Isla Espíritu Santo

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Isla Espíritu santo
Isla Espíritu Santo and Isla Partida (5378264191).jpg
Aerial view of Isla Espíritu Santo (right) and Isla Partida (left)
Isla Espíritu santo is located in Baja California Sur
Isla Espíritu santo
Isla Espíritu santo
LocationGulf of California
Coordinates24°28′17″N 110°19′57″W / 24.47139°N 110.33250°W / 24.47139; -110.33250Coordinates: 24°28′17″N 110°19′57″W / 24.47139°N 110.33250°W / 24.47139; -110.33250
Adjacent bodies of waterPacific Ocean
Area80.763 km2 (31.183 sq mi)
StateBaja California Sur
MunicipalityLa Paz

Isla Espíritu Santo is an island in the Gulf of California, off the Mexican state of Baja California Sur. It is separated from Isla Partida by a narrow canal.[1]

Together, the islands are part of La Paz Municipality and are both a short boat trip from La Paz on the Baja California Peninsula.

There was human presence of the island already about 9,000 years ago.


The beach on Espíritu Santo

The area is protected as part of the Área de Protección de Flora y Fauna - Islas del Golfo de California (APFF-IGC),[2] and is an important eco-tourism destination. It was declared part of a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1995.[3] Espíritu Santo is the only known habitat of the black jackrabbit.[4] The islands are both uninhabited. Ensenada Grande beach, on Isla Partida, was voted the most beautiful beach in Mexico by The Travel Magazine [5] and one of the top 12 beaches in the world. Sea kayaking is a popular activity around the island.

The surrounding reefs are home to parrotfish, angelfish,[6] trumpetfish, Moorish idols, and rainbow wrasse, while many other species pass nearby including sharks, rays, turtles, dolphins, and even whales. Birds include brown pelicans, great blue herons, snowy egrets, turkey vultures, and hummingbirds. A large sea lion colony resides on Los Islotes, off the north tip of the islands; snorkeling with the females and young is a highlight of many tours.[7]

Conservation-minded eco-adventurers were not the only ones attracted to the island, and by the 1990s the pressure on Isla Espiritu Santo was intense: a real estate developer wanted to create a resort casino on the island. Luckily Tim Means,[8] founder of Baja Expeditions, who since 1974 had been a leading conservationist based in La Paz, formed a coalition of activists who were able to purchase part of the island from the ejido that was selling it to the casino resort developer. One-third of the funds came from Mexican funders, another third from American funders via the Nature Conservancy, and the rest through an anonymous gift to the World Wildlife Fund. Their subsequent donation of Isla Espiritu Santo to the nation is commemorated by a famous sculpture of a dove on the boardwalk in La Paz.


Native American shell fish hook from California. Auckland Museum

Early Holocene pearl oyster circular fishhooks, dating to 8750–8500 cal BP, have been discovered on Espíritu Santo Island. They've been found in Covacha Babisuri rock shelter on the island. This is one of the earliest known examples of shell fishhooks in the world.[9]

"The pearl oyster fishhooks and some of the associated tools from Espíritu Santo Island, in the southern Gulf of California in Mexico, are similar to those found in Australia, along the Arabian Sea (Roth 1904, Allen 1996, Beech 2003, Méry et al. 2008), and in Valdivia (Meggers et al. 1965:147)."[9]

Similar fishhooks have also been reported from Cedros Island, also in Baja California.


Isla Espriritu Santo is located in the Sea of Cortez (Gulf of California), about 26 kilometres (16 mi) to its southern tip from the port city of La Paz, Mexico. Together with its sister island Isla Partida, the islands are a rock formation created by a series of violent earthquakes and volcanic activity. As such, volcanic ash and lava make up the majority of their geologic composition. With fairly straight high ridges and low valleys, the islands resemble a horizontal rainbow with earthy tones. Espiritu has a land area of 80.763 square kilometres (31.183 sq mi), and its highest elevation is 562 metres (1,844 ft). Partida has a land area of 15.495 kilometres (9.628 mi), and its highest elevation is 282 metres (925 ft) At its Northern edge, Espiritu is divided from Partida by a narrow strait. At certain times with the right tide, the strait is shallow enough to wade across. By itself, Espíritu is the twelfth largest island in Mexico. There are a number of smaller islets that accompany the two main islands, of which only four are named. They are Isla Lobos, Isla Ballena, Isla Gallo and Isla Gallina. The islands also contain a handful of beautiful white sandy beaches, complemented by pristine aquamarine waters and sheer bluffs.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Google Maps". Google Maps. Retrieved 2021-03-25.
  2. ^ Áreas de Protección de Flora y Fauna - Islas del Golfo de California Archived 2015-03-28 at the Wayback Machine, Government of Mexico (in Spanish)
  3. ^ UNESCO, Islas del Golfo de California Biosphere Reserve, UNESCO Biosphere Programme.
  4. ^ Romero Malpica, F.J. & Rangel Cordero, H. (2008). "Lepus insularis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2008: e.T11794A3308250. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2008.RLTS.T11794A3308250.en.
  5. ^ "Isla Espiritu Santo". Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 19 March 2011.
  6. ^ Goodson, Gar; Weisgerber, Phillip J. (1988). "Angelfishes". Fishes of the Pacific Coast. Stanford University Press. p. 92. ISBN 9780804713856. Retrieved 19 August 2016 – via Google Books.
  7. ^ "Baja Insider".
  8. ^ "Saving Espiritu Santo".
  9. ^ a b Fujita, Harumi (2014). "Early Holocene Pearl Oyster Circular Fishhooks and Ornaments on Espíritu Santo Island, Baja California Sur". Monographs of the Western North American Naturalist. 7 (1): 129–134. doi:10.3398/042.007.0113. ISSN 1545-0228.

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