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The Community

Nestled between the steep Sierra de la Giganta Mountains and the Sea of Cortés—“where the mountains come to swim”—Loreto is a community of firsts: first settled more than 10,000 years ago by the Cochimi and Guaycura peoples, it was Baja’s first permanent Spanish settlement when Jesuit priest and explorer Juan Maria de Salvatierra established the Mision de Nuestra Señora de Loreto. Loreto then became the first capital of the Californias, a title it held until 1829, when a hurricane destroyed much of the city and the capital was moved south to La Paz.

Located in a thornscrub desert, Loreto receives little rainfall yet is surrounded by a rich mix of desert plants that include towering cardón cactus and white-barked palo blanco, in part due to hot and humid summers. The Bay of Loreto National Marine Park was designated in 1996 and, supported by the non-profit environmental organization Grupo Ecologist Antares, the federal Marine Park Authority manages the park, which includes the rugged islands of Coronados, Del Carmen, Danzante, Montserrat, and Santa Catalina. In 2005, the United Nations designated the full Sea of Cortés, including Loreto Bay, as a World Heritage Site. Marine species finding refuge in the bay include sea turtles, starfish, sea urchins, fan coral, killer whales, blue whales, dolphins, manta rays, and sea lions—as well as hundreds of fish and bird species that use the area’s mangrove estuaries as hatcheries and rooks.


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