Gulf of California

For the John Steinbeck Novel, see Sea of Cortez: A Leisurely Journal of Travel and Research
The Gulf of California (highlighted)
The Gulf of California (highlighted)

The Gulf of California (also known as the Sea of Cortez or Sea of Cortés; locally known in the Spanish language as Mar de Cortés or, much less frequently, Golfo de California) is a body of water that separates the Baja California Peninsula from the Mexican mainland. It is bordered by the states of Baja California, Baja California Sur, Sonora, and Sinaloa. The name "Gulf of California" predominates on most maps in English today. The name "Sea of Cortés" is the one preferred by most local residents.


It was named in honor of Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés (or "Cortez") by Francisco de Ulloa in 1539. Ulloa originally believed that the gulf led to the mythical Strait of Anian, which connected the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean.

Melchior Díaz made extensive explorations in the area in 1540, including surveying the Colorado River, which at that time flowed into the upper gulf.


Missing image
Giant Pacific Manta Ray

The narrow sea is home to a unique and rich ecosystem. In addition to a wide range of endemic creatures, it hosts many migratory species, such as the humpback whale, California Gray Whale, manta ray and Leatherback Sea Turtle. 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. Some authors have reported witnessing tuna schools more than 100 miles (160 km) long in this region.

Today, the sea still attracts tourists from around the world, but the fishing resource is in serious decline. Efforts by the Mexican government to create conservation zones have been hampered by a lack of enforcement resources and a lack of political consensus. The thousands of miles of coastline are remote and difficult to police, and the commercial fishing industry is organized into politically powerful labor unions that have been slow to embrace strict conservation measures.

Sea of Cortés communities that are highly reliant on the sport fishing industry include Cabo San Lucas, La Paz, Loreto, Guaymas, and Mulegé. Ensenada, on Baja California's Pacific Ocean coast, and Mazatlán, on the Mexican mainland's Pacific coast, depend on the sagging commercial fishery.

Colorado River system
Dams and aqueducts (see US Bureau of Reclamation)
Shadow Mountain Dam | Granby Dam | Glen Canyon Dam | Hoover Dam | Davis Dam | Parker Dam | Palo Verde Diversion Dam | Imperial Dam | Laguna Dam | Morelos Dam | Colorado River Aqueduct | San Diego Aqueduct | Central Arizona Project Aqueduct | All-American Canal | Coachella Canal | Redwall Dam
Natural features
Colorado River | Rocky Mountains | Colorado River Basin | Grand Lake | Sonoran desert | Mojave desert | Imperial Valley | Colorado Plateau | Grand Canyon | Glen Canyon | Marble Canyon | Paria Canyon | Gulf of California/Sea of Cortez | Salton Sea
Dirty Devil River | Dolores River | Escalante River | Gila River | Green River | Gunnison River | Kanab River | Little Colorado River | Paria River | San Juan River | Virgin River
Major reservoirs
Fontenelle Reservoir | Flaming Gorge Reservoir | Taylor Park Reservoir | | Navajo Reservoir | Lake Powell | Lake Mead | Lake Havasu
Dependent states
Arizona | California | Colorado | Nevada | New Mexico | Utah (See: Colorado River Compact)
Designated areas
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area | Lake Mead National Recreation Area

da:Cortezhavet de:Golf von Kalifornien et:California laht es:Mar de Cortés nl:Golf van Californië ja:カリフォルニア湾


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