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San Carlos Diving

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San Carlos dive guide

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San Carlos diving in the Sea of Cortez (Gulf of California) is simply a spectacular sight with a uniquely varied underwater ecosystem due to the big range of water temperatures.

The waters of the Sea of Cortez show distinct seasonal changes. Although sheltered from open-ocean turbulence by the Baja peninsula, the cold waters of the Pacific advance all the way to the northern end of the Gulf in winter. Average surface temperature for January is 63°F (17°C) at diving depth. By late May divers can expect warm temperatures that last until October. Midsummer water temperatures may soar to an incredible 90°F (32°C)!

This extreme range of water temperature creates a uniquely diverse underwater ecosystem. Over 800 species of fish and 400 species of shelled invertebrates inhabit San Carlos waters for at least part of the year. For divers, there is something different to experience at every season. In winter Gray whales can be seen off the coast while schooling hammerheads pass through in November and December.
There is plenty to see during shore dives. The sargassum supports an entire mini-ecosystem. When it dies off as the water temperature rises in the spring, there are still piles of boulders and rubble encrusted with red and purple coralline algae that house Christmas tree worms, anemones, green moray eels and Pacific octopus. Sandy patches are dotted with various species of sea hares, stars and cucumbers.

In contrast, summer brings pelagic dorado, skipjack and tuna, as well as an increase in the numbers of tropical reef species, including sea horses over 8 inches/20 cm tall. Visibility is generally better in the summer, averaging 70 feet/21 meters at offshore dive sites.

A very popular San Carlos dive site is San Pedro Island also known as Seal Island and is located near a deep underwater canyon where one of the largest sea lion colonies in the Gulf of California can be seen. Late spring and summer are the best times to interact with the newly born pups. The island is surrounded by deep water, so pelagics as well as the full complement of reef fish are plentiful, and visibility can be more than 100 feet/30 meters.

Last but not least, for experienced divers it's possible to dive the submarine USS H-1 which sunk on March 12, 1920. Locating the wreck is one of the great adventures in Baja diving.

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