29 Nov Why the Sea of Cortez Should Be On Your Family’s Wildlife Bucket List
You never forget your first sea lion—the first sleek, several-hundred pound creature making a beeline toward your face as you try to breathe through your snorkel and relax. This is why you came to the Sea of Cortez, you remind yourself, as the curious sea lion makes a final playful swerve to the left and disappears as quickly as she came: this is one of life’s bucket list experiences you can check off together with your kids, who are right there at your side.
Jacques Cousteau called Mexico’s Sea of Cortez “The Aquarium of the World,” owing to its richly diverse marine life, which includes 3,000 invertebrate species, nearly 900 species of fish, and dozens of marine mammals that migrate to and from the region throughout the year. For a family of wildlife enthusiasts, these waters—and their desert islands and shoreline—don’t disappoint.
In fact, the Sea of Cortez is frequented both by the earth’s largest fish (the whale shark) and the earth’s largest mammal (the blue whale), either of which would make a big enough impression on kids to last a lifetime. Whether you set out by kayak, zodiac, panga, small cruise ship, or snorkel, it pays to keep a close watch around you on the Sea of Cortez. You never know which amazing creature may soon pass by.
You don’t have to travel to the Galapagos to see blue-footed boobies. Sure, roughly half of the species nests in the Galapagos Islands, but the rest can be found in remote rookeries along the eastern shoreline of the Pacific Ocean, from the Sea of Cortez down to Peru.
California Sea Lions
On the tiny rock islets of Los Islotes, you may see as many as 400 sea lions grouped together in the breeding season. At other times, mothers nurse their pups peacefully in the sun and nudge them into the water for occasional swimming lessons. Naturalists caution against approaching a nursing mother, but in Cortez, it’s likely the sea lions will be approaching you. Known for their playfulness and curious nature, California sea lions won’t shy away from snorkelers, but rather dive in for a closer look and often an invitation to play.
Whale sharks, which can grow up to 40 feet long, migrate to the Bay of La Paz in the southern Sea of Cortez each October. Spotting one from a boat or a paddle board can be exciting enough, but if you play your cards right, your family might even get to swim beside one of these gentle giants.
During winter and early spring, several species of whale call on the Sea of Cortez. They include pilot, sperm, and humpback whales, but also the largest member of the animal kingdom: the blue whale, which has been known to reach 100 feet in length. Whale-watching opportunities abound throughout the Sea of Cortez, but the blue whales have one special destination they return to time and time again: Loreto Bay National Marine Park. A well-timed visit may land you among the blue whales and their babies—many birthed right in the park’s protected waters.
Ready to book a family trip to the Sea of Cortez? Consider these Adventure Collection Journeys: