Machalilla National Park (MNP) is a located along the northwest coast of Ecuador, near the town
of Puerto Lopez in the province of Manabí. The park incorporates pristine beaches, healthy dry forest and two large
islands, Salango and Isla de la Plata, the latter named for a legendary hoard of silver left by Sir Francis Drake. Having
spearheaded shark and fisheries research along mainland Ecuador for several years, in 2008 Equilibrio Azul conducted sea turtle
monitoring at several beaches within Machalilla National Park.
To their surprise they found dozens of hawksbill nests at a small beach called 'La Playita' or 'The
Little Beach'. This is the only hawksbill nesting site identified to date along the entire Pacific coast of South America. During
the nesting season our local conservation team walks the beach and ensures the protection of all nests in-situ, while collecting
important biological information on both nesting turtles and hatchlings.
A unique aspect of MNP is that in addition to nesting it also hosts numerous foraging turtles. Since the start of
in-water monitoring in 2009, the monitoring team has encountered both adult and juvenile hawksbills in front of Machalilla
Park, demonstrating the critical importance of the area for foraging of all age-classes.
MNP was officially created in 1979 and includes more than 113,000 acres (46,000 ha) of protected area. It is
one of only three protected sites in continental Ecuador that includes a marine protected area. In 1990 MNP was alsos declared
a Ramsar site which designates the park as an internationally important wetland according to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.
Machalilla National Park
Eastern Pacific Hawksbill Initiative
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation - NFWF
Conservacion Internacional - Ecuador
US Fish & Wildlife Service - USFWS
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - NOAA - Southwest Fisheries Science Center