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The Sea of Cortez: “The Aquarium of the World”

The city of Cabo San Lucas is a paradise divided between the majestic Pacific Ocean and the wondrous Sea of Cortez.


The Sea of Cortez is also known as the Gulf of California. This impressive body of water is a sub sea of the Pacific ocean, located between mainland Mexico and the Baja California peninsula. The total surface area of the water in the Sea of Cortez is roughly 160,000 square kilometers (62,000 square miles), and the coastline spans an impressive 4,000 kilometers (2,500 miles).


The late French explorer Jacques Cousteau nicknamed the Sea of Cortez “The Aquarium of the World” for the wealth of species that live there and visit each year.

The warm, calm water of the Sea of Cortez is home to thousands of fish and mammal species.

Some of the animals that live in or migrate to the Sea of Cortez include:

  • Blue whale (the world’s largest mammal)
  • Humpback whale
  • California gray whale
  • Killer whale
  • Sharks
  • Marlin
  • Manta rays
  • Leatherback sea turtle and other species of sea turtles
  • Giant Humboldt squid
  • Vaquita (the world’s smallest porpoise, an endangered species)
  • Totoaba fish
  • Garden eels
  • Balloonfish
  • Mexican lookdowns
  • Cortez rainbow wrasses
  • Cortez angelfish
  • Yellowtail surgeonfish
  • King angelfish
  • More than 5,000 species of micro-invertebrates


There are 900 islands in the Sea of Cortez. The islands are nesting areas for thousands birds.


The beautiful and vast array of marine life makes the Sea of Cortez is one of the best scuba diving sites on Earth. Its variety and diverse ecology make the Sea of Cortez a unique and ideal place to find adventure while spotting exotic creatures.

The Sea of Cortez is also a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site.


So the next time you visit Cabo, be aware of the amazing wonder in your backyard that is the Sea of Cortez! Take advantage of the opportunity to experience some of the wildlife of the area up close by taking a scuba diving or snorkeling tour, or a whale watching tour. Or get out your binoculars and head out for some bird watching! You never know what beautiful species you might see!