November 26, 2004
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.
Topics: Environment, Isla Partida, Isla Espíritu Santo, Baja California Sur, Coastal islands of Alta and Baja California, Isla del Espiritu Santo, Espiritu Santo, Origin of the name California, Baja California peninsula, Gulf of California