A string of rocky islands stretch southward along the western edge of the long, narrow Gulf of California, which separates Baja from mainland Mexico. Pictured in this Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) image from June 7, 2002, are Isla Espiritu Santo (south) and Isla Partida (north), two islands located in the waters northeast of the city of La Paz, in southern Baja.
Isla Espiritu Santo is made up of alternating layers of lava and volcanic ash. On the smoother east coast, steep cliffs drop into the water. The western side of the island is toothed like a comb, with a series of rocky points separated by shallow bays. Thin, xeric vegetation gives the island its greenish color in the image, while bare ground appears pinkish-orange. Small mangrove swamps tucked into the west coast bays appear bright green. Beaches are composed of fine coralline sand. The California Gulf islands are subject to the region’s arid climate, and yet unique animals and plants do inhabit them. More than one island is home to a species of plant or animal found only on that island.
NASA image created from data provided the NASA/GSFC/MITI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan
ASTER Science Team
Located in the northern Gulf of California, Isla (island) San Lorenzo and Isla Las Animas—part of the Midriff Islands—record geologic processes involved in the creation of the Baja California peninsula over several hundred million years. This astronaut photograph illustrates the largely pristine nature of these islands. The islands are located in the rain shadow of mountains on the Baja Peninsula to the west, and arid conditions prevail through much of the year. The scarcity of water has limited human presence on the islands, and allowed flora and fauna unique to each island to flourish, particularly reptiles.
Located in the Bahia de los Angeles, Isla Coronado sits in the Gulf of California, just off the eastern shoreline of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula. The island is approximately 7 kilometers long, and it is dominated by Volcan Coronado on the northern end.