Cabo Pulmo

Cabo Pulmo

One of our friends and Shearwater Dealer, Luis Sanchez of Rango Extendido, was telling us about an exciting documentary he is currently involved with. The documentary, called "Treasures", consists of 13 episodes of 42 minutes each. These are to be flighted in National Mexican TV and through Netflix. In this series, 10 Mexican divers explore the Mexican coast for wrecks that range from the Spanish Conquest to WWII submarines. Some episodes go into details of successful reef rehabilitation and marine life conservation programs. This time Luis writes about the success story of Cabo Pulmo.

In this first blog, I will write about Cabo Pulmo; it is a very small town at the entrance of the Sea of Cortes in Mexico's Baja peninsula. It's the biggest coral reef in the northern part of America. It was granted National Park status in 1995 and declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2005. Jacques Cousteau nicknamed the Sea of Cortes "the world´s aquarium" because of the amount of life and great biodiversity he saw.

Unfortunately, large-scale fishing became very popular in Cabo Pulmo, which is located in the main entrance of this sea. Local people made a living out of fishing for many years, until they realized they had depleted most of the sea life without giving it any chance to recover.

One pioneering local family, the Castros, knew they had to figure out a different way to earn a living. They decided to stop fishing and to start attracting tourism into the bay. They hoped that by doing this they would allow recovery time for the sea life and in time Cabo Pulmo could become a premium tourist attraction that would help them to make a living out of it.

I have been diving Cabo Pulmo regularly since 1981 and I have witnessed huge progress in the last 10 years. Every year is much better than the previous one.

Scuba divers now come from all over the world. It is almost universally common to hear them say that Cabo Pulmo diving exceeded their expectations. Mexican divers go every year. There are now established limits on the time and number of divers allowed into the park at any given time is regulated in order to protect the area.


Six years ago developers had the intention of building a huge hotel complex only 50 km away from Cabo Pulmo. This complex, called Cabo Cortes, would have been even bigger than Cancun. The enormity of this complex and its sudden insertion into an otherwise pristine nature site would have posed a grave threat to Cabo Pulmo Park. Mexicans and people from around the world firmly opposed this project stating it would surely prove devastating to the park. Fortunately, then President Felipe Calderon denied approval of this project.

Cabo Pulmo has now become a prime diving zone brimming with life. One popular dive involves a tornado of schooling jacks -- an awesome sight. But there is so much more marine life to experience including whale sharks, orcas, tiger sharks, bull sharks, white tip sharks, silky sharks, humpback whales, mantas, flying mobula rays, turtles, barracudas, big groupers and snappers, frogfish, sea lions, and many other species, all in big quantities and sizes.

Because of the huge success of Cabo Pulmo the Mexican government and the locals are planning to increase the national park area as there are many more reefs in the nearby zone.

Many other local fishermen and locals in the Mexican coast witnessed this success story and now they are trying to replicate the process. Good things are happening in Mexico!





Written by Luis Sanchez

Luis is an Industrial Engineer that has been diving since 1977. He holds many instructor ratings from agencies like NSS-CDS, PADI, IANTD, TDI, DAN, and YMCA. He is an accomplished trimix rebreather diver and underwater photographer. He enjoys doing exploration dives in remote places around the planet.