John Van de Graaff

By VandeGraaff

Marine Iguanas

A group of Marine Iguanas at James Bay, on Santiago Island. They are the only species of truly marine lizard. Their length can approach 1.3 meters (though these are mostly smaller). They are vegetarians, feeding on algae, mostly underwater. They are seen everywhere on rocky, volcanic shores in the Galapagos, spending much of the day immobile above water. The surroundings here provide a good impression of the volcanic terrain found on many of the coastal areas in the archipelago.

The Galapagos Islands are entirely of relatively recent volcanic origin, created by a hot spot that flows upward sporadically through the tectonic plate (the "Nazca" plate) which carries the islands eastward toward the Latin American mainland, resulting in "shield volcanoes", similar to those which formed the Hawaian Islands.

(Backblipped--for an overview, see 20 July)

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