"Marine Iguanas" Top 5 Page for this destination Galápagos Islands Things to Do Tip by SanguiniA

Galápagos Islands Things to Do: 377 reviews and 1,065 photos

  Fat Marine Iguana on Espanola
by SanguiniA

While early visitors to the Galapagos were repulsed by these creatures, I found them to be truly fascinating. I wouldn't date one of course, but they far more interesting than some of the guys I dated :)

All of the marine iguanas throughout the islands, despite their different sizes and colours are in fact of the same species. Espanola's ones are the most colourful and the only ones to change colour from red to green in the breeding season.

Marine Iguanas, as the name implies, are iguanas that take to the sea for sustenance. In fact they feed off marine algae and may even dive to find some. This is one of the most notorious adaptations to a hostile environment in animal history. Anyway, for this to occur the iguana had to change physically from other normal land iguanas. First of all the tail is flattened to help in swimming. The claws are longer, for them to get a better grip to exit the water and for them not to be washed away by currents and waves. Their face is also flattened to allow them to better scrape off algae from rocks. They can also dive and spend several minutes underwater ... large males even up to half an hour and at a depth of 15m.

I visited the Galapagos in September and was amazed at how these creatures manage to live here and not hibernate during this season. The air was chilly and the sea frigid - for cold blooded creatures their lifestyle and success is truly remarkable. At night they sleep huddled together in large number and they are a bit slow to kickstart in the morning as they have to spend considerable time trying to absorb the sun's rays to get to an optimal temperature.

Marine Iguana Fact - To get rid of the salt accumulated in their system iguanas sneeze a mixture of salt and water upwards, like a fountain. They may also do this to ward off any threats; so mind you don't step too close ...

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  • Written Nov 1, 2005
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