The wide Open Wonder of Lake Malawi
Lake Malawi, which is also known as Lake Nyasa is one of Africa’s great lakes. It stretches approximately 75 kilometres at its widest point, is 580 kilometers long and has a total surface area of 29 600 square kilometres. It is located between Tanzania, Mozambique and Malawi, and is home to the greateer number of species of fish than in any other body of water on the planet. A nickname given to Lake Malawi by David Livingstone is ‘Lake of the Stars’. He gave the lake this name because of the lights produced by the lanterns on the boats of fishermen which produced a reflection on the water which looked like a reflection from stars in the sky from a distance at night.
The lake is a major source of transportation between the villages as well as between the inhabited inlets and the lake shore. It takes hours for steam and motor boats to cross the lake. Large boats are anchoring off shore because the inlet ports are not usable.
Lake Malawi has a stock of edible fish that includes the Mpasa, also known as Lake Salmon, the Kampango, which is a large catfish and the Tilapia, making it an important source of food for the surrounding population. The lake also accommodates a multitude of other fresh water fish which are a feast for the eyes, such as the Cichlids which are a small and brightly coloured species and a favourite of many aquarium enthusiasts. Several hundred species of Cichlid inhabit the lake, some of them are made up of an open water dwelling species. Their males display a variety of bright colours, and the females, silver with a few black marks. Another group which is smaller in size than the others are made up of both brightly coloured males and females and these are usually found in the more rocky parts of the water.
The Lake’s bird life is nothing short of amazing. Territorial fish eagles are a common sight as well as countless herons, cormorants and kingfishers all performing a wild orchestra while occupied with the different pursuits required for the provision of their food and shelter.