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Swimming Dragons: Marine iguanas of the Galápagos

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Dragons swim off the coast of Fernandina and Isabela Islands in the Galápagos. Amblyrhynchus cristatus, commonly known as marine iguanas, are unique among lizards: Not only can they swim, but they also feed on oceanic algae as their primary source of sustenance. Naturalist Christian Villarroel explains:

“They propel themselves with their tails and whenever they need to dive down to go for the algae that they’re looking they go and use their very sharp claws to hold from the rocks to prevent the current from washing them off the coast.”

swimming iguana
Lindblad Expeditions observes these gentle herbivores underwater and on land, where they’re well known for their salty sneezes. From Oceana:

“Marine iguanas are also known for their very efficient salt glands, where they ‘sneeze’ out salt. Because they feed underwater, they ingest a large amount of saltwater. In order to prevent dehydration, they must expel salt without expelling water, so they have specialized glands that remove salt from their blood.”

marine iguana
Biologist Aaron Pomerantz filmed a few Sneezing Galápagos Marine Iguanas during his 2016 visit. Watch:

Watch these related videos next:
• Swim Alongside a Galápagos Marine Iguana
• The Pink Iguana of Galapagos
• Animals of the Galápagos archipelago in 360° 5K


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