December 3, 2011

Marine Iguanas

 Marine iguanas were right at the top of my list of things to see in the Galapagos, and I did not come away disappointed. They were one of the most common animals we saw there and are present on nearly every island. Being cold blooded, they are only as active as they have to be, and since the bulk of their diet comes from underwater plants which chills their bodies to get, they are pretty docile when it comes to people and having their photos taken.
 There is quite a bit of variation in their appearance as well, though they are consistently dark in colour, the males will get large red and rusty patches all over themselves as they get closer to their prime breeding age. Swimming for their food builds up a high level of salt in their bodies which they eject by sneezing out little jets of concentrated salt water every few minutes.
 Since their food is concentrated along the seashore, so too are the animal themselves very dense on the ground near the water. Relaxing in large groups on the volcanic rocks that line the shores of every island they are a charming sight. During the morning when they want to warm up they turn their sides to the sun, maximizing the heat they absorb, and as the day goes on, they turn to face the sun and reduce any chance of overheating and dehydration.

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