Baja's most famous whale, the famed Gray Whale was named by John Gray who had studied whale remains found in Europe. The Gray Whale was originally named the Devil Fish.
These docile giants live up to 60 years, weigh 36 tons and grow to roughly 52 feet (116 meters). By the 17th century they were thought to have become extinct. Though the numbers have rebounded they are still at risk.
The Gray Whale of Laguna de Ojo Liebre start their yearly migration from the north and travel between 8,000-11,000 kilometers in the fall. By the time they arrive in Baja the Gray Whale has traveled 2-3 months at a speed of about 5 kilometers per hour. When they arrive in Baja, Mexico they breed and bear their young.
The Baja Whale Shark is the largest living fish known to exist. The species is thought to be about 60 million years old. Though of enormous size, it is extremely docile and allows friendly visitors to swim next to them.
The fish weighs around 20 tons and can grow to about 40 feet. It is a very slow mover and travels about 3 mph, but it is reputed to live more than 100 years. They can be seen in Bahia de Los Angeles during the warmer months.
Five of the seven known species of sea turtles make Baja their home.
The Olive Ridley Sea turtle is the smallest and most common of all sea turtles in Baja. They average under 50 kg (110 lbs) with a shell length of about 25 to 27 inches at maturity. They are mostly seen in southern Baja and are classified as a threatened species.
The Hawksbill is found worldwide and is famous for being on Venezuelan and Brazilian currency. It has been on the endangered species list since 1970. The Hawksbill derives it's name from its unique beak shaped mouth. They weigh around 80 kg (176 lbs) at adulthood.
Bottle nose Dolphin
The Bottle nose Dolphin is one of the Sea of Cortez's most prolific species of dolphin. They are often seen on a daily basis in pod sizes from 10-250 at a time. They grow from up to 4 meters and can get up to 650 kg (1430 lbs). They live up to 40 years and have been known to rescue sailors and swimmers in danger.
The Common dolphin comes in two varieties: the short-beaked and the long beaked. They reach maturity at about 3 to 4 years and can grow to lengths of 8 1/2 feet in length. The common dolphin can weigh up to 137 kg (300 lbs). The Long-Beaked Common dolphin prefers the coastal waters and can often be seen bow-riding a boat's wake. They have been known to live 30 years and swim at a speed of 24 kmh.
Found on the craggy coast of Baja these lovable creatures are quite intelligent. The males grow to as large as 400 kg (880 lbs) while the females are somewhat smaller. They are presently increasing their population growth rate at about 5% per year. If you go to the offshore islands or remote coast of the Baja peninsula you'll probably encounter quite a few.
Heard more than seen, the coyote is known for its singing howl in the desert. They usually travel in pairs and can occasionally be seen in the desert during the day. The average coyote can run up to 69 kmh (43 mph) and grow up to 20 kg (45 lbs). The coyote in Baja California can live up to 10 years. The desert coyote is brighter in color than its northern neighbor. In Baja the coyote is thought to have magical powers.
Adapted for the desert, these muscular ruminants are found in the desert mountains of Baja. Due to their sharp eyesight and mountain climbing ability they often see you before you see them. Rams gain control by charging head on to each other at distances of 20 feet and smashing their well-developed horns against the other's until one gives up. This has been observed to occur for longer than 24 hours. They can live up to 15 years. In the wild horn size is a status symbol.
Loggerhead sea turtles can live beyond 50 years and weigh as much as 364 kg (800lbs). At certain times they can be seen at the Sea Turtle Reserve Station in Bahia de los Angeles in Baja, Mexico. Unlike other species of sea turtle, they mate along migration routes. They also are listed as threatened.
The Leatherback is the world's fourth largest reptile. It can weigh up to 700 kg (1540 lbs). The Leatherback is famous for being the world's deepst diver, the world's fastest reptile and the sea turtle with the widest range of distribution. The Leatherback is currently also on the endangered species list.
Green Sea Turtle
The Green Sea Turtle, once very common, is also endangered. They grow to about 5 feet and about 200 kg (440 lbs). They are often found feeding on sea grass and spend time on beaches warming their shells in the sun. They derive their name not from their shell color, but the pigmentation of their fat.
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” - Marcel Proust