Thursday, December 18, 2008

Iguana vs. Iguana

Don't ever plan to visit the Galápagos islands if you're not a fan of creepy-crawly creatures.

Lizards and iguanas are everywhere. And I do mean everywhere. In a future post I'll include some pictures that illustrate that point, but for now I thought I'd explain the two types of iguanas that we saw over the course of our trip, both of which can only be found in the Galápagos: the land iguana and the marine iguana.

You could always tell where a land iguana might be hiding out; his trail in the sand would betray him.

Yep, there he was, cooling down under a bush.

One of his brothers chose to soak up rays on the beach instead.

Aren't they fascinating? Look at that little smirk, I love it. The prehistoric vibe was in the air -- it was kind of eerie. I'm pretty sure all of the iguanas were thinking, "Yeah, keep taking your pictures, morons... Our kind will be here long after you suckers are gone."

Then there were the marine iguanas, who were extremely interesting to observe because they're the only type of iguana in the world that can both live and eat out in the sea. When they swim, they move their long tails side to side in the water -- they don't use their legs to paddle or anything, so the end result is a very unique type of motion that is hard to describe. They glide along with their heads peeking out above the surface, swaying back and forth. I got a kick out of watching them.

From island to island the marine iguanas looked slightly different (hello, evolution!), but my favorites were what our guides called the "Christmas iguanas." The origin of their nickname is obvious from the shots below.

I thought this picture was funny because it shows how big the marine iguana is compared to the little lava lizards that run all over the place (they're another species that is endemic to the islands). The iguana is like, "Watch out, fool!"

These guys spend most of their days lying in the sun, slowing crawling around the beaches, spitting at each other and fighting. I was lucky enough to catch two males in a showdown on Española island (fifty-three second video below -- none of the voices in it are mine). The head-bobbing move never ceased to crack me up. That's supposed to be threatening?

I saw a lot of iguanas with blood on their heads; fights are pretty common. What else are they going to do? They bite each other and don't let go for a long time -- they are straight-up gangsta! Perhaps that's why many of them were heading down the trail to our zodiac drop-off... they hoped to stow away on our ship and get a break from all of the violence.

Sorry, guys -- humans only.

- e


m1ke said...

All your photos and comments about the Galapagos Islands have made up mind my about visiting them in the future. It looks like an absolutely astounding place. Love your blog! (espceially your LOST one!)

Anonymous said...

I actually raised one of these buggers for a couple of years when my granddaughter tired of it. Not my idea of a good pet. They are very interesting to watch - just not warm and fuzzy. They belong in their natural habitat not behind glass in a pet store where impressionable young girls buy them and then abandon them to their unsuspecting grandparents.

Anonymous said...

i can never remember what i've already told you in the comments (i swear i'm the person version of dory from finding nemo)... so if i already told you, you get to read it again! yay! :D

when i went to costa rica, i saw my fair share of iguanas...

but what was even creepier (and crawlier!) was a little something special i found in my shoe one morning...

i put my first shoe (old school converse), tied it up.

then i proceeded to put on my second shoe, tied that one up as well.

i stood up, walked a good hundred feet or so... and that was when i felt it.

i screamed, flicked off my shoe (the first one i had put on) and there inside was a scorpion!


thankfully, it's tail wasn't in the position to sting me... but it was so icky!!!!! i still check my shoes *every* time i put them on!

iguanas i can handle, scorpions... not so much! :)

*kristYn from CALI*

oh oh oh, what i really wanted to ask was... did you watch the season finale of the hills?!?! what'd you think?!?!