A particular kind of lizard that lives in the sea is the marine iguana (Amblyrhynchus cristatus). This reptile is very numerous in the Galapagos Islands and is related to the land iguana, which is also located in this archipelago. The marine iguana is found all over the islands, especially the sea rocks and are far numerous than any other creature in the area.
An adult male iguana’s long body can reach up to 1.3 meters, while a female can measure up to 0.6 meters. They weigh between 0.5 kilograms and 1.5 kilograms. Marine iguanas regardless of their gender are colored black or dark gray. During mating season though, the male’s colors can change to red and green. Ultraviolet rays that can be harmful to humans are brushed off by these reptiles because of the dark pigment that protects their skin and warms them as well. Moreover, a marine iguana has tails that are built like propellers and makes it at home above or beneath the sea. They have sharp claws that can curve and allow them to cling to rocks in heavy waves or if they are beneath the surface. Marine iguanas have life spans of up to thirty- years.
Marine iguanas may look scary and it is true that they are not pretty, especially with their big eyes, seemingly grotesque faces, sharp dorsal scales, and salt-filled heads. Nevertheless, these unsightly animals are able to easily adapt to their surroundings, which can astound ordinary people. These reptiles look like monsters, but are gentle reptiles that feed primarily on algae and seaweed found beneath the surface. This herbivore can also tear off algae from rocks and move like a crocodile with their specially made tails. The waters around the Galapagos Islands are very cold, but the marine iguana freely swims around and their dark gray skin exposed to the frigid water can absorb the rays of the sun. Amazingly, they have specially-made glands that are excreted from their noses to remove excess salt from their blood, while they are eating.
Numerous lizards love to expose themselves in the sun and the marine iguana is no different. Since marine iguanas are exposed to the cold waters of the islands, they have to bask often in the sun to have the strength to find food because they are unable to “thermoregulate.” These dark colored reptiles can absorb heat very well. However, the lack of it lowers down their body temperature and makes them very lethargic. When this happens, they are at the mercy of many predators that want to feast on them. To counteract the threat, marine iguanas exhibit a combative stance to scare would-be hunters in the hope of bluffing its way out.
Centuries ago, marine iguanas had great numbers, but presently, their population is down to hundreds of thousands. The constant threat of animals like feral cats, rats, and dogs who feed on the many eggs and their offspring are pushing them to the brink. Fortunately, marine iguanas are protected throughout the islands, but are in constant danger of becoming relics of the past.