Marine Iguanas huddled together - photo by dichoso
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Marine iguanas – also known as sea iguanas – are only found in the Galapagos. They are the only species of iguana that forages in the sea, where they feast on seaweed – the main constituent of their diet.

After the 2001 oil spill of the tanker Jessica off of Santa Fe, there was a 62% decrease (from ~25,000 to ~10,000) in the marine iguana population of that island within one year. This was attributed to the resulting death of a beneficial microorganism that lives in the animals’ gut that the iguanas need to digest seaweed. The marine iguana populations of other islands not affected by the spill did not experience the same decline in that time period. A testament to the fragility of ecosystems and the lasting impact even small spills can have.

Marine Iguanas huddled together – photo by dichoso
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