Tribugá Gulf, COLOMBIA (August 29th, 2019) – The Tribugá Gulf, or Golfo de Tribugá, is located on the Pacific coast of Colombia in the western side of the “Chocó” province touching the municipality of Nuquí. This region is perhaps the most biodiverse in the world, and chosen by magnificent animals like hammerhead sharks (Sphyrnidae) and humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) to breed and raise their young. The “Ensenada de Utría” National Park is found inside the gulf, with its lush rainforests providing enriching ecotourism opportunities for those who visit. However, this beautiful pocket of the world is facing a threat to its natural wonders: the Colombian government is looking to build a Seaport in the Tribugá Gulf, right next to the existing National Park within it, threatening to end the local sustainable ecotourism that supports many people of the Chocó Province- not mentioning the countless marine and land species.
International marine conservation nonprofit Mission Blue has declared the Tribugá Gulf a Hope Spot, contributing to its transformation into a marine protected area, where the “Ensenada de Utría” National Park would be extended to encompass the entirety of the Gulf. This would be the first step for the entire area to be established as a UNESCO Natural Heritage Site in recognition of its unmatched biodiversity and irreplaceable value for endangered species.
Dr. Sylvia Earle, founder of Mission Blue, states, “The Tribugá Gulf is in the crosshairs of change. This is one of the most beautiful and intact parts of the coast of South America. It is a place that could either be turned into human development, for human short-term purposes that would have a long term loss and impact. Or, there’s a chance to understand the precious value of having intact systems: its economic value transcends the value of short term industrial activity. Once this place has been transformed into an industrial site, there’s no turning back. It would be a loss on the balance sheet of the economy, prosperity and our life support system. We have a chance now to do what it takes to keep it intact.”
Many species that live and migrate through the Tribugá Gulf (including numerous species of sharks, marine mammals, turtles, seabirds, fish, among many others) also migrate through surrounding marine protected areas, including Malpelo Island, which is included in the Eastern Pacific Seascape Hope Spot.
“The Tribugá Gulf is an explosion of life everywhere you look”, states Carolina Gaviria, Hope Spot Champion, who nominated the area for Hope Spot status in collaboration with Alliance Nuqui (Puerto NO!). “It fits perfectly with existing marine protected areas in the same region: Malpelo Island, Gorgona Island, Bahía Málaga, and located inside the gulf, the Ensenada de Utría National Park. Ongoing research is revealing that these nearby protected areas a very closely related to the Tribugá Gulf in terms of migratory fauna, meaning that their sustainability and conservation greatly depends on the protection of the Tribugá Gulf.”
Creatures like humpback whales, dolphins, hammerhead and whale sharks thrive here, and sightings of most marine mammal species in Tribugá Gulf have included calves. Aggregations of black coral reefs can be found in these waters, and the sardine run is a yearly feast for many marine predators and visitors might spot green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) laying their eggs in the grey sand.
The Tribugá Gulf and surrounding area is very much comparable to the marine biodiverse, iconic areas in the world like the Galápagos Islands, but the poor visibility of the Colombian Pacific waters and little resources for research has limited its documentation. “There is much still left unknown to scientists, which is one of the reasons that scares me the most of the idea of losing a place like this”, declares Francisco Acosta, Co-Director of Expedición Tribugá Documentary Series.
However, we do know that it is one of the few places left on the planet where the ocean is in direct contact with a pristine biodiverse jungle (the most biodiverse rainforest per area in the world, in this case). This creates an exceptionally rich interchange between land and ocean, nurturing the wealth of life forms in both. “It is important to keep in mind that these untouched ecosystems regulate the world climate, helping to mitigate climate change: they are important not only for Colombia but for the whole planet”, states Felipe Mesa, Co-Director of “Expedición Tribugá” Documentary Series.
The “Expedición Tribugá” Documentary series consists of 3 episodes seeking to share with the world the vast richness of this exceptionally lush place left on the planet: Jánano (land), Pusa (ocean) and Puru (people) are the names of its three chapters, to raise global awareness about the transcendence of conserving one of the most biodiverse places on the planet. It will be launched in Colombia by the end of 2019 and still looking for allies to launch it worldwide.
Given Colombia’s difficult history with violence and illegal drug trade, the Colombian government has sought to improve its international image by conserving and promoting its rugged wilderness and literary history of magical realism. Halting the construction of the port would be a wise investment in the local sustainable ecotourism and officially protecting the Gulf would preserve the lives of thousands of marine species and their stable ecosystems for generations to come.