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Upper Gulf Biosphere Reserve

Sonora

A sanctuary for rare endemic species in danger of extinction such as the totoaba and the vaquita, the smallest cetacean on the planet, the Upper Gulf of California and Colorado River Delta Biosphere Reserve is a unique place with extraordinary biological richness.

The natural reserve covers the northern end of the Sea of Cortez and extends over the territory of the states of Sonora and Baja California. The area is made up of wide plains with a gentle slope, a very dry and warm climate, and low annual rainfall.

The Colorado River Delta, which no longer exists, descends from the United States and is the most important water system in northwestern Mexico.

Given the enormous variety of species that inhabit the area, it was declared a Natural Protected Area in 1993. The Upper Gulf of California and Colorado River Delta Biosphere Reserve has an area of 934,000 hectares (2,300,000 acres), of which more than 60% corresponds to the marine ecosystem where some 18 species of mammals and 149 types of coastal-marine fish live, including several endemic species.

In addition, 29 species of land mammals, 315 types of resident and migratory birds, and 358 varieties of plants distributed in different types of vegetation, of which at least 15 are endemic, were counted in the reserve. In addition, Mexican legislation provides special protection for 50 species native to the area that are at risk.

The area is monitored by UNESCO, which in 2005 included it in the list of Natural Heritage of Humanity along with the islands of the Gulf of California. But the decline in the vaquita population due to illegal trafficking of totoaba led UNESCO in 2019 to list the region as an Endangered World Heritage Site.

The Biosphere Reserve has a human population of around 78,000 inhabitants, distributed in small rural settlements and three urban centers: San Felipe, in the state of Baja California; Gulf of Santa Clara, and Puerto Peñasco, in the state of Sonora.

A sanctuary for rare endemic species in danger of extinction such as the totoaba and the vaquita, the smallest cetacean on the planet, the Upper Gulf of California and Colorado River Delta Biosphere Reserve is a unique place with extraordinary biological richness.

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The natural reserve covers the northern end of the Sea of Cortez and extends over the territory of the states of Sonora and Baja California. The area is made up of wide plains with a gentle slope, a very dry and warm climate, and low annual rainfall.

The Colorado River Delta, which no longer exists, descends from the United States and is the most important water system in northwestern Mexico.

Given the enormous variety of species that inhabit the area, it was declared a Natural Protected Area in 1993. The Upper Gulf of California and Colorado River Delta Biosphere Reserve has an area of 934,000 hectares (2,300,000 acres), of which more than 60% corresponds to the marine ecosystem where some 18 species of mammals and 149 types of coastal-marine fish live, including several endemic species.

In addition, 29 species of land mammals, 315 types of resident and migratory birds, and 358 varieties of plants distributed in different types of vegetation, of which at least 15 are endemic, were counted in the reserve. In addition, Mexican legislation provides special protection for 50 species native to the area that are at risk.

The area is monitored by UNESCO, which in 2005 included it in the list of Natural Heritage of Humanity along with the islands of the Gulf of California. But the decline in the vaquita population due to illegal trafficking of totoaba led UNESCO in 2019 to list the region as an Endangered World Heritage Site.

The Biosphere Reserve has a human population of around 78,000 inhabitants, distributed in small rural settlements and three urban centers: San Felipe, in the state of Baja California; Gulf of Santa Clara, and Puerto Peñasco, in the state of Sonora.

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