Galapagos marine iguanas are one of nature's most unusual creatures
The Galapagos Islands are the only place in the world where marine iguanas live. These large lizards have adapted to a harsh environment where food on land is scarce. The islands can be dry and devoid of the vegetation on which they feed. Their diet is almost completely made up of algae that grows along the shores of the islands. These iguanas have evolved so that they are able to swim and dive to reach the algae below the surface. Marine iguanas are capable of diving to a depth of 100 feet and they can hold their breath for up to 30 minutes.
Capable swimmers with powerful tails, they are able to fight through strong currents to feed. They have enormous claws that allow them to grip the rocks in the surf while they eat. The lizards bask in the sun in large numbers, storing up body heat that allows them to withstand the cool water that surrounds the Galapagos Islands. Once they have warmed sufficiently, they dive into the surf and swim down to feed once each day. They will eat as much as they can before the cold drives them from the water and back onto land to warm up again. Despite being situated near the equator, the Galapagos Islands are surrounded by colder water due to the convergence of three ocean currents.
Scuba divers and nature enthusiasts travel great distances to see these iguanas and visit them close up. Diving among them and watching them in their natural environment is a fascinating experience, but not everyone has felt this way about them. Charles Darwin made a famous voyage to the Galapagos Islands in 1835 and he learned about the unique creatures there with adaptations that led to his theory of evolution. He was disgusted by the appearance of the marine iguanas and he called them “Imps of Darkness”. Their flattened faces have also been compared to “Godzilla”, the famous fire-breathing lizard that terrorizes cities in the Hollywood movies.
Marine Iguanas are one of many very unique creatures that thrive in this hostile and beautiful world.