Coral populates the waters throughout the Gulf of California, but Cabo Pulmo is the only place in the gulf with a reef structure. The reef’s location, at the southern end of the gulf, intensifies the biodiversity as species from the Pan-Pacific region, Californian region, and Indo-Pacific regions merge (CONANP – 11). The area encompassing Cabo Pulmo was first protected as a marine park in 1995, and eventually the area was protected by Ramsar, the International Convention for the Conservation and Responsible use of Wetlands, and UNESCO (CONANP – 11). Over 7,000 hectares are protected (CONANP – 12).
The complexity of the life-pattern on Pulmo Reef was even greater than at Cape San Lucas. Clinging to the coral, growing on it, burrowing into it, was a teeming fauna. Every piece of the soft material broken off skittered and pulsed with life—little crabs and worms and snails. One small piece of coral might conceal thirty or forty species, and the colors on the reef were electric. –John Steinbeck, The Log from the Sea of Cortez
The high diversity of coral is the most concentrated in the gulf along as well as the high diversity in fish species. Coral species include different species of cauliflower coral as well as some species that are listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species, including Psammocora stellata and Pavona gigantea. Threats include coral bleaching and threats from fish and star fish species (J. Cortés et. al.). Snorkeling and diving is a popular activity in the park and creates an economically viable option for those who live in and around the region (CONANP – 11). There are several species of marine birds as well as a colony of California Sea Lions. Migratory whales are present during certain times of the year and tours are available.