea.
Studies at Ramla Bay beach (1992-1993) show a high diversity and yet low abundance of species, a characteristic of Maltese sandy beaches.