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The Gulf of California
Gulf of California
(also known as the Sea of Cortez, Sea of Cortés or Vermilion Sea; locally known in the Spanish language
Spanish language
as Mar de Cortés or Mar Bermejo or Golfo de California) is a marginal sea of the Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean
that separates the Baja California Peninsula
Baja California Peninsula
from the Mexican mainland. It is bordered by the states of Baja California, Baja California
Baja California
Sur, Sonora, and Sinaloa
Sinaloa
with a coastline of approximately 4,000 km (2,500 mi). Rivers which flow into the Gulf of California
Gulf of California
include the Colorado, Fuerte, Mayo, Sinaloa, Sonora, and the Yaqui. The gulf's surface area is about 160,000 km2 (62,000 sq mi). The Gulf is thought to be one of the most diverse seas on the planet, and is home to more than 5,000 species of micro-invertebrates.[2] Home to over a million people, Baja California
Baja California
is the second-longest peninsula in the world, after the Malay Peninsula
Malay Peninsula
in Southeast Asia.[3] Parts of the Gulf of California
Gulf of California
are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Contents

1 Geography 2 Temperature 3 Geology 4 Weather 5 Marine Life 6 Shores and tides 7 Estuaries 8 Islands 9 Bathymetry 10 See also 11 Further reading 12 References 13 External links

Geography[edit] The International Hydrographic Organization
International Hydrographic Organization
defines the southern limit of the Gulf of California
Gulf of California
as: "A line joining Piastla Point (23°38'N) in Mexico, and the southern extreme of Lower California".[4] The Gulf of California
Gulf of California
is 1,126 km (700 mi) long and 48–241 km (30–150 mi) wide, with an area of 177,000 km2 (68,000 sq mi), a mean depth of 818.08 m (2,684.0 ft), and a volume of 145,000 km3 (35,000 cu mi).[1] The Gulf of California
Gulf of California
includes three faunal regions:

the Northern Gulf of California the Central Gulf of California the Southern Gulf of California

One recognized transition zone is termed the Southwestern Baja California Peninsula. Transition zones exist between faunal regions, and they usually vary for each individual species. (Faunal regions are distinguishable based on the specific types of animals found there.[5]) Temperature[edit] The temperature of the water in the Gulf of California
Gulf of California
generally experiences lows of 16 °C (61 °F) in winter and highs of 24 °C (75 °F) in summer. But temperatures can vary greatly in the gulf, and the water is almost always warmer by the coast than the open ocean. For example, the waters surrounding La Paz reach 30 °C (86 °F) in August, while the waters in neighboring city Cabo San Lucas, only reach 26 °C (79 °F).[1][6][7][8] Occasionally, the northern Gulf of California
Gulf of California
will go through significantly cold winters. The water in the Northern Gulf can sometimes drop below 8 °C (46 °F), which can lead to a large die-off of marine organisms. The animals most susceptible to the large decrease in water temperature include macroscopic algae and plankton.[3]

Average sea temperatures of Puerto Peñasco[7]

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

17 °C 63 °F

16 °C 61 °F

17 °C 63 °F

19 °C 66 °F

21 °C 70 °F

23 °C 73 °F

26 °C 79 °F

28 °C 82 °F

28 °C 82 °F

26 °C 79 °F

23 °C 73 °F

19 °C 66 °F

Average sea temperatures of La Paz[6]

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

19 °C 66 °F

19 °C 66 °F

21 °C 70 °F

23 °C 73 °F

25 °C 77 °F

27 °C 81 °F

28 °C 82 °F

30 °C 85 °F

28 °C 82 °F

27 °C 81 °F

24 °C 75 °F

21 °C 70 °F

Average sea temperatures of Cabo San Lucas[9]

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

20 °C 68 °F

19 °C 66 °F

19 °C 66 °F

19 °C 66 °F

20 °C 68 °F

21 °C 70 °F

24 °C 75 °F

26 °C 79 °F

26 °C 79 °F

26 °C 79 °F

24 °C 75 °F

22 °C 72 °F

Geology[edit]

Satellite picture of gulf.

Geologic evidence is widely interpreted by geologists as indicating the Gulf of California
Gulf of California
came into being around 5.3 million years ago as tectonic forces rifted the Baja California Peninsula
Baja California Peninsula
off the North American Plate.[10] As part of this process, the East Pacific Rise propagated up the middle of the Gulf along the seabed. This extension of the East Pacific Rise
East Pacific Rise
is often referred to as the Gulf of California Rift Zone. The Gulf would extend as far as Indio, California, except for the tremendous delta created by the Colorado River. This delta blocks the sea from flooding the Mexicali
Mexicali
and Imperial Valleys. Volcanism dominates the East Pacific Rise. The island of Isla Tortuga
Isla Tortuga
is one example of this ongoing volcanic activity.[11] Furthermore, hydrothermal vents due to extension tectonic regime, related to the opening of the Gulf of California, are found in the Bahía de Concepción, Baja California
Baja California
Sur.[12] Weather[edit] Even though the shores of the Gulf of California
Gulf of California
are generally sheltered from the continuous wave shock that is experienced by most other North American shores, storms known as a "chubasco" can cause significant damage to shorelines, despite their brevity.[3] Marine Life[edit]

Giant Pacific manta ray

The narrow sea is home to a rich ecosystem. In addition to a wide range of endemic creatures, such as the critically endangered tiny vaquita, it hosts many migratory species, such as the humpback whale, California gray whale, killer whale, manta ray, Humboldt squid
Humboldt squid
and leatherback sea turtle, and the world's largest animal, the blue whale. The unusual resident populations of fin whales and sperm whales do not migrate annually. The area near the delta of the Colorado river has a small remnant population of the totoaba fish. This region has historically been a magnet for world-class sport fishing activities, with a rich history of sporting world records. The region also has a rich history as a commercial fishery. However, the data vary wildly according to the species being studied, and the Gulf's ability to recuperate after years of overfishing remains uncertain. Moreover, changes in terrestrial ecology, such as the vast reduction in flow from the Colorado River
Colorado River
into the Gulf, have negatively affected fisheries, particularly in the northern region. The Gulf of California
Gulf of California
sustains a large number of marine mammals, many of which are rare and endangered. Its more than 900 islands are important nesting sites for thousands of seabirds, and its waters are primary breeding, feeding, and nursing grounds for myriad migratory and resident fish species. For decades, the gulf has been a primary source of two of Mexico's leading marine resources, sardines and anchovies. Water pollution is a problem in the Gulf of California, but the more immediate concerns are overfishing and bottom trawling, which destroys eelgrass beds and shellfish. Efforts by the Mexican government to create conservation zones and nature reserves have been hampered by lack of enforcement resources, as well as a lack of a political consensus on this issue of conservation of the Gulf.[citation needed] This occurs even though significant areas are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The thousands of miles of coastline are remote and difficult to police, and the politically powerful commercial fishing industry has been slow to embrace even economically viable conservation measures, much less strict measures of conservation. Conservation of the Gulf's fisheries and coastlines is also complicated by a long history of overcapitalization in the sector, and the direct, often negative, impacts that conservation measures have on the livelihoods of Mexico's coastal inhabitants. At present, the Mexican government and business interests have promoted a macro-level, tourist development vision for the Gulf, the impacts of which on local ecology and society are uncertain. Coastal communities are highly reliant on both commercial and sport fishing, including San Felipe, San Carlos, Sonora, Cabo San Lucas, La Paz, Loreto, Guaymas, Bahía Kino, Puerto Peñasco, Topolobampo
Topolobampo
and Mulegé. The well-developed shrimp and sardine fleets of Mazatlán, on the Mexican mainland's Pacific coast, heavily exploit the commercial fisheries of the southern Gulf. Many marine organisms can only survive within a particular salinity range, which makes salinity a notable factor in determining the types of potentially commercial organisms found in the Gulf of California. The mean annual ranges of salinity of the Sea of Cortez are between 3.5 and 3.58% at the surface.[1] Furthermore, the salinity of the water of the Northern Gulf of California
Gulf of California
is generally higher than the Central and Southern faunal regions due to the increased amount of evaporation that occurs in that region.[3] Shores and tides[edit] The three general types of shores found in the Gulf of California include rocky shore, sandy beach, and tidal flat. Some of the rich biodiversity and high endemism that characterize the Gulf of California and make it such a hotspot for fishing can be attributed to seemingly insignificant factors, such as the types of rocks that make up a shore. Beaches with softer, more porous rocks (such as Coquina limestone, rhyolites, granite, or diorite) generally have a higher species richness than those with harder, smoother rocks (such as basalt or diabase). Porous rocks will naturally have more cracks and crevices in them, making them ideal living spaces for many animals. The rocks themselves, however, generally need to be stable on the shore for a habitat to be stable. Additionally, the color of the rocks can affect the organisms living on a shore. For example, darker rocks will be significantly warmer than lighter ones, and can deter animals that do not have a high tolerance for heat.[3] The northern Gulf of California experiences tidal ranges of up to 5 m (16 ft). Mixed semidiurnal tides are the norm throughout most of the Gulf. Estuaries[edit] In the Gulf of California, there are a number of negative estuaries, that is, ones in which the evaporation of seawater is relatively greater than that of the fresh water input. The salinities of these inlets are higher than that of the ocean. The temperatures, poikilothermal, of these negative estuaries also are higher than the general temperature of the Gulf. It is possible that at one time these estuaries were positive, that is, ones in which the seawater component is diluted; therefore, the water is brackish, with salinity less than that of the ocean. However, due to human modification of the land use around the Gulf of California and water diversion for municipal and agricultural use, there are no longer many rivers that freely empty into the Gulf of California. The upper Colorado River
Colorado River
Delta is one example of a historically major estuary and wetlands ecosystem, that since the 20th century construction of upriver dams and diversion aqueducts on the Colorado River, is now a small ephemeral remnant estuary. It is included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The remaining Gulf inlets still are important to several species of fishes, crustaceans, and shellfish that are commercially harvested.[3] Islands[edit] The Gulf of California
Gulf of California
contains 37 major islands – the two largest being Isla Ángel de la Guarda
Isla Ángel de la Guarda
and Tiburón Island. Most of the islands are found on the peninsular side of the gulf. In fact, many of the islands of the Sea of Cortez are the result of volcanic explosions that occurred during the early history of Baja California. The islands of Islas Marías, Islas San Francisco, and Isla Partida
Isla Partida
are thought to be the result of such explosions. The formations of the islands, however, are not dependent on each other. They were each formed as a result of an individual structural occurrence.[3] Several islands, including Isla Coronados, are home to volcanoes. The gulf has more than 900 islets and islands which together total about 420 hectares. All of them as a whole were enacted as "Area Reserve and Migratory Bird Refuge and Wildlife" on August 2, 1978. In June 2000, the islands were given a new category "Protection Area Wildlife". In addition to this effort by the Mexican government, for its importance and recognition worldwide, all islands in the Gulf of California are also part of the international program "Man and Biosphere" (MAB) and are part of the World Reserve Network UNESCO Biosphere as Special
Special
Biosphere Reserve. Due to the vast expanse covered by this federal protected area conservation and management is carried out through a system of four regional directorates (one per bordering the Gulf of California
Gulf of California
state) by way of co-direction. There is a regional directorate in the states of Baja California, Baja California Sur, Sonora
Sonora
and Sinaloa. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the work of direct and indirect conservation is done in the islands is governed by a single Management Program, published in 2000, which is complemented by local and specific management programs (at individuals) archipelagos. The Directorate of Protection Area Wildlife California Gulf Islands (APFF-GCR) in Baja California
Baja California
is responsible for 56 islands located off the coast of the state. These are grouped into four archipelagos: San Luis Gonzaga or Enchanted, Guardian Angel, Bahia de los Angeles and San Lorenzo.[13][14] Bathymetry[edit] Depth soundings in the gulf have ranged from fording depth at the estuary near Yuma, Arizona, to in excess of 3,000 meters (9,800 ft) in the deepest parts. The depth of the water helps to determine its temperature. For example, shallow depths are directly influenced by the local temperature of the air, while deeper waters are less susceptible to changes in air temperature.[3] See also[edit]

List of western shore communities on the Gulf of California Ferdinand Konščak

Further reading[edit]

Brusca, Richard C. (Editor) (2010). The Gulf of California: Biodiversity and Conservation. University of Arizona Press. pp. 354 pages. CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link) Studies by researchers, on both sides of the border, on the threats to the diversity of species in the gulf's waters.

References[edit]

^ a b c d Rebekah K. Nix. "The Gulf of California: A Physical, Geological, and Biological Study" (PDF). University of Texas at Dallas. Retrieved April 10, 2010.  ^ Ernesto Campos, Alma Rosa de Campos & Jesús Angel de León-González (2009). "Diversity and ecological remarks of ectocommensals and ectoparasites (Annelida, Crustacea, Mollusca) of echinoids (Echinoidea: Mellitidae) in the Sea of Cortez, Mexico". Parasitology Research. 105 (2): 479–487. doi:10.1007/s00436-009-1419-8.  ^ a b c d e f g h Richard C. Brusca (1973). A Handbook to the Common Intertidal Invertebrates of the Gulf of California. Tucson, Arizona: University of Arizona Press. pp. 10–15. ISBN 0-8165-0356-7.  ^ "Limits of Oceans and Seas, 3rd edition" (PDF). International Hydrographic Organization. 1953. Retrieved February 7, 2010.  ^ "The Gulf of California
Gulf of California
Invertebrate Database: The Invertebrate Portion of the Macrofauna Golfo Database". Arizona- Sonora
Sonora
Desert Museum: Center for Sonoran Desert Studies.  ^ a b [1] Archived December 21, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-07-15. Retrieved 2012-06-12.  ^ "Marine Biology of Baja California". Math.ucr.edu. Retrieved 2013-12-08.  ^ "San Jorge Water Temperature (Sea) and Wetsuit Guide (Baja Sur, Mexico)". Surf-forecast.com. Retrieved 2013-12-08.  ^ Hamilton, W.B., 1961, Origin of the Gulf of California: GSA Bull., 72, 1307-1318. ^ "Science Plans RCL". review.nsf-margins.org. Retrieved May 27, 2008.  ^ Leal-Acosta, M.L., Prol-Ledesma, R.M., (2016). "Caracterización geoquímica de las manifestaciones termales intermareales de Bahía Concepción en la Península de Baja California" (PDF). Boletín de la Sociedad Geológica Mexicana (in Spanish). 68 (3): 395–407. CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link) ^ "Valle de los Cirios. Tesoro de Baja California". 14 July 2010.  ^ "Área de Protección de Flora y Fauna Islas del Golfo de California en Baja California". 

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Gulf of California.

Wikisource
Wikisource
has original text related to this article: Gulf of California

All About Baja - Learn all about the Sea of Cortez and the entire Baja peninsula. CEDO Intercultural Desert Museum

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Archaeological Zone of Paquimé, Casas Grandes El Pinacate y Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve Islands and Protected Areas of the Gulf of California1 Rock Paintings of Sierra de San Francisco Whale Sanctuary of El Vizcaino

North Central

Camino Real de Tierra Adentro Franciscan Missions in the Sierra Gorda
Franciscan Missions in the Sierra Gorda
of Querétaro Historic Centre of Zacatecas Historic Monuments Zone of Querétaro Historic Town of Guanajuato and Adjacent Mines Protected town of San Miguel and the Sanctuary of Jesús Nazareno de Atotonilco

West

Agave Landscape and Ancient Industrial Facilities of Tequila Archipiélago de Revillagigedo Historic Centre of Morelia Hospicio Cabañas, Guadalajara Islands and Protected Areas of the Gulf of California1 Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve1

East

Earliest 16th-century Monasteries on the slopes of Popocatépetl1 Pre-Hispanic City of El Tajín Historic Centre of Puebla Historic Monuments Zone of Tlacotalpan

South West

Historic Centre of Oaxaca and Archaeological Site of Monte Albán Prehistoric Caves of Yagul
Yagul
and Mitla
Mitla
in the Central Valley of Oaxaca Pre-Hispanic City and National Park of Palenque

South Central

Archaeological Monuments Zone of Xochicalco Aqueduct of Padre Tembleque
Aqueduct of Padre Tembleque
Hydraulic System Central University City Campus of the UNAM Earliest 16th-century Monasteries on the slopes of Popocatépetl1 Camino Real de Tierra Adentro Historic Centres of Mexico
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City and Xochimilco Luis Barragán House and Studio Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve1 Pre-Hispanic City of Teotihuacán

South East

Ancient Maya City of Calakmul, Campeche Historic Fortified Town of Campeche Pre-Hispanic City of Chichén Itzá Sian Ka'an Pre-Hispanic Town of Uxmal

1 Shared by mo

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