A GUIDE TO THE MOST IMPRESSIVE WILD ANIMALS IN BAJA
When a nutrient rich sea meets a ocean you can expect a lot of big wildlife. There was a reason why pioneer explorer Jaques Cousteau call the Sea of Cortez the "Aquarium of the world". Discover with us whales, dolphins, sharks, sea lions, marine turtles and hundreds of sea birds.
No matter if you are a scuba diver, a snorkeler or just a nature lover: We bring you closer to some of the most astounding wildlife on our planet!
California Sea Lion ZAPHOLUS CALIFORNIANUS
Less then an hour from La Paz lies the small sea lion colony San Raffaelito. It is quite common to sea some juvenil animals passing near the shores of the city. The biggest and healthiest coloniy lies slightly north of the Island Espiritu Santo. In this protected areas you will find many very playful pups who often act more like young dogs than wild animals. This is one of the most intimate wildlife encounters you will find around the world. Apart from the mating season ( June to August) even the intimidating 350 kg heavy males are docile. Smaller colonies can be found in Cabo San Lucas, Cabo Pulmo and San Francisco Island.
Season: Whole year, swimming only September-May
Type of Interaction: Boat, Snorkeling or Scuba Diving
Whale Shark RHINCODON TYPUS
To see the biggest fish in the world is an unforgettable experience! In many places you would need a big portion of luck tha have an encounter like this. But not in Baja Californa Sur. Here we find huge Aggregation of juvenile animals just 20 minutes outside the City of La Paz. Apart from very windy or cloudy days it is very common to find those animals by boat and almost always we manage to swim with these gentle, beautiful giants of the sea.
Season: September - May
Type of interaction: Boat (easy), Snorkeling (basic fitness required)
Humpback Whale MEGAPTERA NOVAEANGLIAE
Those charismatic and majestic giants are well known for their songs and wild acrobatics. But it is equally impressive to watch them dive, play with their young or hit their five meter long flippers on the surface of the ocean. Each November the Humpback whale com into the warmer waters of Baja to breed and give birth to their young. The biggest aggregation spot is in front of Los Cabos but many will also enter the gulf and travel, past La Paz to the Islands of San Jose and San Francisco.
Saison: November – April
Type of Interaction: Boat observation
Gray Whale ESCHRICHTUS ROBUSTUS
In the seventies the first stories emerged of Tourists going whale watching in small, inflatable boats, which then would get gently pushed around by fully grown, 45 tons weighting whales. Initially of course nobody wanted to believe it, until the first pictures got published. Until today we can't wholly explain the phenomena of "the friendly whales". But each year more and more of those whale - human interactions seem to happen. Many times the mothers will choose to push their calf towards the boat and let it being touched by humans. This definitely is one of the best, touching and unexplainable human - wildlife interactions of our planet!
Season:Januar - April (best months: February & March)
Type of Interaction: Boat Observation
Bull Shark CARCHARHINUS LEUCAS
Many people have a profound fear of sharks. Bull sharks are one of the most feared species in the world. We find those fears unfounded. Even though thousands of people dive every year with those sharks in Cabo Pulmo, there has never been an attack. The Nationalpark of Cabo Pulmo is their natural home. The interaction here is entirely natural, no chumming or feeding is taking place. This is one of the best places in the world to meet bull sharks in their natural environment.
Season: Year round (best months October - December)
Type of Interaction: SCUBA Diving ( At least Open Water Diver certification required)
In Baja California Sur you can find five out of the seven marine turtles of the world.
While diving and snorkeling on the gulf side, it is common to find hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), loggerhead (Caretta caretta) , and green turtles (Chelonia mydas). On the pacific side, near Todos Sanntos, it is possible to observe Olive ridley turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) nesting and you can even release the hatchlings into freedom. The leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) lays occasionally eggs on the same beaches.
Season gulf side: year round
Type of interaction: Boat obseravtion, Volunteer Science program, Snorkeling Scuba Diving
Season Pacific side: nesting: year round / hatchlings: December - April
Type of interaction: Releasing, Observation on Beach, Volunteer Science program
Bottlenose Dolphin TURSIOPS TRUNCATUS
The most famous and one of the most common dolphin species, the bottlenose dolphin can also be found in Baja. Different populations can be observed just in front of the City of La Paz, around the Islands of Loreto, and generally all along the coast of Baja. The group sizez vary from one up to fifty animals! Is there anything more beautiful than observing wild dolphins in their natural habitat?
Season: year round
Type of interaction: Boat observation
Common Dolphin DELPHINUS CAPENSIS and DELPHINUS DELPHIS
These highly social marine mammals spend their whole life in big pods that can join into megapods of over 2000animals! It is possible to observe these beautiful dolphins all along the coast of Baja. It is quite common to see them around the Islands of Espiritu Santo, San Jose and Carmen.
Season: year round
Type of interaction: Boat observation
Blue whale BALAENOPTERA MUSCULUS
The biggest animal that has ever lived on our planet. Driven to the edge of extinction by the whaling industry, this monogamous species is only slowly recovering from the slaughters of the 18th and 19th centuries. Despite their immense size we still know very little about their migration, communication and reproduction. Every year they arrive off the coast of Loreto to feed in those nutrient rich waters. Many times they mingle peacefully with the also giant Fin whales and provide a unique spectacle for whale watchers.
Saison: Ende Dezember – März
Art der Interaktion: Bootsfahrt
More whale species
Baja California is one of the places with the highest diversity of cetacean species. Apart from the species above there are chances to encounter fin whales, bryde's whales, sei whales, sperm whales, pilot whales, killer whales and many beaked whale species.
Devil rays (MOBULA)
Mobula munkiana, Mobula japanica, Mobula thurstoni
There are four main species of devil rays living in the waters of Baja California Sur. This is one of the very few places on earth where you can see those highly energetic fish jump up in the air and fall back into the water like a fresh pancake. Scientists are still not sure about the purpose of this behaviour.
In high season it is possible to observe hundreds of them and sometimes even to dive with them while they are feeding on plankton.
Season: May - November
Type of interaction: Boat observation, Snorkeling, SCUBA DIVING
The unique climate and location of Baja California created a cradle of an astounding biodiversity: Between many pelagic species such as Tuna, Mackrel, Mahi Mahi, Sharks and Marine Mammals one can find many tropical reef fish like Butterfly-, Trigger-Parrot-, surgeon,-, puffer- and angelfish. The manly rocky reefs are home to some of the furthest northern growing coral in the world, nudibranchs, moray eels, stingrays, gobies and blennies. Most impressive is the biomass in the protected areas. Huge, swarming schools of thousands of fish create the feeling of swimming in a huge aquarium.
Over 514 species of birds have been identified on the Baja Peninsula. Among the sea birds one can find the prehistoric looking California brown pelican, the rare and beautiful american white pelican, the magnificent frigate bird and the cute blue footed boobie. Great blue herons nest on top of spiny cactuses and on land hummingbirds and cardinals enchant the visitor. It is indeed a paradise for Birdwatchers!
The Sonora Desert, of which Baja California Sur is a part of, is famous for it's various reptile species. Whoever wants to observe or photograph those animals has come to the right place. Though they are very shy and it takes quite a bit of an effort to find those beautiful creatures. On the desert islands of the gulf it is even possible to see endemic species such as the Baja blue rock lizard (Petrosaurus thalassinus).