Learn why you should never, ever challenge these particular reptiles to a breath-holding contest on this Wildlife Wednesday.
How long can you hold your breath? A minute? Maybe a minute and a half?
No matter how long it may be, the marine iguana has got all of us beat. These unlikely deep-sea divers can hold their breath for more than an hour—a useful tool, considering they find their food in the deep blue sea.
Marine iguanas, to no one’s surprise, make their homes on the rocky shorelines of some islands. “Some islands” being the Galápagos Islands.
Why are they threatened?
Marine iguanas face quite a few threats—and only some of them are caused by humans. El Niño, for instance—a warming of the Pacific Ocean current that passes by the South American coast—causes increased water temperatures and sea levels around the islands, and can cause mortality rates of up to 85 percent in some iguana subpopulations.
Animals introduced to the Galápagos Islands by people—such as dogs, cats, and pigs—prey on iguanas and their eggs, and have wreaked havoc on hatchling populations on more than one occasion. Oil spills and other types of water pollution also cause problems for these sea-lovers, since it affects the beaches where they nest and the algae reserves that they rely on for food.