Filming of A Game of Thrones "obliterated" the ecosystem on a protected beachS

In George R.R. Martin's A Game Of Thrones, nobles wreak unimaginable destruction in their power-lust. But one environmentalist is calling HBO real-life Lannisters: They covered a protected beach in Malta with fake sand, resulting in "total elimination" of the ecosystem.

According to the Times of Malta, an enviromental management expert is accusing the government and HBO of "an environmental crime" at Dwerja, where HBO covered the fossil-rich beaches with "a sand-like substance made from powdered stone." Alfred E. Baldacchino, former assistant director in charge of biodiversity within the Environment Protection Directorate of Malta's Environment and Planning Authority (MEPA), says pictures of the site "nearly gave me a heart attack." Writes the Times:

Although the producers, of HBO's Game of Thrones, were first slammed for using heavy machinery and were asked to remove the sand with brooms and spades to minimise the damage, Mr Baldacchino believes the laying of the sand was "the fatal blow".

"It obliterated the micro habitat of all the species in that area, whether flora or fauna. As you can see from the photos some of the thickness of the send is close to a metre."

He said MEPA would now go down in the history books as having contributed to the elimination of the micro-habitat of endemic species (species found only in that area).

Baldacchino says MEPA — which seems like Malta's answer to the U.S. EPA — should never have issued a permit for HBO to film on this beach. But MEPA says that it imposed "stringent conditions" for HBO to film on the beach, and HBO failed to abide by those conditions. The article adds:

MEPA has argued that the producers were to blame for not informing them they were going to cast sand over the protected land so that MEPA could send monitoring officers.

Fire & Blood Productions has apologised for the distress caused but blamed the subcontractor it hired for not adhering to established conditions in the clean-up process to remove sand it had strewn on the protected site.

So when you're enjoying the story of Daenerys being sold into marriage with Khal Drogo, just remember those seaside scenes carried a high price. [The Malta Times, thanks Macaw Juice]