March 20, 2015
- as seen by -Paul P. Calle
He was perched high atop the lava boulders on the edge of the breaking surf, alert and attentive to any male interloping on his territory. This Galápagos marine iguana’s dramatic colors, coupled with the inflation of his body to increase his apparent size, augments his aggressive behavior toward potential rival males ensuring his continued access to females for breeding. On a recent trip to Isla Floreana in the Galápagos archipelago, I enjoyed the spectacle of this colorful male, in all his vibrant beauty, as he defended his territory.
This unique iguana found on several of the Galápagos Islands, is only one of the many species found there that occur nowhere else on earth. It is the only ocean-going iguana, and it feeds underwater on algae. It basks in the warm equatorial sun to raise its body temperature both before swimming into the cold Humboldt current to enable it to have the body temperature necessary to forage, as well as afterwards to restore a warm body temperature for digestion.
With 97% of the land in the Galápagos archipelago preserved as a national park, and despite many ongoing threats, the spectacular wildlife is easily viewed. It is also valued and recognized worldwide both for its uniqueness, and for the formative impact that each creature had on Charles Darwin in formulating his theory of evolution.