Santa Clara Island - Wildlife Refuge

Visit the Santa Clara Island Wildlife Refuge, a spectacular protected area with a diversity of migratory seabirds. It is also known as the "Island of the Dead", Here you can know why.

Santa Clara Island reserve 

What should you know?

  • The protected area includes Santa Clara Island , the surrounding islets and two nautical miles around it. The island and islets are interconnected by a platform on which you can walk at low tide.     
  • The abundance of nutrients in its waters is the explanation for the great marine productivity that has been reported, one of the highest on the continental coast of Ecuador and where countless species converge, many of commercial interest. 
  • This place is in the canton of Santa Rosa in the province of El Oro . This island is also known as the Isle of the Dead, this small island is located to the opposite entrance of the Gulf of Guayaquil and the island Puná .          
  • Its main inhabitants are thousands of seabirds. In it, frigates, blue-footed boobies and pelicans find places to eat, rest, woo and nest.    
  • To get to Santa Clara Island, a boat is taken from Puerto Bolívar , the journey takes approximately two hours to cover the 43 km that separate the island from the mainland.   
  • Where is Santa Clara Island? It remains in Puerto Bolívar  
    • From Guayaquil The route is made along the route to Machala (186 km). In this city of Machala, you take the direction of Puerto Bolívar (7 km), there you take a river transport, these boats take two hours to reach the island.    

Marine Reserve Santa Cara Island flora and fauna  

Cultural aspects, biodiversity and attractions

  • The Santa Clara Island reserve due to its strategic location, the island was important for former residents.  
  • It is thought that it was a sacred place of worship for some pre-Hispanic cultures and that the ancient inhabitants of the Gulf of Guayaquil used it as part of the commercial circuit of the South American coast and for the defense of the gulf.
  • The defensive function continued during the Colony, when from the island the pirates who tried to assault the ships that left Guayaquil were being fought . 
  • In 1747 a lighthouse was installed that continues to work.
  • Something that characterizes the Reserve is the presence of thousands of seabirds . It is estimated that there are 14,000 frigates, 5,000 blue-footed boobies and 4,000 pelicans. Without a doubt, these are the most numerous colonies of these species throughout continental Ecuador. For this reason, the area was declared a Ramsar site in 2002 and is included in the list of wetlands of international importance. At the marina you can find fish such as alewife , the chuhueco , the mackerel , the sardine , the anchovy , the corvina , the catfish and redfish . In addition, mammals such as humpback whales, common dolphins and sea lions have been reported in its waters .             
  • At the moment Santa Clara Island operates a scientific station administered by the Oceanographic Institute of the Navy (INOCAR) in agreement with the Ministry of Environment.
  • This place is visited because it offers ecological tourism , migrant birds that rest on the island are a true spectacle, the great value for having a great marine biodiversity. Because of its proximity, the main visitors are those of Puerto Bolívar.   

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