Friday, August 28, 2015

How to Make Authentic Baja Fish Tacos

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

El Niño and The Blob - 2015

Pacific Ocean temperatures rising three to six degrees warmer than average due to global warming have spurred a Super El Nino Watch to be issued, with anticipated historic rain-related devastation to develop, such as floods and landslides. Federal climate experts have become increasingly confident that a strong El Nino will drench drought-stricken California and northern Mexico this winter, possibly starting as soon as October, bringing with it deep concerns about human rights to health and safety, survival.

“As far as I can tell, it’s currently as large as it’s ever been for this time of year,” Trenberth stated.

Hundreds of deaths and hundreds of millions of dollars in damage from the 1997 El Nino made it the costliest and one of the deadliest Pacific hurricane seasons. Human safety and prevention measures need to be considered and related actions planned now. For starters, Southern California and northern Mexico residents are urged to begin stockpiling sandbags now, before supplies are depleted, according to Southern California Weather Force. It is anticipated that by the first of October, supplies will be limited.

El Niño events happen every three to five years or so. Changing wind patterns over the Pacific Ocean push a huge pool of warm seawater eastward toward the Americas. Some scientists have referred to this unusually warm water mass this year as the "blob". Warmth of this water shifts heat and moisture flowing around the planet. El Niño years can change storm activity, causing stronger typhoons (hurricanes) in the Pacific and quieter hurricane seasons in the Atlantic. This year’s El Niño is the first since 2010. Already, there have been four named hurricanes in the Pacific, setting records for mid-summer.

Sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies in the tropical Pacific have shown warming for weeks, leading to the Super El Nino, classified as having +2.0c above average temperatures in ENSO regions of the Central/Eastern Pacific at the equator. In one week, there was a jump from +1.7c (Strong El Nino) to +1.9c in the ENSO regions. This marks only +0.1c away from a Super El Nino. Seeing it this soon could either be good or bad. If trade winds kick in between now and November, El Nino would fade. It could be good if upward trends into Super El Nino Status continue, exactly as the SCWF Model curve predicts now. Some models show it hitting an unheard of +3.0c. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts this El Niño has a better than 90 percent chance of lasting straight through the Northern Hemisphere winter and an approximate 80 percent chance of continuing through spring.

Mark Purdy for the Mercury News says that "the characteristic of an El Niño winter in the Bay Area is rain, rain, rain and rain. And more rain. Considering our current drought situation, that should be an excellent thing."

People in flood prone zones are urged to stock sandbags. Demand will kick in harder during October and November when Fall/Winter/Spring El Nino kicks in.

El Nino has been responsible for tropical systems hitting the Hawaiian Islands this month and this will continue for the next couple of months. A trough after August 20th will be along the Western United States with a ridge to the east. Any tropical systems and/or hurricanes in the Eastern Pacific would be sucked northward toward California. While an individual hurricane cannot be predicted, tracks are such that systems would aim for the U.S.

El Nino has been responsible for recent wide temperature swings. Only a slightly above average temperature, however, is recorded this Summer. Around August 20, temperatures are predicted to begin rising. Temperatures are predicted to be above average across the region with widespread 100s in the valleys and scorching 115-120 for the low deserts. After the third week of August, temperatures are predicted to again plummet. Then, September will be above average in temperatures, with a number of heatwave events that would put the summer as a whole back into slight above average.

Heat and drought that has deflected storms away from California for the last 4-5 years now might not be such a problem Super El Nino predictions occur. This is because El Nino has a very strong jet stream pattern right into California. If warm water off the Pacific coast tries to deflect storms, problem areas would be less rain in Northern California and flooding disasters in Southern California. To end the drought, however, copious amounts of snow in the Central/Northern California areas would be needed.

That much rain in a Super El Nino is as devastating as the drought. Major flooding causing landslide damages could top $500 million and higher by the time El Nino ends.

National Weather Alerts Issued Here

Monday, August 10, 2015

La Paz: Cousteau’s Playground

La Paz may be the capital of Baja Sur, but in so many ways it feels like a small south-of-the-border town, nostalgic of old Baja but with a pleasing touch of yachting sophistication.

It remains a coveted secret to many Baja-bound vacationers.

Yes, a Walmart is positioned on the outlaying stretches of the city, but the downtown itself is peppered with patio restaurants to while away a lazy afternoon, small boutiques and pastel-washed buildings.

For sure, one thing La Paz is “not” is another Cabo. In fact, the city strives to be the antithesis, with all the good parts plus an absence of the more vibrant party scenes that have become synonymous with the city just a little more than hour away.

La Paz in Spanish means “peace,” a perfect way to describe its overwhelming serene natural beauty at every turn. One sentiment echoed by both part-time and full-time expats: “Don’t say too many great things about La Paz—everyone will want to come.” Sorry, I just have to share the riches of this tiny paradise.

The eastern coast of Baja California Sur with its pure aqua waters and sparkling white sand was thought by early explorers to be an island. Modern-day “explorers” know better—the area simply conveys a tropical “island” state of mind. Friendly people and a distinct laid-back vibe make La Paz an idyllic spot to enjoy the rhythm and flavor of Mexico, without the safety issues that are unfortunately attached to Mexican travel these days.

In fact, you can stroll the Malecon,La Paz’s equivalent to a promenade along the water in Monte Carlo. It is not unusual to see entire families taking the stroll along the water late at night. Boardwalk goers get a magical front-row view of sunsets over the water and local statuary, not to mention some of the best fish tacos in Mexico.

Gloria Oceguera, a part-time transplant from posh Marin, California was enjoying lunch with friends the day I met her.

“We have always liked Mexico,” said Oceguera who lives in La Paz about nine months a year now. “My husband loves to fish, and we feel very safe… We feel safer walking down the Malecon than on the streets of Marin. We saw the second homeless person ever (here) the other day.”

Find your Underwater Treasure

La Paz, directly facing the Sea of Cortez, is dotted by beaches, often yours alone for the day and rivaling some of the Caribbean’s most tempting. It is easy to believe that La Paz hasn’t changed much from the time John Steinbeck discovered its charms in the 1940s and Jacques Cousteau revealed its rich underwater treasures in the 1960s.

Cousteau called the waters surrounding La Paz “the world’s aquarium”—a most fitting description of the area’s rich and diverse ecosystems found in bay after aqua-blue bay with white- sand beaches protected by dramatic rock formations sprinkled with cacti. Harbor porpoises, dolphins, sea lions, mantas and whale sharks fill the waters and coves; migratory birds perch on the rocks and tiny islands that jut out from the sea. Locals call La Paz’s waterway the “whale highway” during the winter months when dozens of whales at a time can be seen making their annual migration to give birth a short distance away.

Make snorkeling the shallow waters of any bay, from scenic Balandra Bay to those unnamed “finds,” a must-do, as well as a cruise to Isla Espiritu Santo to view the sea lion colonies up close. The area is home to species representing more than one-third of the world’s marine mammals, including some unique creatures that only exist here—such as the Vaquita harbor porpoise, the world’s smallest aquatic mammal. Nine whale species and five marine turtles live among the peninsula’s waters, and hundreds of species of migrating birds find their nesting spots among the rocky cliffs. Deep ocean trenches and nutrient-rich sea beds make this one of the most important areas in the world for both commercial and sport fishing, verified by the numerous sports-fishing tournaments held in La Paz each year. Nearly 900 species of fish, 90 of them endemic, are found here.

Resurrected Colonial town

Wander the downtown of La Paz with architecture reminiscent of Old Mexico on one side of the highway and the glittering sea on the other—a visual feast in all directions. Do some low-key shopping then dine—either at one of several fresh-from-the-sea fish taco stands that line the Malecon or go where the locals dine, NIM, owned by chef Cristina Kiewek and her sister who also own a popular bistro, Marina Azul, at CostaBaja. Located in a section of downtown La Paz that is undergoing a pleasing resurrection, NIM is named after a local tree and is a tribute to everything La Paz from the fresh fish to the Mexican wines. Interestingly, Kiewek says her local customers favor her imaginative beef entrees and the reasonable prices geared to locals, not tourists.

“Here (unlike in the states), you can open a restaurant without blowing your savings,” said Kiewek, explaining why she moved to La Paz from the states. “And the quality of life in La Paz is tops… I love to swim in open water and go to the beach… all you need are goggles and a swimsuit.”

Jet-set paradise

Not far from the heart of town is CostaBaja Resort, part of a 550-acre development poised on the Sea of Cortez and overlooking an exclusive-feeling marina and stretch of protected beach and coastal lands. The resort that is ten minutes from the downtown area is largely responsible for the jet-set image that has recently become attached to La Paz. A planned residential community that offers a pleasing combination of desert and ocean, CostaBaja offers Mexico’s only Gary Player-designed golf course with hilltop vistas, a chic hotel, private beach club, three pools, villas, condos and a serene 250-slip, double-basin marina that often sports impressive mega yachts. The hotel, the first five-star resort in the city, has 115 sophisticated guest rooms, a high-end restaurant and the stress-melting Espiritu Spa.

More than $10 million has been invested in the resort in recent years with improvements including a new spa, known for its “rituals” that integrate ancient herbs, chakra balancing and attention to the nervous system. A remodeled lobby has a “cruise ship” feel with glass panels open to the sea and Steinbeck’s restaurant were also part of the reinvention of luxury.

CostaBaja offers two restaurants within the resort, the more casual Mosaic and the popular Steinbeck’s. Three more restaurants line the Marina CostaBaja steps away. Steinbeck’s, named after the author whom purportedly penned a novel here, has the largest private tequila collection in the country and impressive fresh fish specialties and Mesquite grilled entrees. Dine on the patio with gentle sea breezes and glimpses of the yachting life.

Follow “Going My Way” on Twitter @KathyStrong2.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Border Crossing Bridge for Tijuana Airport to Open in December...

By Sandra Dibble | SDUT -The great majority of cross-border travelers who use Tijuana’s A.L. Rodríguez International Airport are Mexicans — and U.S. Latinos with ties to Mexico. Now, developers of a new privately operated cross-border bridge connecting directly to the Mexican terminal hope the project will broaden U.S. interest in flying out of Tijuana to destinations across Mexico.

The vision is that Americans with concerns about driving into Tijuana, or wary of long northbound border waits on their return to the United States, will book flights at Rodríguez airport.

“There’s a huge opportunity for those U.S. nationals to travel within Mexico,” said Enrique Valle, chief executive of Otay Tijuana Ventures, builder and operator of the future Cross Border Xpress. “This is something that the Tijuana airport is not exploiting a lot.”

Of some 4.7 million passengers using the Tijuana airport last year, about 60 percent were traveling to or from southern California. The idea is that by paying the toll to use the bridge, travelers could save time and avoid congestion at the nearby Otay Mesa and San Ysidro ports of entry.

The project’s developers estimate that about half of those who cross would use the bridge, between 1.5 million and 1.8 million passengers during its first year of operation. While looking to the established market to make up the bulk of users, they are counting on the bridge to bring new travelers to the airport, which offers direct flights to more than 30 Mexican destinations.

The plan has been criticized by some in Tijuana as bringing little benefits to the city, but Valle said the measure could help boost tourism. The rules will allow travelers to cross the border 24 hours prior to their flight, giving them a chance to stop for lunch in Tijuana before takeoff, or schedule meetings and medical appointments, Valle said.

Among those endorsing the project last week were Malin Burnham, the San Diego real estate developer who is co-chair of the Smart Border Coalition, a San Diego-Tijuana group whose members lobby for more efficient border crossings.

“This will get a lot more people willing to fly out of Tijuana than would ever think of it before,” Burnham said at the conclusion of a tour of the construction site for coalition members on Thursday.

The investors behind Otay Tijuana Venture include Chicago real estate magnate Sam Zell and three Mexican partners connected to Grupo Aeroportuario del Pacifico, which operates the Tijuana airport.

The $120 million Cross Border Xpress project is a privately operated, for-profit facility that is unlike any other port of entry on the U.S. border. Only ticketed airline travelers will be able to use the 390-foot pedestrian bridge that spans the U.S. fence across from the Tijuana airport. Valle said its opening is scheduled for December, with tolls in the range of $13 to $17 each way.

The project includes a facility on the U.S. side where passengers would enter and exit the bridge, and allow them to get dropped off or picked up through public or private transportation.

Designed by the late Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta, famous for his use of colors, the facility will house U.S. customs and immigration inspection facilities, as well as a sit-down restaurant, a sports bar, a VIP lounge, a coffee shop and a duty-free shop. There will be close to 900 parking spaces available to the public, as well as spaces for local and intercity buses, as well as taxis and Uber vehicles, Valle said.

For travelers such as Doris Aguilar, a 30-year-old public registry official from Mazatlan beginning a week-long stay in San Diego, it won’t be a moment too soon. On Thursday afternoon, she and her sister, pulling large suitcases as they walked into San Diego, said they’d waited for close to two hours in the pedestrian line at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry — more time than it took them to fly from Mazatlan to Tijuana.

“I would pay to avoid waiting in line, definitely,” Aguilar said, as she waited for the four remaining members of her family to make it across. “It’s so hot, so uncomfortable, to be waiting in the sun, wondering if we’re moving forward or not.”

The project, years in the planning, evolved from an idea first floated in the early 1990s to create a binational airport at Otay Mesa to replace Lindbergh Field. The “Twinports” project entailed the construction of a runway north of the border parallel to the existing one at the Tijuana airport.

The plan was championed by Ron Roberts, then a member of the San Diego City Council and now a San Diego County supervisor, and won high-level support in the United States and Mexico, but also powerful detractors.

“The process was so long and there wasn’t enough buy-in at the top levels,” said Steve Castaneda, a former Chula Vista City Council member and transportation consultant who wrote a study about the Twinports proposal. “It just lost steam and didn’t go anywhere.”

The Twinports discussions gave birth to a different idea: Ralph Nieders, a San Diego businessman with connections in Mexico, was the first to propose a cross-border terminal, Castaneda said. The South County Economic Development Council commissioned a study of the proposal, which “proved that it was feasible,” Castaneda said.

With the new cross-border connection, “people will have a lot more access to Mexico and Latin America than they’ve ever had before,” Castaneda said. “I think it’s long overdue.”

The project has been generating much interest in the surrounding South County area, said Cindy Gompper-Graves, CEO of the South County EDC. The building “will be one of those identifiers of the region,” she said. “I think it’s going to be an iconic structure.”

She said the project has been raising hopes among Otay Mesa property owners of bringing hotels, restaurants and other businesses to the area.

Leading Thursday’s tour for the Smart Border Coalition members was Harry Nuño, the project’s development director. The hope, he said, is that the facility will not only serve travelers, but workers and residents from the surrounding Otay Mesa area who want to stop by for a meal or a drink.

“We want this place to come alive, not only for us, but for the whole community,” he said.

Staff researcher Merrie Monteagudo contributed to this report. • (619) 293-1716 • Twitter: @sandradibble

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Utah woman missing in Los Cabos...

CABO SAN LUCAS, BAJA CALIFORNIA SUR – A Utah mom has gone missing after telling her daughter she had allegedly escaped from a man she says held against her will for three days without food or communication.

According to Sandy Trevino’s daughter, Jesenia, her mom was last seen with a man whom Sandy was familiar with and she last spoke with her mom on Friday, July 31, 2015 who had just told her she had been kidnapped.

Jesenia said her mom told her on August 1, she was headed home, but that was the last time they heard from her. “My mom wouldn’t go without calling, texting, or checking her Facebook for her grand kids,” said Jesenia.

According to the GoFundMe page, Jesenia’s sister, Jacqueline, and her husband, have made a trip to Mexico to look for her and spread missing persons flyers. Sandy is described as 5′ 2″, long black hair and has a butterfly tattoo on her hip.

She was in her Maroon colored 2002 GMC Sierra truck with Utah plate 834WEF.

West Valley Police spokesperson Roxeanne Vainuku said they did take an initial report by her family that Sandy Trevino was missing. “The investigation is open and has also been refereed to the FBI for assistance in determining her whereabouts,” said Vainuku.

If anyone has any information as to her whereabouts the family is asking you to call the West Valley Police at 801-840-4000. If you are in the Los Cabos area call the Tourist Police at (624) 143-3977 or the local police at 060.

Investigation by Noticabos
Sandy Trevino was seen in Cabo San Lucas at a street address on Narcizo Mendoza, near the corner of Revolution street in Colonia Juarez. There are a few rooms for rent there with the Cesena Manriquez family (a corridor, next to a laundromat called "La Burbuja" near a veterinarian, and across the street from the parking lot for the restaurant Las Tres Islas). She has or had a full sized pick up truck, a 2002 GMC Sierra, maroon in color, with Utah plates 834 WEF.

The woman was seen trying to sell her furniture to leave Los Cabos and return to Utah, as had separated from her partner, she said a witness in the area. However, she was seen walking around the area and in her vehicle, an indication that she was not being held against her will, much less kidnapped.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Free tacos every time Donald Trump says ‘Mexico'

If you weren't planning on watching the Republican debates tonight, perhaps this will convince you to reconsider. Food delivery startup Eat24 is launching a very special debate night promotion: every time Donald Trump says “Mexico,” you get a free taco.

That is, every time he says “Mexico,” Eat24 will post a $5 coupon code to Twitter, enough to cover the cost of a taco, or, you know, any other food item under $5. “We believe in freedom of the belly, so it’s totally up to you,” the company wrote in a blog post, which is essentially a backhanded jab at Trump’s now infamous comments about Mexican immigrants.

Democracy has never sounded so delicious.

El Niño - How soon and how much???

San Diego / Ensenada - What is certain is that this is an "El Niño" year. There is consensus that this is a severe meteorological phenomena with some scientists insisting that this might perhaps be the most intense in history.

The intensity with which it reaches the region should be better defined in the next few weeks, in August and if the force is confirmed, the first rains should arrive in California and Baja California just a few weeks later in the month, with a high probability to remain until at least March or April.

The spokesman of the US Weather Service, Maureen O'Leary said that the coming El Niño is shaping up to have the intensity of previous events between 1997 and 1998, "but may be higher."

On both sides of the border, preventive measures are being taken. In 1997, "El Niño" was until then the most intense and claimed 189 lives in the United States, 17 in California. Economic losses exceeded four billion dollars, 500 million in California.

Some signs that scientists attribute to the formation of "El Niño" include hurricane Dolores earlier this summer, flooding streets in Calexico and millions of prawns that have covered beaches on both sides of the border, a fire that destroyed a section of highway along with 20 cars in California, just moments after the fire ignited more than a hundred hectares some distance away.

These are some examples seen locally but "the presence of much warmer water covers from Baja California to Alaska," according to the Marine Mammal Center.

There are difficult forecasts ahead. After the storm Dolores passed, Bill Patzert, a meteorologist at NASA, said "Look at all the damage a couple of inches of rain caused in Southern California in the last couple of days. Can you imagine 30 inches?" Patzert asked.

The storm also served as a gauge of things to come to the director of Civil Protection in Baja California, Antonio Donuts. "If El Niño raises the chance of rain, then we have to work harder to prepare our cities to face the rain."

What happened with the storm Dolores, mainly in Tijuana, was that the rain swept all the accumulated dirt and debris that was on the streets and blocked the drains, said the director.

Plans are being developed now, particularly in Imperial Beach, Tijuana, Rosarito and Ensenada for their coastal locations, but also for Tecate for its hilly location and for Mexicali.

But facing tough odds, there are other positive aspects, particularly the prospect of strong and persistent rains through next spring.

"We have to see the rain as something positive, it is necessary to rebuild the water tables and to recharge the reservoirs, but we must also be concerned to protect our cities.

That also become evident with Dolores. The streets in Tijuana, Otay and San Ysidro, all lacking lacking natural drainage and flood channels showed very strong rain absorption capacity after the prolonged drought.

One expert, Mike Halpart ensures that rain will come to Southern California even to the San Francisco Bay area. His jurisdiction with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) only covers the Southern California area and he declined to mention conditions for Baja California, but the models are the same for San Diego to the coast of Baja California.

"El Niño" is formed with increasing seawater temperature in the Pacific north from Ecuador. This warming causes a subtropical weatherband to move north from Central America to this region and generates a lot of rain.

The phenomenon was named by South American fishermen who noticed the increased water temperatures some years around the Christmas season and then began to refer to it as there comes "El Niño (Child of God)."

This time, until last week the NOAA forecast was a 90 percent chance that "El Niño" would arrive in the coming months and an 80 percent chance of it remaining until spring of 2016.

Scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla agree that "El Niño" will bring heavy rains and could alleviate the drought that the border region of the Californias has expereinced but only partially, as the region has so far accumulated a rain deficit of 26 inches.

In San Diego and Southern California, preventive measures will be announced through government institutions such as the Federal Emergency Response Administration (FEMA) and the Governor's Emergency Office for the state of California.

San Diego County has a mobile app in English and Spanish which can be downloaded at

Director Rosquillas explains that overall the rains can be quite dangerous when they accumulate like this in Baja California.

"Once the rains begin; say five, six or seven days more or less of continuous rainfall, on already saturated ground and then comes another heavy rain, there is where we have problems indeed," he said.

He said now there are measures the general population can take, "cleaning patios, not throwing trash into the canyon areas and clean them along with the glens, river beds and storm drains; the community needs to help by by not littering".

It is very important, said the director Rosquillas, that each home in Baja California have a plan for dealing with the heavy rain. "And this can be separated into three classifications: those living directly in flood-prone and fast flowing flood areas, those living in areas prone to landslides, mudslides, landslides areas; and the rest of the general population."

Up until press time late in July, there was still no firm date forecast for the arrival of El Niño. Some predict that if indeed it will be a strong El Niño storm season as predicted, significant rainfall can expected as early as August. Otherwise, rains should begin to fall starting in September.

Latest Fad: Star Wars Graffiti in Mexico City...


A Mexican graffiti project known as Street Art Chilango, known for digitally mapping art across the capital, is promoting an initiative to tag street walls and signs with art inspired by the Star Wars franchise.

The project started on May 4, or Star Wars Day, and has since spread throughout the capital with images of ewoks, Darth Vader, and Luke Skywalker suddenly appearing on buildings across the city. Led by graffiti artist Jenaro de Rosenzweig, the project pays homage to the enduring international popularity of the Star Wars series.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Whale Whisperers

Whale Whisperers
by Anuar Patjane

Image in Higher Resolution

The winners of the prestigious National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest were announced this week, with images depicting incredible wildlife, exotic beaches, vibrant deserts and more.

Winner of the grand prize this year, Anuar Patjane Floriuk, took his photo while diving with humpback whales around Roca Partida in the Revillagigedo Islands in Mexico.

The awe-inspiring image captures the sheer size of the ocean and the whale, one of its most beautiful creatures.

Surrounding it, tiny divers pale in comparison and help put our place on earth in perspective.

“This is an outstanding and unique place full of pelagic life,” said the winner.

“So we need to accelerate the incorporation of the islands into UNESCO as [a] natural heritage site in order to increase the protection of the islands against the prevailing illegal fishing corporations and big-game fishing.”

Floriuk won an eight-day National Geographic photo expedition to Costa Rica and the Panama Canal to help fulfil his potential.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

The Gulf of California’s Secret World

Brown pelicans can dive from heights of one hundred feet to scoop their prey from the surface waters. (Photograph by Johnny Friday)

The eight hundred mile Mexican peninsula of Baja California is one of the most forbidding deserts on Earth. But just to the east, the water separating it from mainland Mexico teems with life and is an ancient hotbed of geologic activity. Join Nat Geo WILD as we explore one of the world’s youngest and most dynamic seas.

The Gulf of California, also known as the Sea of Cortez, was formed approximately seven million years ago when tectonic forces tore the Baja peninsula from mainland Mexico. The ocean quickly rushed north to fill in the land that had fallen below sea level, creating the Gulf.

Since then, the Gulf of California has hosted an astounding diversity of aquatic life, from the Magnificent Frigatebirds in its mangrove forests to the California sea lions, humpback whales, bottlenose and common dolphins, and giant manta rays in its open waters. But all are dwarfed by the whale shark, the largest fish in the ocean at over 40,000 pounds and thirty feet in length.

In the sunny surface waters of the Gulf, warm water rises and is forced southward by winds sweeping off the mainland, with cool water from the depths rushing upward to fill the void. This cold water pulled up from the bottom of the gulf powers a phenomenon known as upwelling, bringing nutrients with it that feed microscopic phytoplankton (such as algae) and zooplankton (tiny shrimp-like animals), in turn feeding fish and allowing animal communities to thrive.

Sea turtles have heritage reaching back 210 million years to their first appearance in the ancient oceans. These magnificent elders can swim up to 10,000 miles each year. (Photograph by Johnny Friday)
Making their first appearance 210 million years ago during the dinosaur-dominated Triassic, turtles are some of the most ancient species still on Earth. Five of the world’s eight species of sea turtles make their home in the Gulf of California: loggerheads, leatherbacks, green sea turtles, olive ridleys, and hawksbills. Conservation efforts have helped these threatened species to make a comeback in recent decades, but the future of these quietly majestic creatures is still uncertain.

Another ancient silhouette stalks these waters: great white sharks, at the top of this food chain, have terrorized the seas for nearly four hundred million years. But even the fiercest sharks have a thorn in their side: for hammerheads, parasite infestations can bring endless misery, with the only relief coming from angelfish and hogfish that come by to clean—really, to eat—up the little critters.

Schools of scalloped hammerhead sharks patrol the Gulf of California. (Photograph by Johnny Friday)
This amazing biodiversity extends past the sheltered waters of the Sea of Cortez. Outside, along the western coast of Baja California, gray whales come to give birth in shallow, salty lagoons where their young will be protected from passing orca whales. Along the west coast, from Alaska to Baja, ocean currents are once again the driving force behind the life that fills these waters. The California Current, a rush of cold water from the arctic, surges down the west coast with nutrient-packed waters that aid the growth of miraculous undersea kelp forests. In these now-rare communities, thousands of different fishes, anemones, jellyfish, squid, and plankton hide in the enormous forests of algae, which reaches heights of 150 feet.

Each plant and animal, no matter how small, has a vital role in this complex undersea ecosystem. Meet them all and discover the threads linking every life in this thriving marine world.