The marine iguana (Amblyrhynchus cristatus) is an iguana found only on the Galápagos Islands. It is the only modern lizard, to live and forage in the sea. Also unusually, it is a vegetarian. It only eats algae.
7–11 subspecies; see text
The iguana can dive over 9 m (30 ft) into the water. It has spread to all the islands in the archipelago, and is sometimes called the Galápagos marine iguana. It mainly lives on the rocky Galápagos shore to warm from the comparably cold water. It can also be spotted in marshes and mangrove beaches. Charles Darwin described them:
- "The black Lava rocks on the beach are frequented by large (2–3 ft [60–90 cm]), 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".
- Nelson, K.; Snell, H. & Wikelski, M. (2004). "Amblyrhynchus cristatus". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2004: e.T1086A3222951. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2004.RLTS.T1086A3222951.en.
- Darwin, Charles (2001). Charles Darwin's Beagle Diary. London: Cambridge University Press. p. 494. ISBN 0-521-00317-2.