Due to this feeding behavior at sea, understandably the iguanas ingest not only algae, but also a lot of extra salt (mainly sodium chloride along with some potassium). In order to deal with this excess amount of salt, the marine iguanas have a unique solution. A book on iguana biology summed it up pretty nicely:
To cope with this high-salt diet, the marine iguana uses large cranial salt glands that excrete most of the sodium, potassium, and chloride ingested; forceful expulsion of the secreted fluid is the cause of the dramatic snorting and sneezing observed in these animals.
So it turns out that violent sneezing is actually a pretty clever evolutionary adaptation to dealing with what would otherwise be a fatal salt overload! Not only did we get to see the world's only marine lizards, but I got to learn something new by getting iguana snot sprayed on me.
Thanks to Destination Ecuador for hosting Jason Goldman and I during our trip throughout several of the Galápagos Islands. I cannot wait to return! I know the iguanas will be right where we left them, blasting out salt water through their schnozes. Additional reading and sources can be found here, and you can follow for more on my Twitter and Instagram.
See more from Aaron on his YouTube Channel. Also on WorldPost:
Special report brought to you by: Sneezing Galápagos Marine Iguanas! These happen to be the only species of marine lizard in the world, and they excrete concentrated salt crystals from specialized nasal glands after feeding in the ocean. I had way too much fun recording these odd animals during our trip with DestinationEcuador.com through the islands #Galapagos #marineiguana #destinationecuador #Sneezing #lizard #galapagosislands