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Marine Life in Los Cabos

November 21, 2020

The late French explorer Jacques Cousteau wasn’t kidding when he described the Sea of Cortez as “the Aquarium of the World” when he visited the region in the 1960s. It is that and more and remains so.

A good introductory marine life experience for visitors is a glass-bottom boat tour to El Arco, the iconic sea arch at Land’s End. Colorful fish typically dart under the boat when the captain throws a few morsels of food into the water. On the lee side of the soaring granite rock formations, near where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific Ocean, a colony of California sea lions can be observed, their cigar-shaped bodies usually draped across a wave-washed rock shelf.

Snorkelers can have a field day at two of the finest Blue Flag eco-certified beaches in Los Cabos: Chileno Bay and Santa Maria. At both beaches, schools of vibrant-colored tropical fish populate the coral-encrusted reefs that have grown overtime on the lava rock fingers that protrude into the sea. Even experienced snorkelers should exercise caution: the fish tend to congregate in rocky areas at the far ends of the beaches. Incoming waves can push even strong swimmers into the coral, which is sharp.

For an unforgettable underwater experience, aquatic explorers can visit Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park. Located on the East Cape an hour’s drive from San Jose del Cabo, Cabo Pulmo is a protected marine sanctuary in the Sea of Cortez. Its snorkeling and scuba diving opportunities are unparalleled in the Baja.

The park’s gigantic reef, reckoned to be 20,000 years old, and the 7,111 hectares of gin-clear waters surrounding it were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005. Divers and snorkelers can observe more than 900 fish species and 32 types of marine mammals at Cabo Pulmo, including sea turtles, manta rays, and octopus. Here’s the place to see rainbow wrasse and butterflyfish and dozens of other reef dwellers swarm around mounds of golden coral. Advanced divers seeking an adrenalin rush can arrange to swim with Cabo Pulmo’s resident sharks.

Speaking of sharks: In the waters of the capital city of La Paz, located on the East Cape two hours from Cabo San Lucas, whale sharks are common at this time of year. Adventurers can swim and snorkel alongside these magnificent animals, the largest fish in the ocean, as they glide slowly through the water. They’re filter feeders in search of plankton, not sharp-toothed hunters, so proximity to these gentle giants, which attain a length of 30 feet, is safe.

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