Malpelo is a small oceanic island in the eastern Pacific Ocean, located about 500 km (310 mi) west of the Colombian mainland with a military post manned by the Colombian Armed Forces. It consists of a sheer and barren rock with three high peaks, the highest being the 300 m (980 ft) Cerro de la Mona. The island is about 1.5 kilometres (1 mile) in length from northeast to southwest, and 640 metres (700 yards) across at its widest.

Malpelo Island
Native name:
Isla de Malpelo
Profile of Malpelo Island
Malpelo Island is located in Colombia
Malpelo Island
Malpelo Island
Malpelo Island is located in Pacific Ocean
Malpelo Island
Malpelo Island
LocationPacific Ocean
Coordinates04°00′10″N 81°36′32″W / 4.00278°N 81.60889°W / 4.00278; -81.60889
Area1.2 km2 (0.46 sq mi)
Length1.643 km (1.0209 mi)
Width0.727 km (0.4517 mi)
Highest elevation360 m (1180 ft)
Highest pointCerro La Mona
DepartmentValle del Cauca
Official nameMalpelo Fauna and Flora Sanctuary
Criteriavii, ix
Reference no.1216
RegionLatin America and the Caribbean
Map of Malpelo Island

Geography edit

Malpelo is the only island that rises above the surface from the Malpelo Ridge, which is a solitary volcanic submarine ridge that extends in a northeast-southwest direction for 300 km (190 mi) and has a width of 100 km (62 mi). This island is surrounded by a number of offshore rocks. Off the northeast corner are the Tres Mosqueteros. Off the southwest corner are Salomón, Saúl, La Gringa, and Escuba. All the rocks are surrounded by deep water, and most of the face of the main island is very steep. Soundings between 1,800 and 9,100 metres (1,000 and 5,000 fathoms) are obtainable within a few kilometres of the shore[citation needed] and the currents are strong and changeable. As an oceanic island, it has never been connected with any other islands or the mainland.[1][2][3]

Malpelo Island is composed of Miocene pillow lavas, volcanic breccias, and basaltic dikes that have been dated as being 16 to 17 million years old. This island and the underlying and underwater Malpelo Ridge were created along with the Carnegie Ridge in the Late Miocene by a very complex interaction between the Cocos-Nazca Spreading Centre and the Galápagos hotspot.[1][3][4]

History edit

Prehistory edit

Malpelo Island was presumably isolated from human contact prior to European discovery. It is uninhabited, and is located in the same area as other oceanic eastern Pacific islands, such as Cocos Island, Galápagos and the Revillagigedo Islands, which were all uninhabited at the time of European discovery, and possibly throughout their entire history prior to that.[5]

Discovery edit

The exact date of Malpelo's discovery is unclear, although it may have been the first of the remote eastern Pacific islands to have been discovered by Europeans, as it appears on Peruvian maps from as early as 1530.[6] Malpelo became a possession of Spain following its discovery, and was subsequently annexed by Peru, and later Colombia.[6]

Natural history edit

At first glance, the island seems to be barren rock, devoid of all vegetation, but deposits of bird guano have helped colonies of algae, lichens, mosses, and some shrubs and ferns establish, all of which glean nutrients from the guano. Lizards are the only non-avian vertebrates on the island, with three species total.

It is also home to a unique species of land crabs, Johngarthia malpilensis, first described in 1893.[10]

The island has been recognised as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by BirdLife International because it supports a breeding population of some 60,000–110,000 Nazca boobies, as estimated in 2007.[11]

Malpelo is home of a unique shark population; swarms of 500 hammerhead sharks and hundreds of silky sharks are frequently seen by diving expeditions, making it a very popular shark-diving location. It is one of the few places where the smalltooth sand tiger has been seen alive; it is frequently spotted at the dive site "El bajo del Monstruo".[12] Acanthemblemaria stephensi, the Malpelo barnacle blenny, is a species of chaenopsid blenny found in coral reefs around Malpelo. The largest no-fishing zone in the East Pacific, measuring over 850,000 hectares, surrounds the island.[13]

The Malpelo Nature Reserve, a plant and wildlife sanctuary, is defined as a circular area of radius 9.656 km (6.000 mi) centered at 03°58′30″N 81°34′48″W / 3.97500°N 81.58000°W / 3.97500; -81.58000. A Colombian foundation[14] is trying to preserve the biodiversity of the site. On July 12, 2006, Malpelo was declared by UNESCO as a natural World Heritage Site because of its status as an important shark reserve.[13]

Chronology edit

Gallery edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b "Pacific Coast: Malpelo Island". Coastal and Marine Geology Program, United States Geological Survey, Santa Cruz, California. 2010. Archived from the original on 2 February 2018.
  2. ^ "Coasts of Colombia". Coastal and Marine Geology Program, United States Geological Survey, Santa Cruz, California. 2010. Archived from the original on 3 February 2018.
  3. ^ a b Marcaillou, B.; Charvis, P.; Collot, J.-Y. (2006). "Structure of the Malpelo Ridge (Colombia) from seismic and gravity modeling". Marine Geophysical Research. 27: 289–300. doi:10.1007/s11001-006-9009-y.
  4. ^ Hoernle K., P. Bogaard, R. Werner, F. Hauff, B. Lissinna, G.E. Alvarado and D. Garbe-Schnberg (2002) Missing history (16–71 Ma) of the Galápagos hotspot: implications for the tectonic and biological evolution of the Americas. Geology. 30(9):795–798.
  5. ^ Macnaughtan, Don (February 1, 2014). "Mystery Islands of Remote East Polynesia: Bibliography of Prehistoric Settlement on the Pitcairn Islands Group". Wordpress: Don Macnaughtan's Bibliographies – via
  6. ^ a b Wurm, Stephen A., Mühlhäusler, Peter and Tryon, Darrell T.. Atlas of Languages of Intercultural Communication in the Pacific, Asia, and the Americas, Berlin, New York: De Gruyter Mouton, 1996.
  7. ^ Rand, A.S. G.C. Gorman, and W.M. Rand. 1975. Natural history, behavior, and ecology of Anolis agassizi. Pages 27-38 in J. Graham, editor. The Biological Investigation of Malpelo Island, Colombia. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology, No.176.
  8. ^ Savage, J.M. and K.R. Lips. 1993. A review of the status and biogeography of the lizard genera Celestus and Diploglossus (Squamata: Anguidae), with description of two new species from Costa Rica. Revista de Biología Tropical, 41: 817-842.
  9. ^ Huey, R.B. 1975. A new gecko from Malpelo Island (Sauria: Gekkonidae: Phyllodactylus). Pages 44-46 in J. Graham, editor. The Biological Investigation of Malpelo Island, Colombia. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology, No.176.
  10. ^ Faxon, Walter (1893). "Preliminary Descriptions of New Species of Crustacea: Gecarcinus malpilensis, sp. nov". Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoölogy at Harvard College in Cambridge, Massachusetts. XXIV: 157–158. Retrieved 2023-04-13.
  11. ^ "Malpelo Wildlife Sanctuary". BirdLife Data Zone. BirdLife International. 2021. Retrieved 14 February 2021.
  12. ^ Schneider, P. (nd) Malpelo Island the "Mount Everest" of shark and large pelagic diving. Advanced Diver Magazine Digital. Bradenton, Florida.
  13. ^ a b "Malpelo Fauna and Flora Sanctuary". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization.
  14. ^ Fundación Malpelo y Otros Ecosistemas Marinos
  15. ^ Malpelo Fauna and Flora Sanctuary in Colombia Protected Planet

  This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain: Malpelo, Cocos, and Easter Islands. Peace handbooks. London : H.M. Stationery Office, 1920.

Further reading edit

  • Verga, Giovanni (1936). Malpelo (in Spanish). México: Departamento de Biblioteca de la Secretaría de Educación Pública.
  • Prahl, Henry von (1990). Malpelo la roca viviente (in Spanish) (1. ed.). Bogotá, Colombia: Fondo para la Protección del Medio Ambiente.
  • Parques Nacionales Naturales de Colombia. Fundación Malpelo y Otros Ecosistemas Marinos. Plan de Manejo del Santuario de Flora y Fauna de Malpelo (PDF) (in Spanish). Bogotá, Colombia: Fondo para la Protección del Medio Ambiente. Retrieved 2014-01-05.

External links edit