A giant 6-foot-long ‘Godzilla-like’ marine iguana has been spotted hunting in the waters of the Galapagos Islands recently. This monster lizard captured on camera at a local dive site by photographer Steve Winkworth, was reportedly the size of a man and was spotted off the northeastern shore of Isabela island, just south of the equator and below the famous Wolf Volcano. Isabela Island is the largest island of the Galapagos with an area of nearly 5,000 square kilometers and is the most volcanically active spot on the planet.
The sea-lizard referred to as the “Tiny Godzilla” most likely belongs to the group of giant marine iguanas that weigh nearly 12 to 13 kilograms and are typically seen prowling the shores of Isabela island.
Found nowhere else in the world but the Galapagos islands, the marine iguana is the only known sea-going species of its kind. Although the average adult male can grow up to 4 feet in length, this monster reptile was unbelievably massive. By contrast, the marine iguana’s terrestrial cousin the land iguana prefers the more drier regions of the Islands. The land iguana can grow nearly 3-feet-long and weigh almost 30 pounds. Altogether, three different terrestrial species of iguana are believed to inhabit the environs of the Galapagos Islands.
Marine iguanas can be spotted in the Galapagos in large numbers. Their population is not precisely documented, but estimates confirm that there may be hundreds of thousands of these indigenous reptiles living on these islands. The iguanas are said to be a protected species and considered vulnerable to extinction. Although somewhat fierce-looking, the marine iguanas are rather gentle giants often found cruising underwater mostly in search for algae and seaweed.
It is thought that terrestrial iguanas may have originally drifted on floating debris from southern America millions of years ago and somehow landed on the Galapagos. The marine iguana species may have possibly evolved from these early reptiles and have continued to populate the islands ever since. The marine iguana is an extraordinary creature that lives on land but prefers to feed in the sea, grazing on rock-weed exposed at low tides and often reaching for the sea in order to fetch underwater marine algae. Over millions of years, these magnificent reptilian species have adapted to the hostile tropical waters surrounding the islands.
According to National Geographic, nearly a decade ago, threats from excessive tourism and fishing as well as encroaching invasive species had persuaded authorities to officially declare the islands a World Heritage site. The site is equally popular for drawing the famous Charles Darwin to its shores over a century ago and inspiring his legendary 1859 work “The Origin of Species.”
The iguana is endemic to tropical regions of Mexico, Central and South America, as well as the Caribbean. They have an extremely powerful sense of vision and can use it to navigate while foraging for food through land and as sea as in the case of marine iguanas. The highly popular “green” iguana, also known as the American iguana, can also grow up to 6 feet in length and is considered among the largest species in the iguana family.
The marine iguanas of the Galapagos survive exclusively on underwater marine vegetation, which they can easily forage off rocks by employing their unique snouts and razor sharp teeth.
[Image via Shutterstock]