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Marine Life in La Paz

The Baja Peninsula is surrounded by two seas of extraordinary richness: the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortés. Each Sea possesses different oceanic characteristics and embraces unique marine environments of sea life that contrast with the desert mountain scapes, their bizarre plants and isolated islands. Marine eco-touristical and adventure travel activities on either coast offer diverse, overwhelming and exciting experiences.
Whale watching, island camping and trekking, scuba diving, sportfishing, sea kayaking, seabird watching, sailboarding and surfing are some of the activities that can be part of your visit.
La Paz possesses a geographically fortunate position, allowing visitors to travel quite easily to the west to the shores and islands of the Pacific Ocean or east toward the islands scattered throughout the Sea of Cortés. Only three and a half hours drive from La Paz on the Pacific Coast is the coastal lagoon of Magdalena bay. The bay has narrow openings to the Pacific Ocean through which the tide flushes water in and out, bringing nutrients and oxygen to its diverse marine inhabitants. The water becomes a soup of minute organisms and fishes, which in turn attracts seabirds of many species during the winter months. Sea kayaking and bird watching while paddling through the mangrove canals of the calm and sunny lagoon is a relaxing activity everyone can enjoy at Magdalena Bay.
Every year in the months of January to middle March, the California gray whales come to perpetuate the magical ritual of reproduction. Mating and nursing behavior are closely observed aboard licensed vessels driven by local Mexican fishermen who were born in the vicinity of the lagoons.
Magdalena Bay is the southernmost of the three main calving lagoons and is closest to La Paz. Visitors can be transported by car to the lagoons and visit for the day. Or you may choose to stay in a local hotel in Puerto San Carlos or join expeditions lead by La Paz outfitters and camp on the islands that surround the bay.
The Pacific Ocean of Baja California Sur near La Paz has beautiful, seemingly endless white sand shorelines with good surfing breaks at Todos Santos, Pescadero and Cerritos, all of which are only an hour’s drive from downtown La Paz.
The powerful tides in the Cortés, generated by fierce ocean currents, continually mix with the rich nutrient supply from the Colorado River. Intense turbulence and water renewal all work together to activate the food chain. As a result, it comes as no surprise to find such extraordinary biological abundance and diversity, so much that the richness found in the Sea of Cortés is unequaled in other seas of similar size. The southernmost regions belong to the municipality of La Paz and contain five major islands. From north to south, the islands of San Jose, Las Animas, San Francisco, Espiritu Santo and Cerralvo are nourished by the mist rising from the warm waters of the Sea of Cortés.
In the southern Sea of Cortés, there are more than eight hundred species of fish of which more than half are reef dwellers. Dense plankton swarms attract many species of filter feeding whales, giant mantas and whalesharks. Toothed whales, such as pilot whales, orcas and sperm whales transit the southern Sea of Cortés annually in search of food. Several dolphin pods reside in the area and are extremely predictable, appearing near the vessels to surf the waves left behind. Nice cool air in the winter months permits sea kayakers to paddle the tranquil turquoise blue waters of the islands, particularly Espíritu Santo Island, which has legendary white sand beaches and coves. You can snorkel "Los Islotes", the friendliest sea lion colony on Earth, or hike through its desert canyons and enjoy a dramatic, fiery red sunset, watching pelicans as they dive for sardines. Others more adventurous may prefer longer paddle journeys which start in Loreto and travel down the coast into the islands of La Paz. On these tours, you will experience and enjoy the hospitality of warm and friendly local fisherman, for whom the natural wonders are part of their everyday life.
The islands of Las Animas, San Jose, San Francisquito, Cerralvo and several sea mounts are recognized around the world for the quality of the scuba diving and close encounters with large pelagics are frequent.
Schooling hammerheads (non-aggressive), tunas, groupers, moray eels, giant mantas, sea lions and whalesharks are all common to the area.
There are several first-class eco-tourism outfitters based in La Paz who care about the proper use of our natural resources in order to preserve them for future generations. They will be happy to expose you to the magic of Baja California. So please, come enjoy and protect our natural treasures.