UNESCO Malpelo

UNESCO Malpelo


Malpelo (Spanish: Isla de Malpelo) is a small uninhabited and largely barren island in the Pacific Ocean about 500 kilometers west of Buenaventura, Colombia. The island, belonging to the department of Valle del Cauca, measures a maximum of 1643 by 720 meters. The highest point of the 1.2 km² small island is with 300 meters the Cerro de la Mona.


Malpelo is formed from Miocene cushion lava, volcanic breccies and basaltic dikes, dated from 16 to 17 Ma. The island and the underlying Malpelorug, together with the Carnegierug in the Late Miocene, originated from a very complex interaction between the Cocos-Nazca Distribution Center and the Galápagoshotspot.


Apart from algae growth, ferns and mosses that grow on the guano of Malpelo, the island is completely ungrown. The island itself houses a modest fauna of crabs (Gecarcinus malpilensis), Malpelohagedis (Anolis agassizi), hazelworm (Diploglossus millepunctatus) and the gecko (Phyllodactylus transversalis). The sea around Malpelo contains a lot of underwater fauna. The island, located on the North equatorial stream, houses a unique shark population; schools of 500 hammerhead sharks and hundreds of silk sharks are regularly observed during SCUBA expeditions. Malpelo is one of the few places where the small sand tiger shark has been observed alive. This shark appears at the dive site El bajo del Monstruo. Around the island is the largest area with a fishing ban of the eastern Pacific Ocean.

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