As the solar bakes down on the glistening floor of Lake Malawi, three divers arise close to the rocky outcrop of Masimbwe Island, a dive internet site off Likoma Island in Lake Malawi. Bursting with pleasure they return to the boat, eliminate their kit and talk about the fish they noticed on the quick journey back to shore. With unspoilt white beaches and pure blue h2o stretching as much as the eye can see, you constantly remind oneself that you are not diving in the Caribbean, but in the 3rd greatest lake in Africa. With each other with over 1000 different species of Cichlid fish, as nicely as cat fish and even otters, it is no marvel Lake Malawi has been cited as 1 of the best contemporary water diving areas in the entire world.
Malawi is a landlocked region in the Southern Region of Africa and is bordered by Tanzania to the north, Zambia to the west and Mozambique to the east and south. The landscape is dominated alongside its eastern facet by the 3rd largest Lake in Africa, and the ninth major in the globe. Lake Malawi is recognized as the Lake of Stars, owing to its remarkable potential to mirror the star’s constellations at night time in its crystal crystal clear fresh waters. The lake is of considerable value to the state not only as a usually means of transportation but also as a supply of both of those foods and h2o. As a Scuba diver, its significance lays in its impressive abundance of different fish species- building it the most biologically diverse contemporary h2o natural environment in the environment.
Lake Malawi includes a increased wide range of indigenous species (all around 1000) of Cichlid fishes than any other lake. Scientists have recognized around 500 species to day that are endemic to Lake Malawi, which is additional than all of the freshwater species observed in all the waters of both Europe and North The usa. The Cichlids of Lake Malawi, perhaps even additional so than the Cichlids from the other two rift lakes, Victoria and Tanganyika, are brightly colored and patterned. Cichlids have progressed from a solitary frequent species into the hundreds found currently, coexisting inside the lake ecosystem. The variable species have formulated differential feeding methods to maximise efficiency. Some species have formulated teeth specialised in scraping algae from the rocks, or aquatic plants. Some others use a sand filtration method to sieve aquatic animals or invertebrates from the sand. Also observed are species specialised in snail, plant and fish intake.
A person of the most intriguing phenomena noticed on dives is the protecting nature of the mouthbreeders, built well known in the BBC documentary sequence ‘Planet Earth’. The Cichlids of Lake Malawi are among a reasonably small quantity of fishes that search just after and guard their offspring. The mothers carry their eggs and fry in their mouths until finally the juveniles are huge sufficient to fend for on their own. Even at this stage, in a lot of species, the child fry remain close to their mother in a restricted shoal when at the 1st sign of predatory risk, she opens her mouth and the full brood are taken in for security. In the circumstance of a lot of of the mouthbreeders, the males show no parental treatment after spawning, they move on to come across a further woman. Normally divers can see the males dig big spawning pits- large spherical craters – in the sand, at h2o depths of all over 2-20 meters (6-65 ft), in purchase to entice even more ladies.
Other species in Lake Malawi have created some quite one of a kind hunting variations, which make them enjoyment to observe whilst diving. At least two species entice modest fish inside variety by feigning dying and lying motionless in the sand! These have been offered the nickname of “The engage in-lifeless fish.” A person of the largest fish that can be witnessed whilst diving is the Kampango. Developing up to 2m in duration, the Kampango is a big, territorial and predatory catfish endemic to Lake Malawi, happening from the decrease reaches of rivers to the deepest habitable parts of the lake. A nocturnal predator, it feeds mostly on lesser cichlids. Juveniles largely feed on eggs produced by the female, and when marginally older, the male helps the youthful in exploring for invertebrates in and all-around the nesting web site, which equally mothers and fathers will protect. If you are blessed sufficient to locate a catfish pair with infants, you will see correctly shaped miniature catfish – up to 80 of them in a person nest! The Kampango is inquisitive and will tactic divers coming into its territory, notably when breeding.
Lake Malawi is a clean water surroundings as a end result there is no coral expansion on the reefs. On the other hand, that will not imply to say there is no plant lifetime. Lake Malawi boasts an endemic genus and species of freshwater sponge, Malawispongia echinoides. This minor colonial animal takes place nowhere else on earth.
About just one 3rd of the lakes’ coastline is rocky, which is residence to the vegetarian cichlids, the Mbuna, as well as the occasional contemporary drinking water eel. These underwater rock formations make for breathtaking dive websites including numerous swim throughs and fall-off walls. The rest of the coastline is characterised by sandy shorelines and bottoms. This is wherever the the vast majority of the open-water piscivores (consume other fish), known as Haps, dwell. A several Cichlid species inhabit the muddy and weed-strewn base where by larger sized rivers circulation into the lake.
Lake Malawi is unusual in that it does not have tides or substantially potent currents, building it a great natural environment for open water instruction. Diving is attainable all calendar year spherical. On the other hand, concerning August and November, the lake is at its calmest, with really minimal wind. H2o temperatures can rise up to 30 Levels Celsius all through this time, with visibility as very good as 20 metres. With these conditions, 3-5mm wetsuits with minimal or no bodyweight devices are flawlessly suited in this freshwater paradise. Offered that Lake Malawi sits at virtually 500m over sea stage, exclusive methods are essential when diving at altitude.
Night diving is certainly regarded as a distinctive encounter in the lake. Dolphin fish, resembling almost nothing like their names sake, can be noticed applying the torch mild of divers to facilitate an uncomplicated food. A lot of diverse catfish can also be witnessed growing from the depths of their daytime lairs in research of foods. In the shallower waters a plethora of blue crabs can be found on the sandy base, although a sharp eye can location little fresh drinking water shrimp found in and all around the rocky boulders.
For these times that divers prefer to remain topside there is always one thing to do on Lake Malawi. Kaya Mawa, an award-successful lodge on Likoma Island, offers things to do for its attendees, this sort of as sailing, kayaks, bicycles, waterskiing and wakeboarding, spherical island boat visits and quad bicycle tours. For the 2012 period, Malawi’s first Kite-surfing college has also opened. For people keen on birdwatching, Lake Malawi is a haven for hundreds of species. If you are fortunate, you might location the crimson-rumped waxbill, located only on Likoma Island, or the Majestic Fish Eagle, swooping down to capture it is prey.
There are numerous intercontinental airways that fly into Malawi, which includes South African Airways, Kenyan Airways, Air Malawi and Ethiopian Airways. Internal transport is attainable by bus, taxi, rental auto, inside flight firms (Ulendo Airlink) and the Ilala ferry, that travels a continuous route about the Lake.