Ojo de Liebre Lagoon

Ojo de Liebre Lagoon (formerly known as Scammon's Lagoon[2]), translated into English as "hare eye lagoon", is a coastal lagoon located in Mulegé Municipality near the town of Guerrero Negro in the northwestern Baja California Sur state of Mexico. It lies approximately halfway between the southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula and the U.S.-Mexico border, opening onto the Pacific Ocean.

The lagoon is within the Vizcaíno Biosphere Reserve UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is a Ramsar wetlands site. It also is the site of the biggest commercial saltworks plant in the world.[3] It is an important habitat for the reproduction and wintering of the gray whale and harbor seal, as well as other marine mammals including the California sea lion, northern elephant seal and blue whale. Four species of endangered marine turtles reproduce there. It is an important refuge for waterfowl in the winter.[4][5]

Encompassing both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a major salt plant, Laguna Ojo de Liebre embodies the diverse worlds of natural habitat and industrialization.[3]

Tourism, now closely controlled, was formerly a threat to the gray whales.[4]

Official nameLaguna Ojo de Liebre
Designated2 February 2004
Reference no.1339[1]
Laguna Ojo de Liebre, Mexico
Laguna Ojo de Liebre, Mexico. Rectangle at lower right is evaporation pond for salt plant.
Gray whale
Gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus) at Laguna Ojo de Liebre


El Vizcaíno Biosphere Reserve Landsat picture annotated
The lake and surroundings

Laguna Ojo de Liebre is a large, shallow salty watery habitat that is 9 kilometres (5.6 mi) wide, 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) long and from 5–12 metres (16–39 ft) in depth. Relatively deep channels cut through the lagoon between its broad intertidal flats.[6] The climate is dry and warm; the annual temperature ranges from 18 °C and 22 °C. Annual rainfall can vary from none to 200 mm. The lagoon is surrounded by coastal dunes ranging from 12–15 metres (39–49 ft) in height, which support an unstable community of vegetation, and sandy beaches, some of them with shoals.[3][7]


Geological studies indicated that Laguna Ojo de Liebre began as a pocket beach on the coastal plain of Baja California at a time when the ocean was some 12 meters lower than today's level. Tidal changes resulted in the formation of inlets and sediment from nearby river gradually built a barrier to form the lagoon.[3]

Salt works

Industrialization is leaving its mark on the lagoon and surrounding area. There is a rectangular evaporation pond for the harvesting of salt, some large salt flats, and other barriers and channels built to enclose and flood shallow brine pans on the eastern side of the lagoon (yellow-greenish in color in the picture at right ).[3][6]

The Ojo de Liebre lagoon has the biggest saltworks plant in the world – Exportada de Sal S.A. (ESSA). The company makes salt from seawater which is pumped into concentration ponds measuring 33,000 hectares. The salt plant creates an effluent called bittern (a liquor remaining after salt-boiling) that is discharged into the lagoon. In December 1997, 94 green turtles were found dead weeks after the company discharged bitterns into the lagoon. The bitterns were investigated for fluoride content and were found to contain over 100 mg per liter. ESSA had earlier claimed that the bitterns contained the same salts present as seawater, only more concentrated (20-fold). F- was found to be 60.5 times higher than F- in sea water. [8]


In December 1857, Charles Melville Scammon, in the brig Boston, accompanied by the schooner-tender Marin, under Lefft, first entered Laguna Ojo de Liebre to hunt the gray whales breeding there. They caught twenty.[9] Scammon returned to the lagoon the next winter (1858–59), this time with the bark Ocean Bird and the schooner-tenders A.M. Simpson and Kate, under Easton and Hale. He caught forty-seven cows, which produced 1,700 barrels (270 m3) of oil.[10] He was accompanied by six other vessels (five barks and one schooner), which obtained an additional 5,300 barrels (840 m3) of oil (about 150 whales). A high of eleven vessels visited the lagoon in the winter of 1859-60, but they obtained considerably less oil—4,970 barrels (790 m3) (c. 140 whales). Eight vessels (all sent by U.S. merchants, except one: the Russian brig Constantine, under Otto Wilhelm Lindholm) the next season got even less: a little over 3,300 barrels (520 m3) from about 90 whales. Only a few ships visited the lagoon the following three seasons—in the first season they obtained 1,900 barrels (300 m3); the second 1,200 barrels (190 m3); and in the third only about 250 barrels (40 m3). When the bark Louisa visited the lagoon in the winter of 1872-73 she only obtained 70 barrels (11 m3) of oil. It was abandoned after that.[9]

See also

  • Natural history of Baja California Sur
  • Ramsar sites in Mexico


  1. ^ "Laguna Ojo de Liebre". Ramsar Sites Information Service. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  2. ^ "Journey North Gray Whales". www.learner.org. Retrieved 2009-11-02.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Laguna Ojo de Liebre, Mexico : Image of the Day". earthobservatory.nasa.gov. Retrieved 2009-11-01.
  4. ^ a b "World Heritage Nomination - Reserva del Vizcaino (Mexico)" (PDF). PDF. WCMC/UCN. 1993. Retrieved 2009-11-01.
  5. ^ "Whale Sanctuary of El Vizcaino - UNESCO World Heritage Centre". whc.unesco.org. Retrieved 2009-11-01.
  6. ^ a b "Sedimentology and Oceanography of Coastal Lagoons in Baja California, Mexico — Geological Society of America Bulletin". gsabulletin.gsapubs.org. Retrieved 2009-11-01.
  7. ^ Fred B. Phleger, Clifford C. Ewing. "Protected Areas Programme - Whale Sanctuary of El Vizcaino". www.unep-wcmc.org. Archived from the original on 2008-10-12. Retrieved 2009-11-01.
  8. ^ Tovar, LR; Gutiérrez, ME; Cruz, G. "Fluoride content by ion chromatography using a suppressed conductivity detector and osmolality of bitterns discharged into the Pacific Ocean from a saltworks: feasible causal agents in the mortality of green turtles (Chelonia mydas) in the Ojo de Liebre lagoon, Baja California Sur, Mexico". Anal Sci. 18: 1003–7. doi:10.2116/analsci.18.1003. PMID 12243394.
  9. ^ a b Henderson, David A. (1972). Men & Whales at Scammon’s Lagoon. Los Angeles: Dawson’s Book Shop.
  10. ^ Scammon, Charles Melville, and David A. Henderson (1972). Journal aboard the bark Ocean Bird on a whaling voyage to Scammon’s Lagoon, winter of 1858-59. Los Angeles: Dawson’s Book Shop.

External links

Coordinates: 27°45′N 114°15′W / 27.750°N 114.250°W

Ojo de Liebre

Ojo de Liebre may refer to:

Laguna Ojo de Liebre, lagoon in northwestern Mexico

Another name for the Tempranillo variety of grape

Another name for the Albillo variety of grape

Pteria sterna

Pteria sterna, commonly known as the rainbow-lipped pearl oyster or the Pacific wing-oyster, is a species of marine bivalve mollusk in the family Pteriidae, the pearl oysters. This oyster can be found in shallow water along the tropical and subtropical Pacific coast of America, its range including Baja California, Mexico and northern Peru.


Whales are a widely distributed and diverse group of fully aquatic placental marine mammals. They are an informal grouping within the infraorder Cetacea, usually excluding dolphins and porpoises. Whales, dolphins and porpoises belong to the order Cetartiodactyla, which consists of even-toed ungulates. Their closest living relatives are the hippopotamuses, having diverged about 40 million years ago. The two parvorders of whales, baleen whales (Mysticeti) and toothed whales (Odontoceti), are thought to have split apart around 34 million years ago. Whales consist of eight extant families: Balaenopteridae (the rorquals), Balaenidae (right whales), Cetotheriidae (the pygmy right whale), Eschrichtiidae (the grey whale), Monodontidae (belugas and narwhals), Physeteridae (the sperm whale), Kogiidae (the dwarf and pygmy sperm whale), and Ziphiidae (the beaked whales).

Whales are creatures of the open ocean; they feed, mate, give birth, suckle and raise their young at sea. So extreme is their adaptation to life underwater that they are unable to survive on land. Whales range in size from the 2.6 metres (8.5 ft) and 135 kilograms (298 lb) dwarf sperm whale to the 29.9 metres (98 ft) and 190 metric tons (210 short tons) blue whale, which is the largest creature that has ever lived. The sperm whale is the largest toothed predator on earth. Several species exhibit sexual dimorphism, in that the females are larger than males. Baleen whales have no teeth; instead they have plates of baleen, a fringe-like structure used to expel water while retaining the krill and plankton which they feed on. They use their throat pleats to expand the mouth to take in huge gulps of water. Balaenids have heads that can make up 40% of their body mass to take in water. Toothed whales, on the other hand, have conical teeth adapted to catching fish or squid. Baleen whales have a well developed sense of "smell", whereas toothed whales have well-developed hearing − their hearing, that is adapted for both air and water, is so well developed that some can survive even if they are blind. Some species, such as sperm whales, are well adapted for diving to great depths to catch squid and other favoured prey.

Whales have evolved from land-living mammals. As such whales must breathe air regularly, although they can remain submerged under water for long periods of time. Some species such as the sperm whale are able to stay submerged for as much as 90 minutes. They have blowholes (modified nostrils) located on top of their heads, through which air is taken in and expelled. They are warm-blooded, and have a layer of fat, or blubber, under the skin. With streamlined fusiform bodies and two limbs that are modified into flippers, whales can travel at up to 20 knots, though they are not as flexible or agile as seals. Whales produce a great variety of vocalizations, notably the extended songs of the humpback whale. Although whales are widespread, most species prefer the colder waters of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, and migrate to the equator to give birth. Species such as humpbacks and blue whales are capable of travelling thousands of miles without feeding. Males typically mate with multiple females every year, but females only mate every two to three years. Calves are typically born in the spring and summer months and females bear all the responsibility for raising them. Mothers of some species fast and nurse their young for one to two years.

Once relentlessly hunted for their products, whales are now protected by international law. The North Atlantic right whales nearly became extinct in the twentieth century, with a population low of 450, and the North Pacific grey whale population is ranked Critically Endangered by the IUCN. Besides whaling, they also face threats from bycatch and marine pollution. The meat, blubber and baleen of whales have traditionally been used by indigenous peoples of the Arctic. Whales have been depicted in various cultures worldwide, notably by the Inuit and the coastal peoples of Vietnam and Ghana, who sometimes hold whale funerals. Whales occasionally feature in literature and film, as in the great white whale of Herman Melville's Moby Dick. Small whales, such as belugas, are sometimes kept in captivity and trained to perform tricks, but breeding success has been poor and the animals often die within a few months of capture. Whale watching has become a form of tourism around the world.

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