Gulf of California

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The Gulf of California, also known as the Sea of Cortez, covers about 160,000 square kilometers, has over 4,000 kilometers of coastline and reaches depths of over 3,000 meters, making it a rather substantial body of water. It hosts a number of migratory marine mammals, including Humpback Whales, Killer Whales and Blue Whales. There are also non-migratory populations of Fin and Sperm Whales. It is also the only place on earth where the critically endangered Vaquita Porpoise can be found.

The Gulf of California has been suffering from overfishing and bottom trawling, which both depletes the fish population and causes considerable damage to the sea floor. Pollution from fisheries around the coast are also infecting the waters and a reduction in flow from the Colorado River, which feeds the Gulf, is causing problems that have not yet been fully understood. The Gulf is entirely under the jurisdiction of Mexico, and despite efforts from the government, including the recent establishment three Marine Protected Areas, political instability has made protecting the area quite difficult. Large areas of the coast are unmonitored, and the fisheries largely ignore conservation measures. The Marine Protected Areas are an important first step, but overall there is far too little being done to preserve the ecosystem in the Gulf.

Learn more about the broader region: North East Pacific