Machalillia National Park, Ecuador

Located along the northwest coast of Ecuador, Puerto Lopez is the most important nesting site for hawksbills identified to date in South America, while also serving as critical foraging grounds.

Through surveys conducted in Ecuador in 2008, Equilibrio Azul identified the Machalilla National Park, located along the northwest coast of the country, as an important nesting site for hawksbills. Prior to this discovery, the information available on the species in the country was very virtually non-existent . Equilibrio Azul initiated a project to quantify the number of females nesting each year, to ensure the viability of their eggs and to understand demographic aspects of the population. Together with the Ministry of Environment, a multi-national initiative was started to understand the movements of the species. They were able to identify key marine habitats, where Equilibrio Azul has conducted constant monitoring to understand growth rates, habitat use and other biological aspects of the species.

Equilibrio Azul also works closely with members of the communities near the town of Puerto López -several are employed by the project- to increase local awareness of the importance of hawksbill turtles and marine resources in general.


Maximum number of the eggs are staying in the sand. Hatchlings are being produced, while we financially support local community members who often have limited options to provide for themselves and their families.

  • Monitoring more than 10 kilometers of beach.
  • Protecting more than 100 hawksbill nests.
  • Long-term data on hawksbill growth rates and habitat use.
  • A total of eight hawksbills equipped with satellite tags.


Program strategies used by this project site:

Nesting Beach Conservation

In-water Monitoring


Protected Area Management

Outreach and Education

Implementing Organizations

ICAPO’s Role with Implementing Organization

  • Communication with other organizations (information link)
  • Access funding sources
  • Funding proposals
  • Joint management (planning and implementation, reporting)
  • Technical advising (capacity-building, training, protocol/methodology development)
  • Research and publications collaboration