Whale Sanctuary of El Vizcaino World Heritage Site
Sanctuaire de baleines d'El Vizcaino, Mexico
MARINE PROTECTED AREA
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The El Vizcaíno Biosphere Reserve, created in 1988, is located in Mulegé Municipality in northern Baja California Sur, at the center of the Baja California Peninsula between the Pacific Ocean and Sea of Cortez (or Gulf of California). With a landmass of over 55,555 square-mile (143,600 square km) it is the largest wildlife refuge in all of Latin America and certainly the most diverse.
The Cochimi first inhabited this region over eleven thousand years ago, nomads who came from the north of the American continent. These nomadic wanderers lived in the protection of caves in the Sierra San Francisco mountain range. Travelers making the trek into this mountainous region can still see their cave art.
The animals and plants of this territory have adapted themselves to the region’s extreme desert conditions with little rainfall, intense winds and an ecosystem which has produced thousands of endemic species of plants and animal life found nowhere else in the world.
Animals that have adapted to these extreme conditions include a variety of nocturnals such as coyotes, rodents, and hares; others have adapted to only ingesting water from succulents. Outstanding among the mammals is the Baja California Pronghorn (Antilocapra americana peninsularis), an endemic subspecies of the Pronghorn, which is one of the swiftest mammals on Earth. The last populations of this subspecies can be found in the region. The Vizcaíno is also the habitat of the Desert Bighorn Sheep (Ovis canadensis nelsoni), Mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus peninsulae), and dozens of resident and migratory birds. Of special importance: the ospreys, cormorants, herons, and gulls—and four species of sea turtles. On the coastline and islets there are many marine mammals, such as Northern Elephant Seals (Mirounga angustirostris), California Sea Lions (Zalophus californianus), dolphins, and Gray Whales (Eschrichtius robustus).
Coordinates: 27°47′32″N 114°13′40″W / 27.79222°N 114.22778°W / 27.79222; -114.22778
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