Galapagos Islands

Facts About Galapagos Marine Iguanas

Found only in the Galápagos Islands, marine iguanas are very special, because they are the world’s only seafaring lizards. However, there are many things that you may not know about them. If you are visiting the Galapagos Islands, these are some interesting facts about Galapagos Marine Iguanas.

Can hold on the breath for a long time

These agile swimmers can hold their breath for up to forty minutes at a time.

They change their color

The Marine Iguanas are usually  black or dark gray, which helps them absorb the heat from the sun. Their dark color helps to keep them warm in the cool waters of the Galapagos. However, males change their color to bright red, green, turquoise, and orange during the mating season, from December to March.

Can eat underwater

Galapagos Marine Iguanas have the unique ability, among modern lizards, to forage in the sea, making them a marine reptile. Even so, they have been caught eating plants on land as well. Their diet consists almost exclusively on algae.

They adapt their skeleton

During times of lack of food, marine iguanas shrink their skeleton to adjust and adapt to a new change in their diet. For instance, during the natural phenomenon called El Niño, the waters of the island remained warm, which reduced the food supply for marine iguanas and other creatures of the sea. During this period, marine iguanas lost over twenty percent of their body mass.

They have the habit of sneezing

Since marine iguanas have an excess of salt in their system, they sneeze frequently to get rid of the salt. This excess of salt happens while they eat because they tend to swallow saltwater.

Their size depends on  where they live

The difference in body size of marine iguanas between islands is due to the amount of food available, which depends on sea temperature and algae growth. The largest marine iguanas are found on Isabela and Fernandina Islands. Fernandina is home to one of the biggest marine iguana colonies in the archipelago. Marine Iguanas can live for up to ten years in the wild and grow up to five feet long.

Their predators

Predators of the marine iguanas include Galapagos hawks, and great blue herons because they eat small hatchlings. Sadly humans are on this list because of pollution and introduced predators, like dogs and cats. At least they are protected throughout the archipelago, but still are considered vulnerable to extinction.

They pay attention to Mockingbirds

Marine iguanas love Mockingbirds and dislike Galapagos hawks. When Galapagos hawks are on the hunt, Mockingbirds let out a distinctive cry. Some iguanas have learned that this means danger which causes them to run for cover.

Their heart rate drops

While swimming, marine iguanas heart rate drop to half of that on land, enabling them to stay beneath the sea for extended periods of time.

This species is endemic to the Galapagos Island, meaning that can only be found in the archipelago. Come meet them for yourself! Start planning your trip to the islands and  book a suite in the newest Galapagos Hotel, Ikala Hotel. We offer superior service, brand new amenities and unmatched comfort.