New expedition

The island of Malpelo

Chris Thompson | April – May, 2018

Chris Thompson

April – May, 2018

  Cover image

Malpelo Island, Colombia.
Photo: Chris Thompson

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In April-May of 2018 the marine futures lab was involved in an expedition to Malpelo Island, Colombia aboard the Undersea Hunter vessel, Argo. The expedition was led by National Geographic Pristine Seas in collaboration with Fundacion Malpelo and Parques Colombia.

Multiple sampling teams conducted comprehensive sampling from the shallows surrounding the island down to the deep sea and to the blue waters surrounding it. Divers conducted Underwater Visual Census’ of the fish life and invertebrates on the islands walls, a technical dive team surveyed the mesophotic zone from 50-100m, the Deep See submersible conducted surveys down to 400m with multiple sighting of the smalltooth sand tiger shark (Odontaspis ferox), the National Geographic deep DropCam sampled deeper waters and the pelagic assemblages surrounding the island were assessed using mid-water baited remote underwater video systems (BRUVS).

The reserve area surrounding Malpelo was bustling with pelagic wildlife, with bait balls, schools of yellowfin tuna, bottlenose dolphins, large numbers of hammerhead, Galapagos and silky sharks and even whale sharks observed.



Large aggregations of Scalloped hammerhead (Sphyrna lewini), Yellowfin tuna (Thunnuas albacares) and Silky sharks (Carcharhinus falciformis) were observed in the surrounding waters of Malpelo.


DeepSea submersible

Descending the waters off Malpelo Island the DeepSea submersible captured a
smalltooth sand tiger shark (Odontaspis ferox)



Giant frogfish (Antennarius commerson)



Mid-water BRUVS deployed in the waters off Malpelo Island.



The waters surrounding the island support a large colony of Nazcar Boobies (Sula granti)


This expedition was undertaken aboard the Undersea Hunter vessel, Argo. A National Geographic Pristine Seas project in collaboration with Fundacion Malpelo and Parques Colombia.