The Desert Sea at UA-Biosphere 2

The Center for Latin American Studies is collaborating with the University of Arizona's Biosphere 2, Marine Biome

Our Desert Sea

The Sonoran Desert owes its biological and cultural diversity in no small part to its proximity to the rich waters of the Sea of Cortez, or Gulf of California, yet many southern Arizona residents and most visitors from afar have little notion of the tight connection between desert and sea. We are working on a visionary yet pragmatic transformation of the large 676,000 gallon B2 saltwater ocean into a “Desert Sea”--

Sea of Corteza living model of the Gulf of California--that will highlight the rich ecology, diverse human cultures, and conservation challenges that are concentrated in this unique sea.


Educational opportunities will accrue through enhanced visitor interpretation, new K-12 curriculum, and special programs built around the new exhibit. Research opportunities in marine ecology, biochemistry, climate change, ocean acidification, genomics, and conservation biology will also find rich ground in the new environment. The Desert Sea will additionally foster strong bi-national collaboration with scientists, conservationists, students, and educators in Mexico.

Our Vision

Ocean Vision

We are working on plans to transform the ocean to look like the Gulf of California.  New added features including rocky shorelines, a cactus studded island designed to mimic the Gulf’s midriff islands, and a sargassum forest in the deepest (21 foot) part of the ocean tank, will highlight some of the biologically richest habitats in the region. The Gulf is host to a rich array of hearty vertebrate and invertebrate animal species and algae that will be beautiful additions to our ocean tank.

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