Have any of you seen iguanas swimming at the beach? We were at Grapetree this Saturday and a large blackish iguana was swimming extensively underwater and came out occasionally to bask in the sun, but always eventually returned to the sea. Seemed to love it. I thought marine iguanas were native only to the Galapagos Islands. I am guessing that this iguana could not be a marine iguana but just loves the water. It really was a sight to behold.
Iguanas originally lived in trees above rivers and bodies of water. They are competent swimmers and can swim several miles at a time. At UVI, a tiger shark was brought into the lab and dissected. It was caught between St Thomas and St Croix. In its stomach was an intact large iguana, only missing its head. There are no marine iguanas
here only green iguanas. These are the most common species world wide and are often owned as pets in the states.
You are right that marine iguana's are only native and endemic to the Galapagos. One main differences between the swimming green iguana at Grapetree and the marine iguanas are that the latter swims and dives for food purposes. Their entire diet is composed of algae from the ocean. This is not the case for the green iguanas which are still terrestrial eaters. The marine iguanas also have a more specialized "salt gland" to excrete excess salt. All reptiles have this, but marine reptiles usually have a much bigger and more efficient gland.
Actually, the iguana's swimming may have been a flight response since swimming away is one of their primary defenses if near water. Adult green iguanas, especially males, can vary in color too. When they are cold, their body may darken in order to absorb more heat and vice versa. And his mating status and dominance status may play a role in body color too. Or maybe he was just dropped the wrong way as an egg and thinks he is a marine iguana! 🙂
It must have been pretty cool to see! Odd, but cool nonetheless.
And as Dave Barry says: Wouldn't the Swimming Green Iguanas be a great name for a rock band?
I have seen the Iggie's by us go in the pools on a regular basis! They can go under the water for periods of 10 to 15 minutes at a time as their metabolism slows down to do this. They are attracted to the pools and like to sunbathe there and have been known to leave some droppings behind as well! 🙂
I had a pet Iguana (his owner moved away) who was potty trained. We had a towel hanging from floor into the tub. He would go into the tub with about 2 inches of luke warm water in it and do his business and then come back out. There is a book called "Iguanas for Dummies" and it is quite informative!