A female Tyrannochromis sp. retrieves her fry in the face of danger at Mawimbwe, a small island south of Likoma Island, Lake Malawi. The vast majority—more than 1,000 species— of fish found in this very special lake are cichlids, small colorful fish that over millennia evolved to fill every ecological niche in the lake and developed a clever parenting technique—mouthbrooding—to make sure that as many young as possible survive to adulthood.
, retrieves her young fry, which swim into her mouth for protection. This species is just one of more than 1,000 cichlids endemic to Lake Malawi that are known as maternal mouth brooders. After fertilization, the female holds the eggs and later young in her mouth for approximately three weeks. During this period, she abstains from eating and dedicates herself to her fry until they are large enough to fend for themselves.