Between Desert and Sea

The Californias

At first glance, Baja California appears dry, dusty and hostile to life. For months, in some places even for years, the country thirsts for rain. And yet, despite the extreme conditions, life has taken a grip and unfolds in miraculous ways.

Unlike in the barren desert landscapes on land, life is rich in the surrounding sea: massive plankton blooms erupt and provide anchovies, sardines and krill with food. Populations explode. They feed the large bird colonies of the pelicans, terns and gannets of the islands and attract the giants of the seas. Blue- and fin whales comb the sea, sperm whales dive at great depths for squid, huge dolphin schools plow through the water.

But how is it that plants and animals are struggling to survive on land, while the sea is full of life? The answer lies in the sea currents and the water temperature. The extent to which life in the sea depends on these currents becomes clear, when those currents fail. This occurs in the years of El Niño.

Cold, nutrient-rich deep water no longer comes to the surface and the plankton growth slows dramatically. As a result, food becomes scarce for fish and birds. However, the land is now blessed with plenty of rain, as the warm water masses evaporates faster and let clouds form. The country soon is carpeted with wild flowers.

Baja California is a region of extremes. Animals and plants must adapt to these opposites in order to survive the hard times. From the blue whale, the largest living creature that ever lived on earth, to the small desert flower. It shows how fragile and complex the web of life is. The countless migratory birds are just as impressive as thousands of gray whales that are found in the lagoons where they give birth to their young. Each year, they migrate from Arctic waters, where they find ideal food conditions in the summer, over eight thousand kilometers to the Baja peninsula of Mexico. There they spend the winter months before they make their way back to the north.

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The Wild Edge

Discover North America's wild coastal corridor--from the Baja Peninsula to the Beaufort Sea--just offshore along the Pacific Edge.

Baja California

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Florian spend years documenting the drama and beauty as well as the threats and challenges this magnificent coastal landscape faces.

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"Photography is not my job, it is my passion. It is a way of life that goes far beyond the brief moment of triggering the shutter..." - Florian Schulz

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