What is your personal relation to the marine WHS you represent?
For the last few years, I have been working along with the Malpelo Foundation in shark conservation projects in the area. The first project I worked on was about the identification, presence and first diving behavior insights of the small tooth sand tiger shark (Odontaspis ferox) in Malpelo. Since then I have participated in the data collection and analysis of the acoustic receptors around the island. Currently, I am working on the genetic connectivity and relatedness of the adult population of hammerhead sharks around Malpelo and two juvenile populations in the Colombian pacific coast. The idea is to identify the areas where the adult females of Malpelo give birth to their young, and conduct conservation actions in the early life stages of this late maturity species. The work I have been doing aims at the preservation and long-term conservation of the marine species around the Sanctuary.
What are the specific problems and threats of your marine WHS?
Malpelo Sanctuary is worldwide known for protecting large aggregations of sharks that patrol around Malpelo Island. Due to the increasing demand for shark fins and their high value in Asian markets, many populations of sharks have been depleted do to overfishing during the last decade. Therefore, the biggest threat for Malpelo today is the illegal fishing boats using the area for shark finning and other fishing activities. Other threats include uncontrolled fishing in the area of influence of the Sanctuary, and the development of ecotourism activities.
Why do you think is it important to safeguard your marine WHS?
Malpelo acts as an oasis in a desert ocean for a vast number of species an their populations in the Tropical Eastern Pacific Ocean, including sharks, marine mammals, turtles, birds and endemic fish and lizards. Malpelo is also part of the Eastern Tropical Pacific Corridor (CMAR) that includes the Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) of Galapagos (Ecuador) and Cocos (Costa Rica) among others. Recent studies have determined that vulnerable shark species migrate through this corridor and use many MPAs as part of their migratory routes. Thanks the control and surveillance carried out by the Colombian Navy in Malpelo, the major conservation success is represented by the complete reduction of Colombian and International fishing boats in this important MPA. These conservation efforts must continue in order to preserve and protect these vulnerable and endangered shark species in the region.