Description of the area
Malpelo island is located on the Eastern Tropical Pacific Ocean, approximately 500 kilometers west of the port of Buenaventura. It is part of the Buenaventura township, in the Valle del Cauca department. The Malpelo Flora and Fauna Sanctuary is administered by the Colombia Natural National Park System, which has an administrative branch in the city of Santiago de Cali.
Today, the Malpelo Flora and Fauna Sanctuary is the ninth largest protected marine area in the world. Since 2005, it has been catalogued as an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International and the Alexander Von Humboldt Research Institute. Its greatest acknowledgement is, perhaps, its declaration as a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization – UNESCO in 2006. It is in this framework that Malpelo has been called a “marine jewel” by the National Government (President Santos, 2011.)
Clusters of over 300 hammerhead sharks can be seen near the island year round. UNESCO declared Malpelo a Natural World Heritage Site in 2006.
- Scuba diving in Malpelo requires a duly certified lead diver with knowledge of the area. Diver groups are not to exceed six divers. All divers must have an advanced diver certification, or two-star certification, with at least 25 recorded dives.
- The maximum diving depth for certifications is usually 140 feet. Each diver must have at least the following equipment for underwater activities: diving suit, buoyancy compensator, alternate air source, diving knife (in case of need to cut fishing lines or nets), a whistle or any other alerting device, dive computer, personal buoy, lantern and diving light.
- Additionally, the lead diver must have a safety buoy, strobe light and pocket mask. For underage divers, a written permission from their parents or guardians is required even if they accompany them. It is paramount to ensure buoyancy as a protective measure for the ecosystem; and to refrain from feeding, chasing or touching the marine fauna.
- Elements hazardous to biodiversity, such as sprays, non-biodegradable cleaning supplies (soap, shampoo, etc.), are to be avoided, as well as alcoholic beverages as they accelerate blood flow increasing the risk of decompression sickness. Hence, no alcoholic beverages are permitted in the park.
- Vaccination: Yellow fever and tetanus.