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Whalebone and Love Islands


Conservation benefit: Protection of 1,235 acres of mangroves for 15 years and reforestation of five acres of mangroves

Community benefit: Interpretive center in Puerto Pizarro, trash collection, interpretive trail on Love Island

Date Approved: 06.2017


This project supports a local conservation-based tourism initiative.


This project protects mangroves, which trap more CO2 than any other kind of forest and as a result, slow global warming.

The Tumbes River delta, just 200 miles below the equator, is thick with mangroves. More than 200 species of birds (19 of them endemic to the region) and more than 100 species of fish are found there. Olive ridley and green sea turtles ply the waters, trying to avoid the American crocodiles that also call the region home. There are unusual mammals, such as the silky anteater and the crab-eating raccoon. Prawns, crabs, and bivalves are abundant and varied.

The community of Puerto Pizarro wants to protect two small uninhabited islands just offshore, Whalebone Island (Isla Hueso de Ballena) and Love Island (Isla del Amor). It has formed a tourist board, which has authority to regulate use of the islands.

The organization will protect 1,235 acres of mangroves surrounding the islands for 15 years. The community will also plant native mangrove species in deforested areas on the islands. They will draw on the expertise of two people with extensive experience with recovery of degraded mangrove areas in the region.

The community will use a Seacology grant to improve the interpretive center and to build an interpretive trail and install signs on Love Island. It will also fund a garbage collection system to handle the trash left by more than 100,000 tourists each year. The tourist board, which collects money from entrance tickets, and the community will pay for ongoing operations.

Project Updates

February 2022

The long pandemic has taken a big toll on this project. The interpretive center, which had been thriving, is currently closed.

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June 2021

The pandemic has temporarily stopped work on trail repairs funded by our 2019 maintenance grant. A travel ban has also affected the mangrove center. Currently, no tourists are allowed, but people, mostly Venezuelans fleeing terrible conditions at home, have poured into the area through nearby Ecuador.

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December 2019

The mangrove center is thriving, as are the trash and recycling collection programs. But in summer 2019, tourist boats stopped landing near the interpretive trail. Instead, they began landing on the other side of the island, at a more convenient beach that had emerged after heavy rains. As a result, visitors don’t see the trail and so don’t learn about the island environment. We made a grant to repair old trails that lead to the interpretive trail.

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May 2019

Local university students helped with reforestation, and this project is now complete.

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December 2018

The extensive repairs to the interpretive center are finished, and the exhibits have been installed. The boardwalk and island interpretive trail are complete. The reforestation effort will probably finish up this month.

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May 2018

Our NGO partner is publicizing the center with posters and brochures, and Peru’s tourism ministry (iPeru) is promoting the trail and center online. Construction of the island interpretive trail, which will take visitors 40 minutes to an hour to walk, has also begun. The recycling committee has come up with a plan and containers to collect plastic, glass, metal, organic material, and trash. The family that lives on Love Island will maintain the interpretive trail and operate a plastic collection center there. Local university students will help with the reforestation effort, which is scheduled to begin in June.

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March 2018

Repairs to the Puerto Pizarro interpretive center have been completed, and a ceremony was held to mark the center’s reopening.

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January 2018

The roof of the interpretive center has been replaced, and the front of the building and fence have been improved. Outlets and lights have also been upgraded. Interpretive infographics have been sent to Lima for printing. Construction of the island interpretive trail has begun. A recycling committee has been formed, and cans to collect plastic have been installed on the island.

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October 2017

Field representative Enrique Michaud visited Puerto Pizarro and the islands, and reports that project work has begun. Informational signs have been designed and are ready to print, the interpretative trail has been mapped out, and project leaders are finalizing an agreement with the local university to get volunteers for reforestation effort.

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