To the Sea of Cortez, where the desert kisses the tide and one of the most biologically diverse environments on earth exists.
The Sea of Cortez is also known in English as the Gulf of California. It’s the body of water that separates the Baja Peninsula and mainland Mexico. (Often confused with the Gulf of Mexico, in the east, which separates Mexico and Florida.)
Our main focus is getting to know this part of Mexico, its people, and the Sea of Cortez. We will be traveling with Wilber (our Wharram designed ‘Tahiti Wayfarer’ outrigger canoe) from San Carlos, Sonora, north past the Colorado River Delta, then south along the coast of the Baja Peninsula. Our general goal is to eventually make it to “Land’s End,” but we’re all about the journey of getting there. Certainly not by the fastest nor most direct route, so it may take several months.
Did you know:
- Information about the Sea of Cortez varies greatly. It has been difficult to find two sources with similar facts or statistics.
- With a length of approximately 1450km/900miles, the Baja Peninsula is one of the longest peninsulas in the world. (1) (This all depends on how it’s being measured. Some statistics place it around 1200km/745mi long.)
- Mexico is a shortened name, like USA is for the United States of America. The full name is Los Estados Unidos Mexicanos, or the United States of Mexico.
- Mexico has 31 states and 1 Federal District (Similar to Washington D.C.)
- The Sea of Cortez is a large, semi-enclosed sea covering approximately 260,000 square km/ 100,000 square miles. (1)
- It is bordered by five Mexican states: 1. Baja California Sur, 2. Baja California, 3. Sonora, 4. Sinaloa, and 5. Nayarit. (1)
- The San Andres Fault, famous for causing earthquakes in California, runs down the middle of the Sea of Cortez. That is why the Sea of Cortez is so deep.
- At the deepest parts, the Sea of Cortez is over 3000m/10,740ft deep…that’s 3km or 2miles straight down! (2)
- Over 900 islands, islets, and emergent rocks have been identified, making it one of the world’s largest archipelagos. (1)
- The second largest island, Isla Angel de La Guardia, is 72km/45mi long. It is only 16km/10miles off the coast of the Baja Peninsula, but the channel that separates the two averages 1200m/4,000ft deep. (2) (The deepest part is over 5,000ft deep…nearly 1.5km or one mile below the sea. That’s like going from sea level to the elevation of Denver and back to the sea level in 10miles!)
- The Sea of Cortez is only 85km/53mi skinny at the most narrow point, but over 200km/125mi wide at its mouth (where it meets the Pacific Ocean). (1)
- The Sea of Cortez is one of the most biologically diverse bodies of water on the planet. It is home to over 6,000 recorded animal species (1), including:
- 900 species of fishes (1),
- 4,900 named invertebrates (1), including the Humboldt Squid
- Five of the world’s seven sea turtle species (1).
- More than 35 different species of marine mammals, including dolphins, porpoise, seals, sea lions, and over 20 different kinds of whales and an elusive porpoise known as the Vaquita. (The Vaquita is also considered the most endangered cetacean specie in the world.) (1) [Cetacean or the scientific classification order that includes whales, dolphins, and porpoises.]
- The Blue Whale is the largest animal on Earth, and the Sea of Cortez is the only semi-enclosed body of water they are known to enter. The largest Blue Whale on record was 108ft/33m long and weighed an estimated 170 tons. To put that in perspective, an average school bus is 40ft/12m long and weighs 5-15 tons. (3)
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Please note, due to the variance in information on the Sea of Cortez, the above tidbits are not verified facts. I therefore wish to acknowledge the following trusted educational resources:
1 – The Gulf of California Biodiversity and Conservation. Edited by Richard Brusca.
2 – Geology of California’s Imperial Valley: A Monograph by Eugene Singer. Chapter 9 The Gulf of California. San Diego State University College of Science. http://www.sci.sdsu.edu/salton/The%20Gulf%20of%20California.html
3 – Phil Loubere, The Register. Informational Graphic.
(Yes, I know they are not complete references, but it’s the best I can do at the moment.) 😉