Baja’s 7 Havens of Biodiversity

Baja’s 7 Havens of Biodiversity

Mexico is one of the most biologically diverse countries in the world. You can find 10 to 12% of all species on the planet here—more than 200,000.

Mexico’s 174 preserves, parks and sanctuaries make up 17 million hectares of natural ecosystems. You can explore seven reserves in Baja California Sur, going from north to south.

1. El Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve
Once the scene of mass whale slaughter, today Scammon’s Lagoon is part of one of the world’s largest reserves, with over 2.5 million hectares. It’s a safe haven for hundreds of mating and birthing gray whales, who migrate from Alaska every year. Seals, turtles and countless fish thrive here, too.

From desert to mangrove wetlands, varied ecosystems support many birds: osprey, collared goose, northern pintail, reddish egret, swallow, golden and white-headed eagles, and peregrine falcon. Mammals range from pronghorn antelope, white-tailed deer, and bighorn sheep to fox, lynx, and puma.

2. Lagoons of Magdalena Bay
South on the Pacific coast is another lagoon. Not only is Magdalena Bay a gray whale nursery, but its waters are rich in nutrients. Two currents—cold from Alaska and warm tropical waters from the south—converge to feed countless fish, birds, turtles, sharks, and whales.

3. Loreto Marine National Park
Cross over to the Sea of Cortez, to the mission town of Loreto. These protected waters harbor dense marine life. Sport fishermen and shellfish gourmets flock here. Thirty species of marine mammals top out with the blue whale, largest animal ever. Islands teem with unique reptiles, amphibians and insects. Yellow-footed gulls, a species discovered in the 1960s, breed only in the Sea of Cortez.

4. Bay of La Paz
One of the most biodiverse marine areas in Latin America, this bay with its famed dive sites is not protected. But the islands of Espiritu Santo and its sea lion rookery are. A rich plankton soup draws the biggest fish in the sea, the whale shark, from September to January.

5. Cabo Pulmo Marine National Park
This amazing marine park shelters the only living hard coral reef in the Americas. It supports 100 species of fish and 40 of seaweed and sea fans. Thanks to the “Friends of Cabo Pulmo,” it’s the world’s most robust marine reserve.

6. Sierra de la Laguna
Surprising mountains with a pine-oak forest herald a shift in flora and fauna. Woodpeckers, quail, hummingbirds, white-winged doves, hawks, and owls fly over coyotes, deer, black-tailed jackrabbits, bobcats, pumas, gray foxes, 40 species of reptiles and 100 different insects.

7. Cabo San Lucas Bay
At Land’s End lies one of the world’s deepest bays. Humpback and gray whales come from December to April, also orcas, dolphins and pilot whales. Reef and ocean fish join six species reserved for sport fishing.

May your explorations of biodiversity inspire you to keep living the low-impact way of life!

Condensed with permission of the author from:
Biodiversity, a word of life:
By Armando Figaredo
Date: April 2012

To read the article in its original Spanish version, click here.

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