Gulf of California – World Heritage Site

The Gulf of California  was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 2005, with modifications added in 2007 and 2011. Considering it’s beauty and bounty, it is easy to see why this area received recognition. A brief description from their website gives an overview of why this wondrous area is protected:

Islands and Protected Areas of the Gulf of California

The site comprises 244 islands, islets and coastal areas that are located in the Gulf of California in north-eastern Mexico. The Sea of Cortez and its islands have been called a natural laboratory for the investigation of speciation. Moreover, almost all major oceanographic processes occurring in the planet’s oceans are present in the property, giving it extraordinary importance for study. The site is one of striking natural beauty in a dramatic setting formed by rugged islands with high cliffs and sandy beaches, which contrast with the brilliant reflection from the desert and the surrounding turquoise waters. It is home to 695 vascular plant species, more than in any marine and insular property on the World Heritage List. Equally exceptional is the number of fish species: 891, 90 of them endemic. The site, moreover, contains 39% of the world’s total number of species of marine mammals and a third of the world’s marine cetacean species.

Loreto Bay National Marine Park is one of the areas included in the World Heritage designation.  Efforts of local and government organizations focus on maintaining the seas bounty and wild beauty, and are supported by increasing awareness by organizations such as Eco-Alianza de Loreto.

For additional descriptions of the criteria for inclusion as a World Heritage Site – as well as expanded details on the areas themselves, here is alink to the site:

MAP supplement information Islands and Protected Areas of the Gulf of California2011.jpg

A “One Tide” Day

Tide Chart : Loreto, BCS : 23 October 2012

A one tide day? With the low tide last evening before midnight, and the subsequent low tide tomorrow at 12:07am, Loreto will on this day, have only one tide.

How is that possible?

As I’m not an expert on tides, I sourced Oceana, in an attempt to understand this conundrum.

Tides are regular rises and falls in sea level, accompanied by horizontal flows of water, that are caused by gravitational interactions between the Moon, Sun, and Earth. They occur all over the world’s oceans but are most noticeable near coasts. The basic daily pattern of high and low tides is caused by the Moon’s influence on Earth. Variations in the range between high and low tides over a monthly cycle are caused by the combined influence of the Sun and Moon.

Okay – That part is simple. Digging deeper :

High and Low Tides
Although the Moon is usually thought of as orbiting Earth, in fact both bodies orbit around a common center of mass—a point located inside Earth. As Earth and the Moon move around this point, two forces are created at Earth’s surface: a gravitational pull toward the Moon, and an inertial or centrifugal force directed away from the Moon. These forces combine to produce two tidal bulges in Earth’s oceans: one toward the Moon, and the other away from it. As Earth spins on its axis, these bulges sweep over the planet’s surface, producing high and low tides. The cycle repeats every 24 hours 50 minutes (one lunar day) rather than every 24 hours (one solar day), because during each cycle, the Moon moves around a little in its orbit.

Tidal Patterns
If no continents existed and the Moon orbited in Earth’s equatorial plane, the sweeping of the tidal bulges over the oceans would produce two equal daily rises and falls in sea level (a semidiurnal tide) everywhere on Earth. In practice, landmasses interfere with the movement of the tidal bulges, and the Moon’s orbit tilts to the equatorial plane.

Consequently, many parts of the world experience tides that differ from the semi-diurnal pattern. A few have just one high and one low tide per day (called diurnal tides), and many experience high and low tides of unequal size (known as mixed semidiurnal tides). In addition, the tidal range, or difference in sea level between high and low water, varies considerably across the globe.

Monthly Tidal Cycle
In addition to the daily cycle of high and low tides, there is a second, monthly, cycle. In this case, the Sun and Moon combine to drive the cycle. As with the Moon, the interaction between Earth and the Sun causes tidal bulges in Earth’s oceans, though these are smaller than those caused by the Moon. Twice a month, at the times of new and full moon, the Sun, Moon, and Earth are aligned, and the two sets of tidal bulges reinforce each other. The result is spring tides—high tides that are exceptionally high and low tides that are exceptionally low. By contrast, at the times of first- and last-quarter moon, the effects of the Sun and Moon partly cancel out, bringing tides with a smaller range, called neaps.

Okay, neap tide. Alas, the moon is not at it’s last quarter, but “waxing gibbous,” or a moon that is “appears high in the east at sunset. It’s more than half-lighted, but less than full.”

A further web search takes me to discussions of distant places, such as the Gulf of Carpentaria in Australia, where one-tide-per-day are not uncommon – something to do with narrow opening of the bay and water trapped.

Tides, it turns out, are more complex than the simple pull of the moon. A final note from,

Now this special one-tide-a-day thing happens in other places, for exactly the same reason – places like the Gulf of Thailand, the Persian Gulf, the South China Sea and even the Gulf of Mexico. It just so happens that all these places are some of the very best places on Earth for catching fish. I wonder if the once-a-day tides makes the fish all confused, and easier to catch?

It did seem that extra Pangeros headed from the Loreto Marina this morning before sunrise. Maybe there is something to more fish and one tide?

All I really KNOW at this point, is that today, there is one tide – a high of 1.64′ will occur at 8:27 AM, followed by a low of 0.09′ tomorrow morning at 12:07 AM.

Beautiful Dreamer

Beautiful Dreamer

Sultry morning. Long slow paddle in mirror-like seas.

Undulating jellyfish lazily propel themselves along the surface of still water. “Common” Jellyfish (Aurelia aurita), these are the most familiar of the species. Four gonad rings – usually purplish/pink – are visible through the translucent body. In the blue-green sea this morning, they appear more golden in color. Short numerous tentacles hang from the margin of the bell. The large quantity makes me reconsider an early swim. While the sting from these is considered mild, a sting is a sting is a sting ….

Besides the undulating jellyfish, artic terns, blue-footed boobies, Elegant frigate birds, and long-necked cormorants populate the morning count. I find myself in such awe of my surroundings that I cannot lift my camera. Rather, when a group of pelicans approaches, their wingtips mere inches from the surface of the sea, I simply hold my breath, listening to squished sound of the air between the water and their bodies.

Farther up the coast, three sea turtles lift their heads in curiosity. My board and paddle are stealth-like compared to the noisy engines of the pangas. The largest of the three lingers on the surface watching me, and I paddle toward him. I find that turtles are relatively shy, and this one is no different. As I approach, he lowers his head and dives beneath the surface. I see his broad green body as he glides underneath the shadow cast by my board. His tips his head once, and our turtle-human eye contact is complete.

I paddle farther, thinking of the turtle and the conservation efforts across the globe by groups like Grupo Torugero, or in Loreto, Eco Alianza, whose missions are to protect the natural world and those species that have become endangered or nearly extinct. Funny, this role of mankind on the planet. We seem to constantly push ourselves – and this planet that we love – to the brink – one way or another, before we can become conscious enough of our actions to change and alter our course.