Marine Iguanas


The Galápagos Islands

Baby marine iguana on an adult's tail

Marine Iguanas were one of the top attractions for me in wanting to go to Galápagos: maybe even the top single attraction, apart from the 'entire experience'. I was delighted to find that they're not only numerous but also extremely approachable.

Sadly, it was difficult to make good photos of them, partly because it was difficult getting them separated from each other, and partly because it was difficult getting separation between them and the dark lava backgrounds!
(Oh, and you're not allowed, by park regulations, to use flash)
Both of these tended to be particular problems on Fernandina where the sub-species is the least coloured, but where the breeding grounds hold huge numbers, who don't seem to mind all piling up on each other.

Small marine iguana looking over shoulder of large one.

Marine Iguanas are the only marine lizards in the world, and they are only found on the Galápagos islands. They swim by undulating their long tails. According to Charles Darwin, an adult male survived for an hour underwater. The big males go underwater to graze on algae: towards the end of the week, I was overjoyed to find myself snorkelling directly over one.

Marine Iguana coming out of water Marine Iguana swimming

However, they can also graze algae in the inter-tidal zone. Their scientific name, Amblyrhynchus means 'blunt-nosed'. Their blunt nose helps them get closer to the rocks from which they crop the algae, and their teeth seem almost conical, all the better to graze with.

Marine iguana grazing algae Marine Iguana grazing algae

The Islands







San Cristóbal

Santa Cruz

Santa Fé


Seymour Norte


The Wildlife

 > Marine Iguanas

Diary 2004

Diary 2005



  Bartolomé  ¦   Española  ¦   Fernandina  ¦   Floreana  ¦   Genovesa  ¦ 
  Isabela  ¦   North Seymour  ¦   San Cristóbal  ¦   Santa Cruz  ¦   Santa Fé  ¦   Santiago

Text and images © Liz Leyden, 2008
Email: liz [at] v-liz [dot] com
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