Gulf of California | WWF

Gulf of California

About the Area

The small subtropical sea between the mainland of Mexico and the Baja Peninsula is the Gulf of California - a large inlet once fed by several rivers, including the mighty Colorado, now reduced to a trickle due to a series of dams upstream in the U.S.
These rivers provide nutrients to the Gulf of California and push bottom waters up to the surface, making the Gulf's waters cooler and less salty than many tropical areas.

The variations in depth (northern part of the Gulf is shallow, but the south has depressions more than 10,000 feet deep) create powerful tides and help this ecoregion support diverse marine animals, including unusual endemic species.

Local Species
The gulf supports an endemic porpoise species, the endangered Vaquita (Phocoena sinus), and is a vital breeding area for the Forster's tern (Sterna forsteri).

Other species include the Blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus), resident populations of the Fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus), California gull (Larus californicus), Mexican rockfish (Sebastes macdonaldi), Roughjaw frogfish (Antennarius avalonis), Pacific seahorse (Hippocampus ingens), and the endemic Totoaba fish (Cynoscion macdonaldi).

Marine turtles include Black turtles (Chelonia agassizi), Hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata), Olive ridley turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea), and Loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta).

Sedimentation from and diversion of the Colorado River for irrigation has seriously altered the ecology of the gulf. Pollution and mining pose important threats to biodiversity in this region.

Overfishing poses a threat to species such as the endemic and threatened totoaba fish (Cynoscion macdonaldi), while bottom trawling destroys eelgrass beds and kills shellfish.


Habitat type:
Tropical Upwelling

Geographic Location:
Eastern Pacific Ocean between mainland Mexico and the Baja Peninsula

Conservation Status:

Quiz Time!

How is it that the male seahorse bears the pregnancy instead of the female?

A female deposits hundreds of her ripe eggs into the male's pouch, where they are fertilized and the pouch sealed. Each developing egg receives nutrients and oxygen from the male and after two to three weeks, depending on the species and water temperature, the male gives birth to the young. The males are usually able to become pregnant again right after giving birth!

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
Donate to WWF

Your support will help us build a future where humans live in harmony with nature.

Enter Yes if you accept the terms and conditions
Enter Yes if you accept the terms and conditions