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Reptiles

Galapagos Islands reptiles, Marine iguana

Marine Iguana: (Amblyrhyncus cristatus)  The marine iguana is extremely common on all the Galapagos Islands and lives exclusively on the rocky sea beaches. 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 Española 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. The biggest iguanas, generally males, swim out past the waves and feed underwater. They dive about 1.5 - 5 m down, but some very large adults can dive about 15 m or more.  Marine iguanas have the same features as other diving animals: when they dive, their blood moves away from the surface to save body heat, and their heart beat slows down drastically. Only the largest males dive because larger animals lose less body heat.

Marine Iguanas live in large colonies for most of the year. 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.

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