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2013 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Americas

Red Bay Basque Whaling Station (Canada)
2013 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Americas
on October, 17 2013

Two World Heritage Sites in the Americas have been included in the 2013 list of 19 sites. One is an archaeological site duly recognized for its cultural value, located in Canada (North America). The other site, recognized for its natural characteristics, is found in Mexico (Central America).

Red Bay Basque Whaling Station (Canada)

The European whaling tradition is preserved in a 16th century archaeological site on the Strait of Belle Isle. “Gran Baya” was founded in 1530 by Basque mariners and was used during the summer season. It was at the very center of the whaling industry at that time and served as the base for hunting and rendering whale fat. This place on the northeastern tip of Canada was a major source of whale oil for Europeans. They used whale oil mainly for lighting lamps. This type of oil was a valuable commodity in Europe at that time, more so because it was also a raw material for making soap, varnishes, lubricants, and paints.

The remains of ovens, wharves and living quarters as well as vessels and whale bones can be seen at the site. There is also an old cemetery. This whaling station was manned by whalers from France and Spain. This site is considered to be the most well-preserved as well as the earliest known manifestation of European whaling practices. The whaling industry in the area led to the depletion of the local whale population on the shores of the Bay of Biscay.

El Pinacate and Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve (Mexico)

This site encompasses a stretch of land that measures almost 715, 000 hectares. This site is composed primarily of two features – the Pinacate (a dormant volcano) dominates a moon-like landscape of ancient lava flows to the east. Volcanic craters that are 400 years old are found here. Meanwhile, the shifting sand dunes of the Gran Altar Desert can be found to the west. This distinct landscape in Sonora, Mexico has made it to the 2013 heritage list primarily for its majestic and rugged beautiful natural features. The site is definitely of great interest and significance to science.

The El Pinacate and Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve or Sierra Del Pinacate is just south of the Arizona border with Mexico. The area is more for adventurers and scientists than tourists. This area is also a haven of biodiversity.

In addition to being a World Heritage Site it is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve also. This particular distinction is given to sites recognized under a separate UNESCO program known as “Man and the Biosphere Programme.” These sites are still under the jurisdiction of the sovereign nation, but they are also part of the Word Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR) composed of 117 countries around the world. A total of 621 biosphere reserves have been designated so far.

These two sites, though vastly different share the important distinction of having unparalleled importance to humanity. Now that they have been designated, they are assured of protection and preservation so that future generations may behold and experience their value.

Bernadine Racoma

Bernadine is a writer, researcher, professional and multi-awarded blogger and new media consultant. She brings with her a rich set of experience in the corporate world, as well as in the field of research and writing. Having taken early retirement after working as an international civil servant and traveling the world for 22 years, she has aggressively pursued her main interest in writing and research. You can also find Bernadine Racoma at .

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