Like many species of the Galapagos Islands, marine and land iguanas are colorful, eccentric and can vary noticeably depending on the island you happen to be visiting.

The marine iguanas on the islands grow to be more than four feet long and are endemic to the Galapagos. Visitors on Galapagos Islands cruises may see them lounging on the shores of Isabela Island, especially the beaches of Urvina and Elizabeth Bay. The world’s only truly marine lizard, marine iguanas are common throughout the coasts of Galapagos. However, as you explore Española Island, be on the look-out for the red-colored race of marine iguana scurrying along the rock. In fact, as you explore the various islands, the reptiles sport a range of hues from deep red to bright orange and green. The marine iguanas pay no mind to visitors observing them.

They can be seen spitting the excess salt from their bodies as they bask in the rays after diving up to 32 feet to feed on marine algae.

There are two endemic species of land iguanas on Galapagos – Conolophus pallidus and Conolophus subsristatus. Charles Darwin commented that the large numbers of land iguanas present on Santiago Island prevented him from even pitching a tent when he traveled there in 1835. And while these large, yellowish lizards once roamed unchecked, the population has dwindled as the islands have grown in popularity among humans, according to the Charles Darwin Foundation. In fact, one species lives only on Santa Fe Island. The foundation initiated a restoration program in 1976 that aimed to quell the invasive species threatening the iguanas and create breeding programs.

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