Wild West: Restless Shores—Introduction (02:48)
In the far west of America lies a legendary land that was home to Native American civilizations, cowboys, the gold rush and natural wonders. Over millions of years, powerful forces forged some of the most dramatic landscapes on Earth. Ancient murals of marine animals cover the walls of a remote desert canyon. The waters of the West are an important part of life.
Sea of Cortez (03:41)
The Sea of Cortez is home to a myriad species and ecosystems, including giant blue whales. Every winter, over 300 blue whales arrive; many are nursing females with calves. Below the Sea of Cortez is a dark abyss that is home to alien creatures like the giant tube worm.
Prey and Predator (03:39)
Mobula rays perform aerial breaches in the Sea of Cortez, scientists are unsure what drives this behavior. Orcas hunt the rays in packs; rays can group into mega-shoals of hundreds of thousands.
Above and Below the Waves (05:25)
The Sea of Cortez is home to over 6,000 species of animal life. California sea lions hunt shoaling sardines. The swollen-nosed side-blotched lizard makes its home on the desolate rocky islands. At high, tide marine isopods invade the islands to feed on algae and provide prey for the lizards.
Breeding Habits (05:30)
Where the sea reaches furthest into the desert, the Colorado River spills silt and sediment into the ocean ecosystem. After very high tides, thousands of Gulf grunions beach themselves above the high water line to breed and lay eggs in the sand.
Fiddler Crabs (01:51)
As low tide exposes more than two kilometers of sand and mud, fiddler crabs come out of their burrows to attempt to mate before the tide flows back in.
Salton Sea (05:33)
The split in the Earth's crust that created the Sea of Cortez spreads further north into California. The Salton Sea lies directly over the San Andreas Fault and is an important source of water for birds in the area. See footage of the glory days of the Salton Sea tourist industry. The rising salt content of the Salton Sea has started to kill the fish and other animals in the lake.
San Andreas Fault (05:13)
The tear in the Earth's crust that created the Sea of Cortez and the Salton Sea leads to the San Andreas Fault. The fault line cuts through San Francisco to the Pacific Ocean. Northern elephant seals come to the beaches of California to breed and birth their young.
Kelp Forests (03:47)
The headlands of the California shore reach into the ocean creating upwellings of nutrients that foster the growth of kelp forests. A family of free divers harvest red abalone. The divers discuss the heritage of abalone diving.
Blankets of Fog (05:21)
Fog forms where warm, humid ocean air meets colder land based air currents and flows inland. The trees and the denizens of the coastal Redwood Forest depend on the moisture delivered by the fog; Boojum trees in the desert also depend on the fog.
Laguna San Ignacio (05:50)
Grey whales migrate 20,000 miles from the arctic to the waters of Laguna San Ignacio. Jesus Mayoral leads whale encounter tours and speaks about the gray whales. A group of whales are exceptional because they appear to seek contact with humans.
Credits: Restless Shores (00:36)
Credits: Restless Shores
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