Sea of Cortes Wildlife

Marine Animals

From the largest mammal on earth to the tiniest microorganisms, the Sea of Cortés supports an amazing array of marine life. Thousands of invertebrate species cohabitate with more than 900 species of fish as well as whales and other large marine mammals.

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Whale Sharks

Meet the gentle giant of the Sea of Cortes, the whale shark. Truly whales—not sharks—whale sharks, the largest fish in the planet, can weigh up to 15 tons and stretch 40 feet long. That’s as heavy as the anchor of a ship and as long as a school bus. On a similar scale, whale sharks have 3,000 teeth, but they don’t use them to bite or chew. They just open their huge (five feet wide!) mouths to eat whatever plankton, squid, krill, and small fish cross their path. Good thing they don’t have to exert too much effort to feed, whale sharks are slow swimmers, topping out at three miles per hour.

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Parrot Fish

A fan favorite of the rainforests of Costa Rica & Panama is the red-eyed tree frog. These frogs camouflage themselves by closing their eyes and tucking in their brightly colored legs. When they sense a predator, they open their eyes and spread their toes, startling the predator. This technique called “startle coloration” shocks and confuses predators, giving the frog time to jump away.

Land Animals & Birds

More than 40 reptile and amphibian species, over 50 mammal species, and nearly 200 bird species call Baja California Sur “home.” While many are masters of disguise and concealment, here are some of the local residents you might spy:

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Spiny-tailed Iguanas

Little lizard, a lot of bravado. Some spiny-tailed iguanas stretch to five feet while others are just five inches long. Even the smallest of these male reptiles claim their territory with color changes, body inflation, and “push-ups,” a rapid nodding of the head. Spiny-tailed iguanas might be seen (their tails are longer than their bodies!) scampering up a tree.