ELIZABETH BAY - LAND IGUANAS ARE SO AMAZING
Isabela Travel Blog› entry 14 of 22 › view all entries
(I HAVE NEVER SEEN ONE LAND IGUANAS LET ALONE ....4 LAND IGUANAS)
These animals are simply amazing. I had no idea how beautiful they were until i see it in real life. I am not big on reptiles but, land iguana is an exquisite animal. I would to see them feed. I like the smirk of their face. like the other animals on the island. They are not afraid of people. Unfotunatley, as i was walking past a burrow. A land iguana just left it. i only took a photo of it. I would love just to see it come out of it. I saw so much wildlife. The photos i have is just the small % of what i saw.
The Galapagos Land Iguana (Conolophus subcristatus) is a species of lizard in the Iguanidae family.
The Galapagos Land Iguana varies in morphology and coloration among different island populations.There are two taxonomically distinct forms of Conolophus inhabiting the western part of the islands (C. cristatus and C. pallidus) and one in the central part (C. cristatus).Its generic name, Conolophus, is derived from two Greek words: cono meaning "spiny" and loph meaning "crest", denoting the spiny crests along their backs. Its specific name subcristatus is derived from the Latin words sub meaning "lesser" and cristatus meaning "crested," and refers to the low crest of spines along the animal's back which is not as tall as in most iguanids.
Anatomy and morphology
Charles Darwin described the Galapagos Land Iguana as "ugly animals, of a yellowish orange beneath, and of a brownish-red colour above: from their low facial angle they have a singularly stupid appearance."The Galapagos Land Iguana grows to a length of three to five feet with a body weight of up to twenty-five pounds, depending upon which island they are from. Being cold-blooded, they absorb heat from the sun by basking on volcanic rock, and at night sleep in burrows to conserve their body heat.These iguanas also enjoy a symbiotic relationship with birds; the birds remove parasites and ticks, providing relief to the iguanas and food for the birds.
Diet and longevity
Land iguanas are primarily herbivorous; however, some individuals have shown that they are opportunistic carnivores supplementing their diet with insects, centipedes and carrion.
It is estimated that the Galapagos Land Iguana has a 60-year lifespan.
Galapagos Land iguanas become sexually mature anywhere between eight and fifteen years of age, depending on which island they are from. Mating season also varies between islands, but soon after mating, the females migrate to sandy areas to nest, laying 2-25 eggs in a burrow 18 inches deep.
On South Plaza Island, where the territories of Marine Iguanas and Land Iguanas overlap, the two sometimes interbreed, resulting in a mixture of features from each species. The most likely unions tend to be between male Marine Iguanas and Female Land Iguanas. Despite their long separation time and their being two distinct species from different genera, the offspring are viable, although likely sterile.
It is estimated that between 5,000 and 10,000 land iguanas are found in the Galapagos. These iguanas were so abundant on Santiago Island at one time that naturalist Charles Darwin remarked when it was called King James Island that ".
Reasons for decline
The biggest threat to Galapagos Land Iguanas is from feral animals introduced by humans to the islands. Feral dogs and cats attack the iguanas and destroy their nests; the iguanas, having lived in isolation for millions of years, never developed any instincts to flee from predators. Feral pigs destroy the nests of iguanas while searching for food and even eat the eggs of the lizards. This is common in Cerro Azul volcano and Isabela, and in Santiago pigs may be the cause of the disappearance of the land iguanas that were so abundant when Darwin visited.
Beginning in the early 1990's the Galapagos Land Iguana is the subject of an active re-introduction campaign on Baltra Island. These animals became extinct on Baltra by 1954, allegedly wiped out by soldiers stationed there who shot the iguanas for amusement. However, in the early 1930s, William Randolph Hearst had translocated a population of Land Iguanas from Baltra to North Seymour Island, a smaller island just a few hundred meters north of Baltra because he could not understand why no iguanas were present there.
Isla Isabela, Galapagos Islands The largest island in the Galapagos Archipelago at 4588 sq km, Isla Isabela was named by Christopher Columbus, in honor of Queen Isabela of Spain, who had sponsored his voyage. In the shape of a sea horse, this island measures around 100 km in length and is home to five young active volcanoes. An extremely beautiful place, Isla Isabela has a rich and intriguing past with many visitor sites on the island. A favorite hideaway for early pirates, buccaneers and whalers, there are a number of high cliffs here which enclose a protected bay.
The highest point on this island is the Volcan Wolf which sits at an altitude of 1,707 meters. A product of six volcanoes coming together over millions of years ago into one single island, Isla Isabela is undeniably one of the best places to tour in the Galapagos. Home to a huge variety of plant and animal species including the endemic Galapagos penguins, marine iguanas, flightless cormorants, Sally Lightfoot crabs, boobies and pelicans, this island is also the habitat of the rare and endemic Darwin Finches, Galapagos Hawks, Galapagos Tortoises, land iguanas and the Galapagos Doves.
With a fairly large human settlement residing in Puerto Villamil on the southeastern tip of the island, some other points of interest on Isla Isabela include, the Volcan Alcedo, where large numbers of giant tortoises can be spotted from June to December.
Another tourist hotspot here is Punta Albemarle, on the northern tip of the island. Used as a radar base by the US in World War II, this site is a great place to spot the flightless cormorant and a number of other birds. A definite must see when on Isla Isabela is Targus Cove lying east of Isla Fernandina. A former pirate haunt, this cove offers a great opportunity to take a panga ride, which not only presents some terrific snorkeling chances, but also lets you see many of the bird species here in their natural environment.
On the western shores of Isla Isabela lies Urbina Bay, where one can observe many animals as well.