Ever since Jacques Cousteau first dubbed the Sea of Cortez “the world’s aquarium” many decades ago,this 60,000-square-mile gulf has been the subject of legend and lore,with famed writer John Steinbeck writing about his adventures there in 1940 and explorers from around the world coming to plumb its now-legendary depths.
The Sea of Cortez is divided between a more temperate zone north of La Paz and a warmer,more Panamic zone in the region southward closer to Cabo San Lucas,which is the most popular resort city in the region and is located at the tip of the Baja California Sur Peninsula.
“The confrontation and subtle mixing of these two ecosystems partly accounts for its richness: Some 900 fish species and 32 types of marine mammal gather to feed and breed here,” writes The Telegraph. “Massive blooms of plankton mean that even elusive blue whales are seen here,along with the gnarled humpbacks and grey whales that sound and breach in the bay,to the delight of whale watching parties.”
Whale sharks also gather here and offer a unique swimming experience for adventurous visitors. These harmless giants are the largest fish in the ocean and boast mouths as wide four feet or more,reaching lengths of up to 50 feet. The whale sharks are known to migrate extremely long distances and make seasonal appearances along both the Caribbean coast and Pacific coast of Mexico.
The rich sea life in the Sea of Cortez exists in what is often stark contrast to the arid desert running along its edge,which becomes more and more apparent if you drive north from Cabo San Lucas. Here,it seems to be a new world,the landscape dotted with giant cardon cacti stretching to the distant Cordillera del Pacifico mountain range,which often cast an elusive cool blue shadow over the hot desert.
“Even on dry land,there is no escaping the sea,” writes The Telegraph. “At Los Islotes – a jumble of rocks north of Isla Espiritu Santo,a protected island off La Paz – a colony of around 300 California sea lions is thriving.”
Mexico’s Sea of Cortez is also known for its giant Pacific manta rays,which often provide exciting encounters for visitors. Like the whale sharks,they might be pretty impressive to look at but are harmless plankton feeders and are best seen here between August and November. Hammerhead sharks come to the region each year between November and January,while large schools of long-beaked dolphins,yellow fin and marlin are also found in these waters,and a variety of waterfowl,including blue herons,ospreys and blue-footed boobies,claim the rocky shoreline.
“Just as local people are adapting to a changing world,so too is the marine life,” writes The Telegraph. “[The region] around La Paz seems to be slowly waking up to selling its own charms and conserving its best assets.”