Galapagos wildlife

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Galapagos Islands marine iguana


These strange creatures come in two basic types: marine iguanas (Amblyrhynchus cristatus) and land iguanas. The marine iguana is extremely common on all the Galapagos Islands and lives exclusively on the rocky sea beaches.

Galapagos marine iguana

Although the iguanas on each island look a little different and are different in size, they are all the same kind of iguana. The iguanas develop their colours as they get older - the young are black, while adults can be combinations of black, green, red or grey, depending on the island on which they live. The iguanas on the Espanola Island are the most colourful, with blotches of red and green. The red colour comes from a kind of seaweed that blooms in the summer. They are vegetarians, feeding on seaweed on the rocks, in tidal pools or in the sea.

Galapagos marine iguana

In the breeding season, usually December and January, they become territorial. Males establish and maintain territories in the dry places above the water line, and near the nesting groungs.

Males fighting begins with a head bobbing display, with their mouths wide open. After a while the males charge each other, locking heads using the triangular crests on the top of their heads, and then pushing and shoving.

The fights can last for up to 5 hours. Once he has won his territory, a male waits to attract a female to his territory, and then mating takes place. The females then leave, and about 5 weeks later they lay their eggs in a soft, sandy spot.

They dig the nest by pushing the dirt back with their front legs, then out with their hind legs.

Galapagos Islands reptiles, marine iguana
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