A day in the life of a Galapagos marine iguana

By Tui De Roy

10 February 2022

Many of the stark black lava shorelines of the Galapagos Islands bristle with hundreds, if not thousands, of equally dark, metre-long lizards: marine iguanas.

Unmoving, from time to time they spurt out a sneeze-like spray of concentrated salt water from their round, scaly nostrils. This briny mist settles and dries in a whitish crust on surrounding surfaces, whether scaly skin or corrugated lava.

Come low tide, a slow wave of movement spreads amongst the prone bodies, as each animal extricates itself from the pile and begins to make its way towards the crashing waves nearby.

Larger individuals ignore the semi-exposed rocks, and switch from crawling to swimming by undulating their long tails from side to side while trailing their legs limply until they reach their chosen grazing spots.

It’s not the easiest life. Sure, most will make the daily feeding trip unscathed, but occasionally some are swept out to sea, and with much luck, may even end up washing ashore on another island.

Read more about the Galapagos's amazing marine iguanas.

Text and images Tui De Roy Producer Angela Heathcote Video Getty


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