Gulf of California

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California, Gulf of,

or

Sea of Cortés,

arm of the Pacific Ocean, c.700 mi (1,130 km) long and 50 to 130 mi (80–209 km) wide, NW Mexico; separates Baja CaliforniaBaja California
or Lower California,
peninsula, c.760 mi (1,220 km) long and from 30 to 150 mi (48–241 km) wide, NW Mexico, separating the Gulf of California from the Pacific Ocean. The peninsula is divided at lat.
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 from the Mexican mainland. The gulf is part of a depression in the earth's surface that extends inland to the Coachella Valley, S Calif. The Imperial ValleyImperial Valley,
fertile region in the Colorado Desert, SE Calif., extending S into NW Mexico. Once part of the Gulf of California, most of the region is below sea level; its lowest point is −232 ft (−71 m) at the southern shore of the Salton Sea. Receiving only c.
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 and the Salton SeaSalton Sea
, saline lake, 370 sq mi (958 sq km), northern part of the Imperial Valley, SE Calif.; 232 ft (71 m) below sea level. Salton Sea was formed as the Colorado River delta grew across the Gulf of California, severing the river's northern part.
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, once part of the gulf, have been cut off from it by the growth of the ColoradoColorado
. 1 Great river of the SW United States, 1,450 mi (2,334 km) long, rising in the Rocky Mts. of N Colo., and flowing generally SW through Colo., Utah, Ariz., between Nev. and Ariz., and Ariz. and Calif.
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 River delta. The gulf deepens from north to south; its greatest depth is c.8,500 ft (2,590 m). The coastline is irregular, with numerous islands; Tiburon, inhabited by aboriginal tribes, is the largest. Storms and tidal currents hinder navigation in the gulf. Once a rich commercial and sport fishing ground, the gulf now suffers from overfishing. The region is a developing tourist center; La Paz, Guaymas, and Mazatlán are major cities. The area was first explored in 1538 by the Spaniard Francisco de UlloaUlloa, Francisco de
, d. c.1540, Spanish explorer in Mexico. Against the orders of Viceroy Antonio de Mendoza, Hernán Cortés sent Ulloa to explore the Gulf of California. In 1538–39 he sailed to the head of the gulf, thus proving that lower California was a peninsula.
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.

California, Gulf of

 

a gulf of the Pacific Ocean along the western coast of North America. It is separated from the ocean by the peninsula of Lower California and is in effect a semi-enclosed sea. Length, 1, 240 km; maximum width, 220 km; area, 177, 000 sq km; average depth, 818 m. Depths increase from the head (34 m) to the mouth (3, 292 m, the greatest depth of the gulf)- There are many islands, the largest of which are Tiburon and Angel de la Guarda. The climate is subtropical. Surface currents circulate counterclockwise. Winter temperatures vary from 15°C in the northwest to 21°C in the southeast, and in the summer they rise to 28°C. The salinity of the water is 35.1-35.5 parts per thousand in the north (near the mouth of the Colorado River), diminishing to 30 parts per thousand. Tides are irregular and occur twice daily (up to 2.9 m). Fish in the Gulf of California include tuna, flounder, mackerel, and sea bass. Accumulations of Ciliata infusoria cause tinting of the water in various shades of red. The principal port is Guaymas (Mexico).

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