A mission the secure the future of Malpelo
PROTECT MALPELO - PROJECT SILKY
Biodiversity Conservation Colombia
Protect Malpelo - Project Silky was created by Biodiversity Conservation Colombia to protect and preserve the ecosystem of the Sanctuary of fauna and flora Malpelo.
In 2016 we took on the challenge to build a project that would allow Malpelo’s fauna to be protected from the threat of illegal fishing, which was leaving its ecosystem weaker by the year. Malpelo’s extreme conditions present a challenge for anyone to stay for long periods of time.
nevertheless, we have developed and achieved a sustainable and efficient strategy that would allow for constant stay and surveillance, thus leaving no ground for further destruction of this pristine area.
Learn about the project
What is Malpelo?
The Malpelo Fauna and flora sanctuary is the largest no-fishing zone in the Eastern Tropical Pacific, providing a critically important habitat for internationally threatened marine species, and is a major source of nutrients resulting in large aggregations of marine biodiversity. The protected marine area provides a sanctuary for breeding populations of migrating sharks, whale sharks, giant grouper and billfish and it is one of the few places in the world where sightings of the short-nosed ragged-toothed shark, a deepwater shark, have been confirmed. The Humboldt current and rich up-welling’s of plankton provide conditions around that sustain a high biodiversity and biomass of marine life. Widely acclaimed as one of the top diving sites in the world Malpelo supports has populations of large predators and pelagic species (e.g. aggregations of several hundred hammerhead sharks and over 1,000 silky sharks, whale sharks and tuna have been recorded) in an undisturbed environment where they maintain natural behavioral patterns.
Why is it so important to Protect Malpelo?
The Malpelo Fauna and Flora Sanctuary forms part of the Eastern Tropical Pacific Seascape (ETPS), A region widely considered one of the richest areas of the world’s oceans, home to the world’s largest populations of several species of sharks, tuna, and billfishes, as well whales and turtles, many of which endangered species. In fact, the ETPS is home to the critically endangered Leatherback and Hawksbill turtles and the endangered Pacific Green Turtle, three species facing population collapses due to long-line fishing in the region. According to the International Whaling Commission, the ETPS is also home to over a third of the world’s whale species, including over half of the remaining population of Blue Whales. All of these species are threatened by illegal fishing and are in desperate need of protection.
Malpelo’s abundance of sharks is particularly noteworthy given this apex predator’s rapidly declining numbers globally. With an estimated 100 million sharks being killed every year, many species are now threatened with extinction. Of these, the Scalloped Hammerhead shark (endangered) and the Silky shark (vulnerable) are among the most frequently fished, leading to a global population decline of between 60-99% (Shark Savers 2012). These sharp declines can be illustrated by the dwindling number of sites around the world where large schools of either Silky or Scalloped Hammerhead sharks can be observed regularly. While such large aggregations were common in the 1990’s around places like Layang Layang (Malaysia), Northern Borneo, Madivaru (Maldives), Lombok/Komodo (Indonesia) and the Red Sea, researchers suggest that both the frequency of sightings and the size of schools have fallen sharply over the past two decades, with such large aggregations seldom seen today.
Although the ETPS is also witnessing declining populations due to legal over-exploitation and illegal fishing, its remaining biomass of pelagic species is unparalleled anywhere on the planet. In fact, the marine protected areas of Cocos, the Galapagos, and Malpelo are amongst the last remaining places in the world where divers still regularly encounter large schools of open ocean sharks, such as the Scalloped Hammerhead and Silky Shark. Therefore of critical importance that every effort is expended to preserve these marvels of marine biodiversity. Over a decade of scientific research involving satellite tagging has established that the region’s sharks, rays, and turtles migrate between the various marine protected areas (MPA’s) of the ETPS. Due to this high degree of connectivity, it is indispensable that the region’s three top biodiversity hotspots of Cocos, Galapagos, and Malpelo be adequately protected, as continued poaching in one MPA would threaten the entire region’s biodiversity.
What we do
With our project, we seek to maintain a non-stop presence in the sanctuary, surveilling the area daily to detect illegal fishermen and completing various other tasks. Since 2016 we have been working non-stop to protect Malpelo and preserve its ecosystem; each year since then, the marine wildlife population has grown exponentially, and we aim to keep the numbers rising in the years to come.
We are constantly improving operating systems, adopting new cutting-edge technological resources, and maximizing the use of clean energy to create a sustainable model that can stay in the area for long periods of time.