The Sea of
Cortez is somewhere close to five million years old (estimates vary
greatly), making it the youngest of all the seas in the world. The Baja peninsula
was formed during an era of frequent volcanic activity and earthquakes of
unbelievable magnitude. While the volcanoes and the San
Andreas fault were violently creating the Baja peninsula they were also
forming the great chasm that would eventually become the Sea of Cortez.
long period of time these actions separated what is now the Baja peninsula
from the rest of México. This entire process took over ten million
years and eventually the Pacific Ocean poured in and filled the gap
This final action is what created the incredible Sea of Cortez and Baja.
of the volcanic peaks broke off and fell into the chasm, later some became
islands. Continuing volcanic eruptions, over the eons, created even more
islands, 37 total. The San
Andreas fault runs right down the very middle of the Sea of
Cortez, which explains the violent activity during the period of the sea's
the first charts, drawn in the early 1500's, depicted Baja as an island.
This was disproven in 1539 by Francisco de Ulloa who was sent by Hernán
Cortes to explore the area. Cortes had heard persistent rumors that
there was an island ruled by Amazon women with weapons of made of gold
and that the surrounding waters were paved with endless beds of pearls. Ulloa named the sea after his benefactor.
then, let us concern ourselves with the present. The Sea of Cortez is
a major tourism draw for both Northern Baja and Southern Baja. This
incredible body of water is still somewhat unknown in the overall scope of
world destinations. Although It is well known to
fisherman, scientists, conservationists, water sports enthusiasts as well as
recreational boaters, many in the world have no knowledge of this sea.
Biologically speaking the Sea of Cortez is the richest body of water on our
entire planet. This diverse sea supports more than 900 varieties of
fish and more than 2000 species of marine invertebrates. It is home to
many species that exist only within it's waters.
The sea is abundant with game fish, both small and large, and an extraordinary
amount of world record fish have been taken is these waters. Several
species of whales regularly visit the sea and the Whale Shark, which is the
world's largest fish, is quite common as far north as Bahia de Los Angeles.
the reason this small sea is home to so many species of fish and other
marine creatures? It basically has to do with the food supply that is
so abundant in the Sea of Cortez. The reason for the abundance of food
is complex but in simple terms it is not that difficult to understand.
The Sea of
Cortez is too small to have much of a real lunar tide of it's own. Even
though it has no tides the sea does produce a very strong tidal flow.
The lunar tides of the Pacific cause strong currents in the sea which
actually occur as a lifting motion. The speed of these currents is
determined in part by the width of the shore, the depth of the water and the contour of the bottom.
Near the Midriff islands, in very deep water this lifting action creates
vertical currents know as upwellings. A funnel like effect can be
caused also, depending on the bottom and the currents. Because of severe changes in the
bottom contour there can be an upwelling and a whirlpool very close
together. These radical movements move fish, plankton and other
nutriments around as if in a washing machine. The nutriments are
affected by different currents and movements throughout the sea, keeping the
fish population very well fed and very happy to be in the Sea of Cortez.
Happy fish make for happy fishermen!
The vaquita porpoise, one
of the world's rarest marine mammals, is found only in the northern reaches
of Sea of Cortez. These small porpoise are also one of the most
endangered sea mammals in the entire world.
The current population of the vaquita porpoise is thought to be 200 or
less, barely a sustainable number. To find out how to help save the vaquita visit:
www.vaquita.tv, and watch the 7 part documentary. This is another
website with a lot of information about what you can do to save the vaquita:
Vaquita! If you are not touched by this very serious problem, you
have a serious problem.
stories that have come from this sea often seem unbelievable, when in fact,
most are true. It is near
impossible to describe the realities of fishing at, the East Cape for example, to someone who has never
fished in the area. For the first time Baja fisherman the Sea of
Cortez, from Cabo San Lucas all the way to San Felipe, will feel like your
wildest fishing dream come true. The incredible variety and abundance of
fish may even be a bit overwhelming to someone who is used to fishing the costal waters or lakes anywhere in the U.S.
In the not
to distant past, before the 1974 completion of the trans peninsular highway,
this was a destination of the truly hard core fisherman. Travel plans
were difficult to arrange, communications and local transportation providers
were spotty, at best. The fishing conditions pre-1974 were much
better than they are today, if you can believe it. With the opening of
the highway, came the tourists, and resorts were built to cater to them.
With the tourists came the sport fishing fleets and of course the word
spread about this incredible fishing destination.
trouble in the Sea of Cortez! Commercial fishing interests are
depleting the fishery with amazing speed. Gill nets along with illegal
fishing practices are commonplace in all regions of the sea (except at Cabo
Enforcement of any laws, bans on a particular species or tonnage limits are
very rarely enforced. This is sadly happening in all
areas of the Sea of Cortez and it is happening to all species of fish.
hope! The small community of
has proven that there are solutions to the problems that occur daily
in the Sea of Cortez. This very small Baja village took matters into
their own hands 15 years ago and is living proof that with proper conservation
practices and active vigilance the local communities can survive and the sea can be
San Luis Gonzaga
Bahía de Los Angeles
The East Cape
Cabo San Lucas
San Jose del Cabo
The Whales of Baja
Whale Watching Videos
San Felipe Videos
Bahia de Los Angeles Videos
Santa Rosalía Videos
Bahia Concepcion Videos
La Paz Videos
East Cape Videos
Cabo Pulmo Videos
San Jose del Cabo Videos
Cabo San Lucas Videos
East Cape Webcam
La Paz Webcam