PUERTO EGAS - MARINE IGUANAS, SEA LIONS, SNORKELING OH MY!??!?!!?
San Salvador Island Travel Blog› entry 16 of 22 › view all entries
DAY 8 (SEE VIDEOS)
(SAW A MOTHER SEA LION NURSING HER BABY.....WHAT A TRIP)
I went snorkeling today. I saw so much marine life. I saw parrot fishes, king angels, damsels, plenty of blennies, rabbit fishes, and a ray. I hope my photos from my underwater camera come out clear. It was a clear sunny day too. I got as far as ¼ mile from shore. I wanted to go further but, i had no "swim buddy" :(
NOTE: MY PHOTOS FROM MY UNDERWATER CAMERA ARE UPLOADED 5/15/08
The Marine Iguana (Amblyrhynchus cristatus) is an iguana found only on the Galapagos Islands that has the ability, unique among modern lizards, to live and forage in the sea.
On his visit to the islands, Charles Darwin was revolted by the animals' appearance, writing:
The black Lava rocks on the beach are frequented by large (2-3 ft) most disgusting clumsy Lizards. They are as black as the porous rocks over which they crawl & seek their prey from the Sea. I call them 'imps of darkness'. They assuredly well become the land they inhabit.
In fact, Amblyrhynchus cristatus is not always black; the young have a lighter coloured dorsal stripe, and some adult specimens are grey.
Another difference between the iguanas is size, which is different depending on the island the individual iguana inhabits. The iguanas living on the islands of Fernandina and Isabela (named for the famous rulers of Spain) are the largest found anywhere in the Galápagos.
Adult males are approximately 1.3 m long, females 0.6 m, males weigh up to 1.5 kg.
As a cold blooded animal, the marine iguana can spend only a limited time in the cold sea, where it dives for algae. However, by swimming only in the shallow waters around the island they are able to survive single dives of up to half an hour at depths of more than 15 m. After these dives, they return to their territory to bask in the sun and warm up again. When cold, the iguana is unable to move effectively, making them vulnerable to predation, so they become highly aggressive before heating up (since they are unable to run away they try to bite attackers in this state).
Marine iguanas have also been found to change their size to adapt to varying food conditions. During El Niño conditions when the algae that the iguanas feed on was decreased for a period of two years, some were found to decrease their length by as much as 20%. When food conditions returned to normal, the iguanas returned to their pre-famine size. It is speculated that the bones of the iguanas actually shorten as a shrinkage of connective tissue could only account for a 10% length change.
This species is completely protected under the laws of Ecuador, and is listed under CITES Appendix II.
The marine iguanas have not evolved to combat newer predators. Therefore, cats and dogs eat both the young iguanas and dogs will kill adults due to the iguanas' slow reflex times and tameness. Dogs are especially common around human towns and can cause tremendous predation. Cats are also common in towns, but also occur in numbers in remote areas, where they take a toll on iguanas.
Researchers theorize that land and marine iguanas evolved from a common ancestor since arriving on the islands from South America, presumably by driftwood.
A second school of thought holds that the Marine iguana may have evolved from a now extinct family of sea-going reptiles.
Santiago Island is an island of the Galápagos Islands. It is also known as San Salvador, after the first island discovered by Columbus in the Caribbean Sea (see San Salvador Island), or as James Island. The island, which consists of two overlapping volcanoes, has an area of 585 km² and a maximum altitude of 907 meters, atop the northwestern shield volcano. The volcano in the island's southwest erupted along a linear fissure, and is much lower. The oldest lava flows on the island date back to 750,000 years ago.
Marine Iguanas, sea lions, fur seals, land and sea turtles, flamingos, dolphins, and sharks are found here.
Puerto Egas, south of James Bay and west side of Santiago is one of the best sites. There is a long, lava shoreline where eroded rock formations, house an excellent variety of wildlife. Marine iguanas bask in the sun while land iguanas scater around feeding on exposed algae. The tide pools contain many Sally Lightfoot crabs, which attract other types of hunters. Following the trail Fur seal lions are found. Puerto Egas is not only a good spot for taking pictures but also perfect for snorkeling and seeing many species of tropical fish.
Sullivan Bay is especially fascinating for those who are interested in geology and volcanology.
Cousin's Rock is a well known dive site and is situated off the east coast of Santiago. It is a triangular rock that rises about 10m out of the water and is made up of many layers of volcanic rock.