Monday, April 4, 2016

News from the Beach! Rob's first post!

Immediately the first characteristic feature upon arrival in Malawi is its greenness. After being picked up by Justin at Lilongwe Airport, the four-hour drive North to Kande saw us traverse rolling hill after rolling hill. In my life, I have travelled Central America, Australia, South East Asia and other parts of Africa as well, and rarely has a place been so full of colour as Malawi. Nestled comfortably between Tanzania to the North, Zambia to the West and Mozambique to the South and East, Malawi is a relatively small, but densely populated little African nation. Previously known as Nyasaland while under British colonial rule, it is one of the poorest countries in the Eastern-Central African region, if not the whole continent. In spite of the socio-economic difficulties that Malawi has battled with over the 6 or so decades since colonial rule, it is widely considered to have some of the friendliest, relaxed locals that one can find in a developing country.

Perhaps the most famous aspect of this country is its Great Lake of the same name. Lake Malawi covers about 20% of the country’s area, providing food, livelihood, transportation and ecosystem services to some 13 million or so people. This lake is home to a family of teleost fish called Cichlids. These little freshwater critters are of particular interest to science due to their massive diversity. The lake holds close to 1,000 different species of Cichlids, all slightly different sizes, shapes and colours and all surviving and behaving in their own unique ecological manner, making it the most diverse lake in the world. Kande Island (less than a kilometre off shore from Kande Beach) alone is home to well over 100 species of cichlids. We also get some pretty hefty catfish (spotted on my second dive), crabs, snails, eels and sponges. There is even a family of otters, whom apparently live on the island and go hunting for fish in the late afternoon. It is a stunning ecosystem, of colour, movement and finesse and it is located right on our doorstep.

I will be based in Kande for the next 9 months, and in this time I hope to immerse myself in the local culture. Most people I have met so far are more than competent at speaking English, however, I intend to learn the local ChiTonga language. I also hope to gain a good grasp of the terrestrial life around here. A fish eagle, a paradise flycatcher and a pied kingfisher are my avian highlights thus far, but I have a feeling that in the forests around Kande there are many more untold natural riches just waiting to be discovered. In summary, the stand out first impressions from my first week in Malawi is the greenness, the friendliness and the diversity. I fully expect these 9 months to fly by.

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Saturday, March 26, 2016

Aquanuts Divers and the Maru welcome Rob!


Well its been a great six months with Emily and Scott but all things must sadly change and they are off to new adventures soon so we are welcoming a new member of the crew to the Aquanuts and Maru familes, Robert Macfarlane!

Rob is a PADI scuba instructor and keen biologist having worked on projects as far flung as Belize, Indonesia, and Madagascar.  We are excited about the experience and passion that he can bring to our research programs and look forward to working with him over the next nine months.

Stay tuned as we are quickly going to move one step futher on our Great Lake Malawi Cichlid Survey goals with the opening of an Nkhata Bay Research Substation.  Pictures and details to follow!

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Friday, February 12, 2016

This is why we dive Lake Malawi!

Lake Malawi is simply stunning!  Take 5 minutes to watch this amazing video.  Hat tip to Global Dive Media!
Lake Malawi from Global Dive Media on Vimeo.


Now that you have seen the beauty, help protect it by signing the petition located on the link below!

Save Lake Malawi from Reckless Oil Drilling!





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Friday, January 15, 2016

What's to see in a lake? (Malawi edition)

We often get asked down here at Kande Beach, "What's to see in a lake?" Well we can't speak for other lakes but as for Lake Malawi, the most biologically diverse lake on the planet by the way, there is A LOT to see.  For all you aspiring marine biologists hungry for new waters to explore and new fish to study Lake Malawi offers endless possibilities.  Steven Leeming, our former research and dive assistant at the Maru, just sent us some stunning photos he took while with us, so you too can get a taste for "what's to see in a lake" Malawi edition!

Here is a beautiful Copidachromis Borylei!

Here is "Dr. David Livingstone's fish" Nimbochromis livingstonii

And here is playing dead. Livingstonii is an ambush predator.

And here is a Fossiochromis rostratus locally known as the "fox" fish.

We even have crabs!

We're not sure sure about this one but with think  he is Lethinrops albus. What do you think?

                                                               Take a look at this catfish!

A beautiful Nimbochromis linni

And again we're not sure who this fella is but what a beauty!

And finally a nice small school utaka hanging out in midwater!





















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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christmas at The Maru and Aquanuts Divers!

-Well we are finishing off another great year here at Kande Beach.  A big thank you to all of the volunteers and interns this year that made what we do at the Maru possible.  We all looking forward to a busy first 6 months in 2016 with more new faces and plenty of data to collect here on Lake Malawi.

-At Aquanuts Divers we are busy with all the Holiday-makers from the big cities of Malawi coming to spend their Christmas on the lakeshore.  And to encourage more local interest in Malawi's greatest treasure, Lake Malawi, we are offering 20% off to all residents of Malawi on ALL of our activities from the 24th December all the way through to New Years Eve!  So get on down to the lake and explore it like you've never done before!!!

- Joy's Place has been exploding with new baked delights from cheesecake, to crossiants, to lemon tarts ever since Joy's return from her pastissere course in Cape Town so if you haven't popped in for a taste you're really missing out.  Although we are closed for the Christmas holiday, 24, 25, and 26 (even Joy has to have a break sometimes) we will be back in action on the 27th so come around!
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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Back at the BEACH!

Well after three months in Cape Town working on my PhD and teaching I can't tell you how happy I am to be back in Malawi and Kande Beach!  After three cold and windy months in the Cape the weather in Malawi is AMAZING! And there is a lot happening here in the next three months at the Maru, Aquanuts Divers, and Joy's Place.

-At the Maru we are happy to welcome Cliona from Ireland who is volunteering with us for the next 5 weeks, learning how to scuba dive, and getting to know all of the beautiful fish living in Lake Malawi.

-At Aquanuts Divers we are happy to have in the next few days two new Divemaster interns who will be with us for the next four months!  Welcome aboard Emily and Scott!

- At Joy's Place we are excited about all the new desserts that Joy learned to make during her patisserie course in Cape Town.  Hello delicious cheesecake!  And what better to pair with a dessert than a hot cappuccino from our new espresso machine!
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Thursday, June 11, 2015

News from the Beach!

- First we'd like to wish a nice farwell to Vincent from Canada. Vincent was a great intern and we wish him well on his Master's degree back in Quebec.

- Winter is coming to the lake and that means during the day we have to endure 25 degrees (Celsius of course), clear sunny skies, and a nice southernly breeze for the next couple months!  Poor us! Come down and join in!

- Next take a look at these cool pictures of us having fun with, and teaching, some children how to swim.  They are part of our kids club and come from a school with help from the great organization 3rd World Hope.







- Finally we are always looking for more volunteers and interns to help us with our programs at the Maru.  To learn more about how you can get involved click here or follow the links at the top right-hand corner of this blog.
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