Can I Feed My 1 Year Old Cat Senior Food Scuba Diving in Lake Malawi, One of the Best Fresh Water Diving Locations in the World

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Scuba Diving in Lake Malawi, One of the Best Fresh Water Diving Locations in the World

As the sun sets on the shimmering surface of Lake Malawi, three divers emerge near the rocky outcrop of Masimbwe Island, a dive site off Likoma Island in Lake Malawi. Bursting with excitement, they return to the boat, remove their kit and discuss the fish they spotted on the short trip back to shore. With unspoiled white sand beaches and pure blue water stretching as far as the eye can see, you are continually reminded that you are not diving in the Caribbean, but in Africa’s 3rd largest lake. With over 1000 different species of cichlid fish, as well as catfish and even otters, it’s no wonder Lake Malawi has been cited as one of the best freshwater dive sites in the world.

Malawi is a landlocked country 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 along its eastern side by the third largest lake in Africa and the ninth in the world. Lake Malawi is known as the Lake of Stars, due to its impressive ability to reflect star constellations at night in its crystal clear fresh waters. The lake is of considerable importance to the country, not only as a means of transport, but also as a source of food and water. As a diver, its importance lies in its remarkable abundance of different species of fish, making it the most biologically diverse freshwater environment in the world.

Lake Malawi contains a greater variety of native species (about 1000) of cichlid fish than any other lake. Researchers have so far identified more than 500 species endemic to Lake Malawi, more than all the freshwater species found in all the waters of Europe and North America. The cichlids of Lake Malawi, perhaps even more so than the cichlids of the other two rift lakes, Victoria and Tanganyika, are brightly colored and patterned. Cichlids evolved from a single common species to the hundreds found today, co-existing in the lake’s ecosystem. Variable species have evolved differential feeding techniques to maximize productivity. Some species have developed specialized teeth for scraping algae from rocks or aquatic plants. Others use a sand filtration technique to separate aquatic animals or invertebrates from the sand. There are also species that specialize in eating snails, plants and fish.

One of the most fascinating phenomena seen on dives is the protective nature of mouth-raisers, made famous in the BBC documentary series “Planet Earth”. Lake Malawi cichlids are one of a relatively small number of fish that care for and protect their offspring. The mothers carry their eggs and fry in their mouths until the juveniles are large enough to fend for themselves. Even at this stage, in many species the fry remain close to their mother in a tight shoal when at the first sign of predatory danger she opens her mouth and the whole brood is collected to safety. In the case of many mouth-breeders, the males show no parental care; after spawning, they move on to find another female. Often divers can see the males dig large spawning pits – large round craters – in the sand, at water depths of around 2 to 20 meters (6 to 65 feet), in order to attract fish. other females.

Other Lake Malawi species have developed very unique hunting adaptations, making them fun to watch while diving. At least two species lure small fish into range by feigning death and standing still in the sand! These were given the nickname “The Dead Fish”. One of the biggest fish you can see while diving is the Kampango. Up to 2m in length, the Kampango is a large territorial and predatory catfish endemic to Lake Malawi, occurring from the lower reaches of the rivers to the deepest habitable parts of the lake. Nocturnal predator, it feeds mainly on small cichlids. Juveniles feed mainly on eggs released by the female, and when they are a little older, the male helps the young to search for invertebrates in and around the nest site, which both parents will defend. If you are lucky enough to find a pair of catfish with babies, you will see perfectly formed miniature catfish – up to 80 of them in a nest! The Kampango is curious and will approach divers entering its territory, especially when breeding.

Lake Malawi is a freshwater environment; as a result, there is no coral growth on the reefs. However, that does not mean that there is no plant life. Lake Malawi is home to an endemic genus and species of freshwater sponges, Malawispongia echinoides. This small colonial animal does not exist anywhere else on earth.

About a third of the lakes coastline is rocky, home to vegetarian cichlids, the Mbuna, as well as the occasional freshwater eel. These underwater rock formations make for stunning dive sites, including countless swim-throughs and drop walls. The rest of the coastline is characterized by beaches and sandy bottoms. This is where the majority of open water piscivores (eat other fish), called Haps, dwell. A few species of cichlids inhabit the muddy, weed-strewn bottom where larger rivers flow into the lake.

Lake Malawi is unusual in that it does not have very strong tides or currents, making it a perfect environment for open water training. Diving is possible all year round. However, between August and November, the lake is at its calmest, with very little wind. The water temperature can soar up to 30 degrees Celsius during this time, with visibility as good as 20 meters. Under these conditions, 3-5mm wetsuits with little or no weight are perfectly suited in this freshwater paradise. Since Lake Malawi is nearly 500m above sea level, special procedures are required when diving at altitude.

Night diving is certainly considered a unique experience in the lake. Dolphin fish, which look nothing like their names, can be seen using the divers’ flashlight to facilitate an easy meal. Many different catfish can also be seen emerging from the depths of their daytime lairs in search of food. In the shallow waters, a plethora of blue crabs can be found on the sandy bottom, while a keen eye can spot tiny freshwater prawns lying in and around the rocky boulders.

For those days when divers prefer to stay on the surface, there is always something to do on Lake Malawi. Kaya Mawa, an award-winning lodge on the island of Likoma, offers activities for its guests, such as sailing, kayaks, bicycles, water skiing and wakeboarding, boat trips around the island and excursions in quad. For the 2012 season, Malawi’s first kitesurfing school also opened. For those who enjoy bird watching, Lake Malawi is a haven for hundreds of species. If you’re lucky, you might spot the Crimson-rumped Waxbill, found only on Likoma Island, or the Majestic Fish Eagle, swooping down to catch its prey.

Several international airlines fly to Malawi, including South African Airways, Kenyan Airways, Air Malawi and Ethiopian Airways. Internal transport is possible by bus, taxi, rental car, internal airlines (Ulendo Airlink) and the Ilala ferry, which runs a continuous route around the lake.

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