El Arco, at the tip of the peninsula in Cabo San Lucas, is an icon for the southernmost region of Baja. The end of the peninsula marks the area once inhabited by the Pericú aboriginals (CONANP – 8). The Europeans arrived in the 16th century, and then pirates used the point until the middle of the 18th century (local legend declares treasures still lay hidden in the rocks and caves at El Arco (CONANP – 8). By the early 20th century tuna was discovered off the coasts, a cannery was built, and a village sprang from the industry (CONANP – 8). In 1941, a hurricane hit the area, devastating everything and the village was unable to regain its stability until after WWII (CONANP – 8). The transpeninsula highway was paved in 1973, leading to an increase in the number of tourists. The president at the time understood the impacts of increased tourism on the environment, so he issued a degree to protect El Arco and the surrounding zone (CONANP – 7).
The great rocks on the end of the Peninsula are almost literary. They are a fitting Land’s End, standing against the sea, the end of a thousand miles of peninsula and mountains…The Friars stood high and protective against an interminable sea.—John Steinbeck, The Log from the Sea of Cortez
The terrestrial animals are mostly mammals and reptiles. Pumas, coyotes, and badgers are examples of predators, while the black-tailed jackrabbit (Lepus californicus) is often seen crossing highways and dirt roads. The desert iguana (Dipsosaurus dorsalis) and the zebra-tailed lizard (Callisaurus draconoides) blend into the sands on the roadside, but are easy to spot once the animal becomes familiar. The subtropical desert is characterized by low scrub, succulents, and cactus which provide food, housing, and hiding for animals. Birds thrive in the subtropical region. The crested caracara (Caracara cheriway) and the turkey vulture (Cathartes aura) are common outside the city while the white winged dove (Zenaida asiatica) and several coastal and marine birds such as the magnificent frigatebird (Fregata magnificens) and the double-crested cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) are more common in the seaside cities of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo.
The marine life is prevalent and the area is famous for sport fishing. The billfish include Atlantic blue marlin (Makaira nigricans), the striped marlin (Tetrapturus audax), swordfish (Xiphias gladius), and the sailfish (Istiophorus platypterus) while dorado (Coryphaena hippurus) and yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares) are also caught. The attractive roosterfish (Nematistius pectoralis) with seven long spines for a dorsal fin is also caught for sport from shore and boat. The large marine mammals pass through the area and whale sighting is a popular activity for tourists during certain times of the year.