Marine Iguana - Imp of Darkness
The marine iguana, which is also sometimes referred to as Galapagos marine iguana because of its only being found on the Galapagos Islands, is a distant relative of the mainland lizards (in terms of geographic space and adaptations). It can be seen on the rocky shores, marshes, and mangrove beaches of its native archipelago. What makes the marine iguana, which can grow to 5.6 ft (1.7 m) long and weigh up to 3.3 lbs (1.5 kg), so different from other modern lizards is that it has the ability to live and forage in the sea. In fact, when diving for algae and seaweed, the marine iguana can reach depths of as deep as 30 ft (10 m). Once under water, the marine iguana uses its flat snout to make better contact with the rocks that algae and seaweed grow on, and its sharp teeth to scrape it off. To aid in the processing of this food source, the marine iguana has a gland that filters the excess salt it ingests out of its blood. It will then expel this salt by sneezing; this results in the lizard constantly have dried residue around its nostrils. This can make them appear white with the salt residue all over their bodies. Their colors (black, grey, green, red and blue) vary by season, gender and region (island) but they are usually darker shades.
The marine iguana's appearance is obviously not particularly attractive, but was best summed up by famed naturalist Charles Darwin, who upon first laying eyes on the marine iguana, stated that on the black rocks of lava were “large, disgusting and clumsy lizards” and also called them “imps of darkness”. The clumsiness of the marine iguana is a direct result of its mechanisms that allow it to swim. It has a laterally flattened tail, spiked dorsal fins (these both allow it to swim faster), and long sharp claws (they allow it to hold onto rocks during strong currents). Marine iguanas are also known to change their size to adapt to conditions that yield low feeding. It's speculated that the marine iguana's bones shrink and shorten as much as 20% when it's not eating regularly. The marine iguana is unlike any other reptile in the world, but also never evolved to defend against predators like humans, dogs, and cats. It is a rated as “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and must be protected from the actions of humans.