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.