Tiburón Island

Last updated
Tiburón Island
Native name:
Infiernillo Tiburon Island.JPG
View of Tiburón Island across Infiernillo Channel, south of Punta Chueca
Mexico - Tiburon Island.PNG
Mexico Baja California location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Tiburón Island
Mexico Sonora location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Tiburón Island
Mexico relief location map.jpg
Red pog.svg
Tiburón Island
EtymologySpanish word for shark
Location Gulf of California
Coordinates 28°59′20″N112°22′23″W / 28.98889°N 112.37306°W / 28.98889; -112.37306 Coordinates: 28°59′20″N112°22′23″W / 28.98889°N 112.37306°W / 28.98889; -112.37306
ArchipelagoIslas Grandés
Area1,201 km2 (464 sq mi)
Flag of Mexico.svg  Mexico
State Sonora
Languages Seri (formerly)
Ethnic groups Seri (formerly)
Additional information
Time zone

Tiburón Island is the largest island in the Gulf of California and the largest island in Mexico, with an area of 1,201 square kilometres (464 sq mi). [1] It was made a nature reserve in 1963 by President Adolfo López Mateos. [2]



Tiburón is Spanish for shark . Although the Seri name was first recorded by Alphonse Pinart in 1879, [3] its etymology is unknown.

View of the southern part of Tiburon Island from Bahia de Kino Isla Tiburon island.jpg
View of the southern part of Tiburón Island from Bahía de Kino


Tiburón Island is part of the state of Sonora, as well as the municipality of Hermosillo, and is located at approximately the same latitude as the city of Hermosillo. It is located along the eastern shore of the Gulf of California, opposite Isla Ángel de la Guarda. It is part of the chain of islands known as the Midriff Islands or Islas Grandes.


Tiburón Island is part of the traditional homeland of some bands (or clans) of the Seri people, probably for many centuries if not millennia. [4] During the 1960s and early 1970s, a small hunting and fishing camp on the northern end of the island was operated by Jesus Olivas, a resident of Hermosillo. He constructed several buildings, a dock and an airstrip near the historic Seri encampment at Tecomate. The camp was popular with American visitors to the area. The remains of the structures and airstrip are still in place (although the airstrip was rendered unusable by the Mexican military around 1995 in an attempt to keep it from being used by smugglers who were active in the area at the time). In 1975, the Mexican government, through a decree by President Echeverría, gave the Seri recognition and title of communal property ("reconocimiento y titulación de terrenos comunales") with respect to Tiburón Island. [2]

The island is uninhabited (except for Mexican military encampments on the eastern and southern shores of the island) and is administered as an ecological preserve by the Seri tribal government in conjunction with the federal government. Bighorn sheep were introduced to the island in the 1980s; hunting is managed by the tribal government in coordination with Mexican federal authorities. It is also home to a subspecies of coyote (Canis latrans jamesi) that is found nowhere but the island. [5]


The island can be reached from Punta Chueca, which is the nearest community inhabited by members of the Seri tribe, and from Bahía de Kino, a non-Seri community 34 kilometres (21 miles) to the south. The distance from Punta Chueca to Punta Tormenta, the nearest point on the island, is 3 kilometres (1.9 miles). The channel between the mainland and the island is called Canal del Infiernillo ("Tiny Hell's Channel"), because of the strong tidal currents and shoal water that occur there which can make navigation challenging. The island has a prominent mountain system of volcanic origin.

Early morning view of Hast Cacola on Tiburon Island from Socaaix (Punta Chueca) Hast Cacola desde Socaaix con pangas.jpg
Early morning view of Hast Cacöla on Tiburón Island from Socaaix (Punta Chueca)


Two permits are required for day hiking and overnight stays on the island: one from the Seri Governor's office in Punta Chueca and another from the ISLAS office in Bahía de Kino.

In 2012, a television episode of Survivorman Ten Days (Les Stroud) was filmed on Tiburón Island. Mermaids of Tiburon is a 1962 film about a diver looking for buried treasure who comes across mermaids.

See also


  1. Geography of island Archived 2007-08-17 at the Wayback Machine
  2. 1 2 Comisión de Desarrollo de la Tribu Seri. (1976) Tribus de Sonora: Los seris. Hermosillo, Sonora.
  3. Pinart, Alphonse. 1879. [Vocabulary of the Seri] Manuscript. Bureau of American Ethnology collection, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. [Locator number in the Smithsonian: NAA MS 1146 , where the name “D.A. Tenechio” [sic] is used, with A. Pinart as co-creator.] ms.
  4. Moser, Edward W. (1963) "Seri Bands". The Kiva 28.3:14–27. (online Spanish version)
  5. Bekoff, Marc. (1977) Mammalian Species, No. 79, Canis latrans (Jun. 15), pp. 1-9, https://www.jstor.org/stable/3503817

Related Research Articles

Sonora State of Mexico

Sonora, officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Sonora, is one of 32 states which comprise the Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided into 72 municipalities; the capital city is Hermosillo. Sonora is bordered by the states of Chihuahua to the east, Baja California to the northwest and Sinaloa to the south. To the north, it shares the U.S.–Mexico border primarily with the state of Arizona with a small length with New Mexico, and on the west has a significant share of the coastline of the Gulf of California.

Gulf of California A gulf of the Pacific Ocean between the Baja peninsula and the Mexican mainland

The Gulf of California is a marginal sea of the Pacific Ocean that separates the Baja California Peninsula from the Mexican mainland. It is bordered by the states of Baja California, Baja California Sur, Sonora, and Sinaloa with a coastline of approximately 4,000 km (2,500 mi). Rivers which flow into the Gulf of California include the Colorado, Fuerte, Mayo, Sinaloa, Sonora, and the Yaqui. The surface of the Gulf is about 160,000 km2 (62,000 sq mi). Depths range from near-zero at its fording at the estuary near Yuma, Arizona, to in excess of 3,000 meters (9,800 ft) due to the complex geology, linked to Plate Tectonics.

Hermosillo City in Sonora, Mexico

Hermosillo, formerly called Pitic, is a city located in the center of the northwestern Mexican state of Sonora. It is the capital and largest city as well as the main economic center for the state and the region. As of 2015, the city has a population of 812,229, making it the 16th largest city in Mexico. The recent city population increase is due to its recent strong industrialization, especially in the automotive industry.

Presidio Fort type

A presidio is a fortified base established by the Spanish in areas under their control or influence. The term is derived from the Latin word praesidium meaning protection or defense.

Puerto Peñasco City in Sonora, Mexico

Puerto Peñasco is a small city located in Puerto Peñasco Municipality in the northwest of the Mexican state of Sonora, 100 kilometres (62 mi) from the border with the U.S. state of Arizona. According to the 2015 census, it has a population of 62,177 inhabitants. It is located on the northern shores of the Sea of Cortez on the small strip of land that joins the Baja California Peninsula with the rest of Mexico. The area is part of the Altar Desert, one of the driest and hottest areas of the larger Sonoran Desert.

Eusebio Kino Italian Jesuit missionary

Eusebio Francisco Kino was an Italian Jesuit, missionary, geographer, explorer, cartographer and astronomer born in the Territory of the Bishopric of Trent, then part of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. For the last 24 years of his life he worked in the region then known as the Pimería Alta, modern-day Sonora in Mexico and southern Arizona in the United States. He explored the region and worked with the indigenous Native American population, including primarily the Tohono O'Odham, Sobaipuri and other Upper Piman groups. He proved that the Baja California Peninsula is not an island by leading an overland expedition there. By the time of his death he had established 24 missions and visitas.

Cedros Island Island in Baja California, Mexico

Cedros Island is an island in the Pacific Ocean belonging to the state of Baja California, Mexico. The dry and rocky island had a population of 1,350 in 2005 and has an area of 348 square kilometres (134 sq mi) which includes the area of several small nearby islands. Cedros Island is mountainous, reaching a maximum elevation of 1,205 metres (3,953 ft). The economy is based on commercial fishing and salt mining. Cedros has a distinctive flora and the traces of some of the earliest human beings in the New World. The ocean around the island is popular with sport fishermen.

Seri people ethnic group

The Seri are an indigenous group of the Mexican state of Sonora. The majority reside on the Seri communal property, in the towns of Punta Chueca and El Desemboque on the mainland coast of the Gulf of California. Tiburón Island (Tahejöc) and San Esteban Island were also part of their traditional territory. They were historically seminomadic hunter-gatherers who maintained an intimate relationship with both the sea and the land. They are one of the ethnic groups of Mexico that has most strongly maintained their language and culture throughout the years after contact with Spanish and Mexican cultures.

San Esteban Island island in Mexico

San Esteban Island is a small island in the Gulf of California, Mexico, located to the southwest of Tiburón Island. It is part of the Municipality of Hermosillo in Sonora, and has a land area of 39.773 km², the 15th-largest island in Mexico. It is located in the Gulf of California. It was once inhabited by a group of the Seri people.

Bahía Kino village in Sonora

Bahía de Kino is a town in the Mexican state of Sonora, Hermosillo (municipality), on the Sea of Cortez ; it was named after Eusebio Kino. The name also applies to the adjacent bay between Tiburón Island and Punta San Nicolás, Sonora. The names Bahía de Kino, Bahía Kino and Kino Bay are used interchangeably.

Isla Natividad island

Isla Natividad is an island in the Pacific Ocean 6 km west off Punta Eugenia, the northwestern headland of the Mexican state of Baja California Sur. 200 meters off its northwestern end lies Roca María at 27°53′33″N115°13′19″W, with an area of 0.074 km2. Isla Natividad is separated from the mainland at Punta Eugenia by Canal de Dewey, and from Cedros Island, which is 15 km to the north, by Canal de Keller.

El Desemboque is a town located 376 km from Hermosillo on the shore of Gulf of California in the Mexican state of Sonora; coordinates N 29° 30' 13", W 112° 23' 43". It is part of the Municipality of Pitiquito, and is one of two major villages on the Seri Indian communal property, the other being Punta Chueca. The Spanish name refers to the fact that the Río San Ignacio meets the sea near that point. The Seri name is literally where the clams lie. It has been a good location to find the small clams Protothaca grata (haxöl). According to the Mexican census of 2010, the town had a population of 287 inhabitants. (The town of El Desemboque described in the prior text is not located in the Pitiquito municipality of Sonora. It is a Seri village about 120 km north of Punta Chueca north of Bahia Kino where the dry Rio Ignacio meets the Gulf of California. The El Desemboque in Pitiquito is west of Caborca at the mouth of Rio Concepcion and is a small village catering to weekenders from Caborca. The Seri may have lived at the El Desemboque west of present-day Caborca in prehistoric times before Spanish arrived as well as the current Seri town north of Bahia Kino. Their oral history has them living as far north as present day Puerto Penasco which was also an O'Odham settlement as well as present-day Bahia Kino and Isla Tiburon .)

Punta Chueca is a Seri town located on the Gulf of California in the Mexican state of Sonora. It is located 25 kilometers north of the fishing and tourist town of Bahía de Kino. Both of these towns are part of the Municipality of Hermosillo. One of the two villages on the Seri Indian communal property, it has small stores, a primary school and a small satellite-fed secondary school (telesecundaria). It is one of the closest points on the mainland to Tiburón Island, separated from it by the Canal del Infiernillo. According to the Mexican census of 2010, the town, had a population of 520 inhabitants.

Tammukan is an alternate spelling of Tamcan, the name of a local tribe of Delta Yokuts-speaking natives in the U.S. that once lived on the lower reaches of California's San Joaquin River in what is now eastern Contra Costa County and western San Joaquin County, California. The Tamcans were absorbed into the system of the Spanish missions in California in the early nineteenth century; they moved to Mission San José, near the shore of San Francisco Bay, between 1806 and 1811. At the mission, they and their descendants intermarried with speakers of the San Francisco Bay Ohlone, Plains Miwok, and Patwin Indian languages. Mission Indian survivors of these mixed groups gathered at Alisal, near Pleasanton in Contra Costa County, in the late nineteenth century.

San Esteban chuckwalla species of reptile

The San Esteban chuckwalla, also known as the piebald chuckwalla or pinto chuckwalla, is a species of chuckwalla belonging to the family Iguanidae endemic to San Esteban Island in the Gulf of California. It is the largest of the five species of chuckwallas and the most endangered.

<i>Ctenosaura hemilopha</i> species of reptile

Ctenosaura hemilopha, also known as the cape spinytail iguana , is a species of spinytail iguana endemic to Baja California. It is arboreal and primarily herbivorous, although it can be an opportunistic carnivore. Males may grow up to 100 centimeters (39 in) in length, while females are smaller, with a length of up to 70 centimeters (28 in). Five subspecies are currently recognized.

Hermosillo Municipality Municipality in Sonora, Mexico

Hermosillo is a municipality in Sonora in north-western Mexico. The municipal seat is the city of Hermosillo.

Sea urchins of the Gulf of California

The sea urchins of the Gulf of California live between the coasts of the Baja California Peninsula to the west and mainland state of Sonora, Mexico to the east. The northern boundary is the lateral band of land with the remains of the Colorado River Delta, and the southern is the Pacific Ocean.

Mexican ironwood carvings

Mexican ironwood carving is a Mexican tradition of carving the wood of the Olneya tesota tree, a Sonora Desert tree commonly called ironwood.

San Pedro Mártir Island

San Pedro Mártir is the name of an island of Mexico, located in the Gulf of California, about halfway between the coast of Baja California and Sonora. San Pedro Mártir is located in the center of the Gulf of California and is the most remote island in the Sea of Cortez. It is located 51 km from Baja California and 53 km off the coast of Sonora. The island is 2 km long and 1.5 km maximum width, with a total of 2,729 km2 of total area. The island is uninhabited and is 60 km from Bahía Kino, the nearest city in the state of Sonora on the west coast.