The Revillagigedo Archipelago, officially known as Revillagigedo Islands and locally as Islas Revillagigedo, is a group of four volcanic islands that are located in the Pacific Ocean, about 390 km (242 mi) to the south-west of the resort city of Cabo San Lucas, within the western part of the United Mexican States. Even though historically the archipelago belonged to the State of Colima, so the state would be establishing a penal colony, the islands nowadays are under Mexican federal property and jurisdiction.
Comprised of four main islands, Socorro, San Benedicto, Roca Partida, and Clarión, the Revillagigedo Archipelago boasts a remarkable and unique ecosystem that is regarded as one of the most significant biodiversity hotspots in the world.
These islands, renowned for their abundant marine life including whale sharks, manta rays, humpback whales, and various species of dolphins and seals, are also home to endemic species of birds, reptiles, and insects, rendering them a singular and valuable ecosystem.
Throughout their history, there are no clear indicators that are showing human presence up until the arrival of the Spanish colonial forces, where the Spanish captain Hernando de Grijalva and his crew discovered Socorro Island on 19 December 1533, and named it Santo Tomás, and nine days later they discovered Isla de los Inocentes, which nowadays is known as San Benedicto. Since then, the islands were used for fishing and hunting, and they have been also visited and rediscovered several times by other ships.
On 25 July 1861, the then Mexican President Benito Juárez signed a decree awarding territorial control over the four islands to the State of Colima, and as previously mentioned, the State of Colima planned on building an offshore penal colony, although these plans never saw the light of day.
Later, at the beginning of 20 century, several scientists started promoting the islands, and they slowly started getting much needed attention they deserve. Nowadays, one of the most famous attractions of the Revillagigedo Islands is the large aggregation of giant manta rays that gather in the waters around Socorro, and this site is considered to be one of the best places in the world to encounter these magnificent animals.
In 2016, the Mexican government established the Revillagigedo Archipelago National Park to elevate and protect the unique ecosystems and biodiversity of the islands, but despite its status, the Revillagigedo Islands still face several threats, including over fishing, plastic pollution, and climate change.
These threats can have a significant impact on the delicate ecosystems of the islands, and steps must be taken to protect and conserve these valuable habitats. Sadly, visiting the islands is not permitted, and the only option is to do one of the most amazing diving experiences a person can have, even though there is a naval station on Socorro and another small garrison on Clarión.
As the islands provide critical habitats for a range of wildlife and are of particular importance for seabirds, since 2016 they were listed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list, making them even more popular around the world. In conclusion, the Revillagigedo Islands are a unique and important part of the world’s biodiversity, where with their rich marine life and unique ecosystems, they provide a valuable resource for scientific research and offer a breathtaking experience for visitors.