Malpelo Island is located 490 kilometers west of the Port of Buenaventura, in the Pacific Ocean. The emerged part is made up of the main island and 11 islets. Malpelo Island is the only oceanic island that Colombia has in the Pacific Ocean and it has a very important connection with the other islands of the Eastern Tropical Pacific region.
It should be noted that in 2004, the countries of Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia and Ecuador signed the San José Agreement, creating the Marine Corridor of Conservation of the Eastern Tropical Pacific (CMAR), where each of the countries, committed to protect their protected areas: Galapagos of Ecuador, Colombia with the PNN Gorgona and the SFF Malpelo, the Island of Coiba of Panama and the Island of the Coco in Costa Rica, and to work for the conservation of this region.
This oceanic island is the apex of an underwater volcanic mountain range, which emerges vertically from a depth of 4,000 meters. The highest part, known as the Cerro de la Mona, reaches 300 meters above sea level. The land surface is 1.2 km2. The Malpelo Dorsal extends in a northeast-southwest direction with a length and width of 150 and 50 miles respectively. Today much of this mountain range is legally protected, since seamounts are of great importance to many of the migratory species in this region, such as sharks and other large pelagics.
The Malpelo Fauna and Flora Sanctuary is one of the 60 Protected Areas managed by the Colombian National Natural Parks Unit. Due to its environmental importance, in 1995, the Government of Colombia declared the land area, under the category of Fauna and Flora Sanctuary. In 1996, a 6-mile marine portion is included around the island, representing only 651Km2 of marine area protected under the NO TAKE modality, that is, no extraction is allowed. The only permitted and regulated activities are Advanced Recreational Diving Ecotourism and Scientific Research. Subsequently, National Parks carried out two additional expansions: one in 2006 and the last in 2017. Today, the protected Marine Area is 27,093 square kilometers. Additionally, a special Management Area was created, the Yuruparí Management District, an area that is managed with the Colombian industrial fishing sector and the country's fishing authority.
Fauna & Flora
In general terms we can find in SFF Malpelo:
381 species of fish
115 echinoderms and holothurians (stars and sea cucumbers)
6 marine reptiles (5 turtles and 1 sea serpent)
19 marine mammals
15 species of corals: between soft corals and hard corals
5 endemic marine species
Info and pictures by:
Stephanía Rojas-Velez & Jose Tavera.
Info and pictures of reptiles by:
Juan D Vasquez-Restrepo