Based on studies of brown pelicans Pelecanus occidentalis californicus and Heermann's gulls Larus heermanni, disturbances by recreationists, educational groups, local fishermen and scientists alike can be seriously disruptive and damaging to breeding seabirds in the Gulf of California and off the west coast of Baja California. Similar instances have been identified throughout the world?the problem is not difficult to document, but it is difficult to eliminate. The increasing human-seabird contacts on islands in the Gulf of California and along the west coast of Baja California raise serious questions and immediate concern about the continued preservation of nesting colonies of marine birds in those areas. Conservation measures must consider the extreme sensitivity of many seabirds to the inter- and intraspecific behavioural imbalances created by human disturbances. In some cases, total exclusion of humans may be required; in others, limited access might be possible under closely managed conditions at certain times of the year. A symbiotic relationship between seabird conservation, legitimate research and tourism should be the desired goal.