EXPLORE the Malpelo Fauna and Flora Sanctuary with this slideshow, check the location map and get all the facts and information below.

Malpelo Fauna and Flora Sanctuary
Malpelo Fauna and Flora Sanctuary

For slideshow description see right or scroll down (mobile). Click to view slideshow 

Location and Values: The Malpelo Fauna and Flora Sanctuary is a large marine park in the tropical eastern Pacific, located about 500 km from the Colombian coast. It includes a small rocky island (Malpelo, 3 km2) and an extensive tract of the surrounding ocean.  Malpelo island is the peak of an enormous underwater ridge and the marine environment includes steep walls, caves, tunnels and deep waters (to 3,400m) where ocean currents carry nutrient-rich waters that support super-abundant marine wildlife.  This includes impressive populations of top predators and large pelagic species, with major congregations of hammerhead, silky and whale sharks as well as tuna, giant grouper and billfish.  The marine reserve is the largest no-fishing zone in the eastern tropical Pacific and one of the top diving sites of the world.  Many of the larger marine species that inhabit the waters of Malpelo migrate between the various ‘marine hotspots’ of the eastern Pacific, including world heritage sites in the Galapagos Islands (Ecuador), Cocos Island (Costa Rica) and Coiba National Park (Panama).

Conservation Status and Prospects. According to IUCN’s Conservation Outlook Assessment (2020) the conservation status of the Malpelo Fauna and Flora Sanctuary is ‘good, with some concerns’. The IUCN report notes that protection of the site benefits from its large size and very remote location.  Management effectiveness has improved significantly since the world heritage listing in 2006 but there are still concerns over illegal fishing in the sanctuary.  In some cases this involves industrial fishing by foreign vessels.   There is also some concern over management of marine traffic and pollution, as well as the impacts of alien invasive species and disturbance of breeding seabirds and terrestrial habitats on the small island by visiting tourists, scientists and Navy personnel.

Google Earth
Official UNESCO Site Details
IUCN Conservation Outlook
UNEP-WCMC Site Description
Birdlife IBA

Slideshow description

The slideshow ‘tells the story’ of the Malpelo Fauna and Flora Sanctuary with a portfolio of photos that illustrate the landscape features of rocky Malpelo island and some of the marine life of the surrounding ocean.  It starts with views of the island and its vast breeding colonies of Nazca and masked boobies, as well as two of its endemic lizards. The second part of the slideshow illustrates some of the marine life, starting with hammerhead and whale sharks and including many other ‘pelagic giants’ as well as some smaller inhabitants of the coral reefs.

The following Flickr photographers are acknowledged with thanks for their contributions to this slideshow (as credited in the watermark of each photo):   Andres Paez, Cristian Laverde, Aracataca and Michel Coumont.


Website Category:
Marine & Coastal
Area: 8,575 km2

Inscribed: 2006

UNESCO Criteria:

  • Exceptional natural phenomenon (vii);
  • Outstanding natural beauty (vii);
  • Ecological processes (ix);

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