Sunday, May 13, 2018

News from the Beach!

Whao have we been busy! We are already well into 2018 and it has gone fast!  In next couple months we are excited to welcome back our research partner Operation Wallacea to Nkhata Bay.  Last year was a blast and the beginning of some new research projects including when to create 3D maps of the Lake floor using GIS geo-located images.  Down at Kande we have two new projects ongoing both spearheaded by two great interns.  Kees from Holland is doing a study comparing the biodiversity and population of cichlids species in Nkhata Bay and Kande based on a lake floor characteristics.  It will be awesome to see what he comes up with.  Federico from Chile is developing a fisheries household survey that we will be rolling out in the next couple weeks.  We’ve been working with the Masakahunju fishing village for years now collecting information on their fish catches and with Federico’s help we will now starting sitting down with the fisherman to learn more about their daily lives and the challenges that come with being a fishing community on Lake Malawi so that we can collectively find some ways to help them continue fishing on the Lake in a way that will ensure that their children can benefit from Lake’s resources as much as, if not more than, they do now.  We are really looking forward to the conversations that will come out of our survey with the fishers and their families!  If any of this sounds interesting to you the Maru is always interested in collaborating with partners whether in Malawi or outside.  Whether it be as a volunteer, intern, or something else, send us an email at and for more info click on the link to the right of this post to go to our full webpage.


Friday, December 15, 2017

Welcome aboard Quentin!

Well here on the Lake we are excited to welcome a new research assistant to the team, Quentin Golo from France.  Quentin is a PADI Divemaster and holds a Masters degree in Marine Biology from work he did in the French Caribbean.  He will introduce himself shortly in his own blog post.  With his help we've got the population and biodiversity surveys back up and running at Kande Island but we could also use more hands to help in the data collection.  Please do visit our website at to find out how you could get involved!

-Also after a few weeks hiatus, again we can only do as much as we can with the resources that we have, find below our weekly report for last week.  There is so much to learn out here!

WEEKLY REPORT for December 11 to December 15.


Thursday, September 21, 2017

Weekly Report 04-09-17 to 11-09-17

Down here on the Lake its getting pretty hot as summer rapidly approaches!  Its great for diving!  Our new volunteer and Research Assistant, Joao, and Easha respectively are settling in well and have already started to dig into all the data collecting that we do! Speaking of data collecting here are the Weekly reports for the last TWO weeks


Saturday, September 9, 2017

Weekly Report for the 28-8-17 to 1-9-2017

-Well we've been working off our heads getting down here on the lake.  Which means we are a bit late uploading last weeks report.  Here it is!  This week's report will be up on on Sunday and our goal is to provide the weekly report every Sunday from now onwards.  This week's report will include the Population and Biodiversity Survey's we've been doing in Nkhata Bay.

-We are also excited to welcome Joao Champalimaud to the Maru as a volunteer on Monday!

-Finally we want to extend a word of gratitude to Dr. Martin Genner from the University of Bristol in the UK for working with us to do a follow-up to the surveys he did as discussed in the 2004 article in the journal Ecography entitled "Beta diversity of rock-restricted cichlid fishes in Lake Malawi:
importance of environmental and spatial factors."  We are really excited to get into the water and see what has changed in the past 13 years!



Sunday, August 27, 2017

Weekly Report for August 21st to the 25th.

Down here on the Lake everything is looking up! We are heading towards September so that means the seasonal warming of the Lake is in full swing, no wetsuits required!  Our new population and biodiversity survey sites in Nkhata Bay are going well. You will see results from them next week, and we've also got some new faces arriving soon.  Cecilia from Spain with be interning with us.  Joao from Portugal is coming out to give us a hand for awhile and Easha from the UK will be coming out as a Research Assistant to help us, amongst other things, to develop the environmental education program at our new branch station in Nkhata Bay.  Take a look at this week's report to see how things are changing in the Bay.  As this is our first year of data collection in this area it is really exciting to be recording baseline data that has NEVER been collected before.  There is so much to learn out here!


Sunday, August 13, 2017

Our New Weekly Report!

So its been a really busy couple months down here on Lake Malawi.  We have laid the groundwork for a great set of new population and biodiversity transects in Nkhata Bay and have been having a great time working with our Operation Wallacea partners from the UK introducing their students to the Lake and its amazing biodiversity.  We've also decided to introduce a new "Weekly Report" that will allow interested people from all over the world to learn more about the Lake and our activities on it.  Every week we will publish here on the blog, and in the upcoming weeks through an email listserv all the data we have collected from the previous week on our underwater population and biodiversity surveys, water quality monitoring surveys, and fisheries surveys.  We think it will be a great way to spread the word about Lake Malawi and be a point of possible collaboration with other interested organizations and people.  As with everything out here, this project is a work-in-progress.  We welcome feedback and, even better, your active participation, in our data collecting activities and analysis.  To learn more about how you can get involved visit our website at



Monday, June 26, 2017

Word from Beatrice our new Research Assistant!

Well its turning out to be a busy winter season here at the Maru! Of course winter here is not quite like that in the northern hemisphere, day time temperatures hover comfortably around 25-30 degrees Celsius.  This month we are happy to welcome Matt, our new intern, and Beatrice our new Research Assistant.  We've also been working with student researchers from Opwall, a great British based research and education organization.  But enough from me, below are Beatrice's first impressions of her stay with us! Stay in touch to hear more from her and our other research partners.

"Almost two weeks since I first arrived from France! Looking for an opportunity to work in an environmental research program, I applied for a position as a research assistant here, at the Maru Research Center. And so far, I couldn’t be happier!
I was warmly welcomed by Justin Kraus, the head of the program, after a four-hour drive from Lilongwe airport to Mzuzu. With amazing food and a good night’s sleep, we were all set to leave for Nkhata Bay the next day. As we arrived into town, we saw the beautiful, huge Malawi lake, it almost looks like the sea! The research center where we are staying is a 20-minute walk to town, in Chikale. I met the two interns, Charlotte and Fergus, at the center, which was -to my surprise- not too shabby at all. Justin showed me around, I helped with getting the scuba gear ready for diving and, before I knew it, dinner was ready. Vegetarian curry with chapattis, delicious! The next day was to be my first diving experience. We reviewed the theory and first skills I would have to perform and off we went! It was quite scary at first to be honest, though I am feeling more and more comfortable under water now.
Before I knew it was the weekend, Charlotte having gone away with some friends and Justin heading back to Mzuzu, Fergus and I spent the weekend at the house enjoying the lake and coming up with new recipes to cook Malawian staples. Wanting to discover the town I headed down to Nkhata Bay. The streets were loud and busy: it was market day. I walked around, went to the shops, etc. Everyone seems very friendly and helpful. Watch out for the cars though!
Charlotte and Justin having come back, we headed once again to the lake for a dive. As part of my open waters, a fun dive was scheduled and it was great! All these beautiful cichlids everywhere, the clear blue water, what a sight! During the week I got to join Charlotte and Fergus on their weekly water quality monitoring survey. We measured the pH, temperature, turbidity, total dissolved solids and counted micro invertebrates for the SASS test on six different sites belonging to two different rivers, both flowing into the lake. It was very interesting to learn from them and exciting to get started on the research program! Justin and I went out diving a couple of times working on my diving skills, and the rest of the time was consecrated to learning the theory and of course learning the names of the cichlids in the area and being able to recognize them. Which isn’t always easy…
We went out in the evenings, where I discovered Nkhata Bay’s nightlife, which is very entertaining. There are all kinds of local restaurants with good food, hustling bars, there is even a cinema! Fantastic!

I really believe this experience will be both knowledgeable and a lot of fun!"