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marine iguana in the Galapagos, by Joost van Uffelen

The freediving "Imps of Darkness"

Dear Charles,

When you set foot on the Galapagos islands in September 1835 you noticed the interesting wildlife and the diversity amongst the animals.

The differences between the at-first-sight identical animals on various islands would later lead to your book and Naturalists bible named "The Origin of Species".

Many people hold you in high regard because of it.

From your diaries though it seems you were appalled by the appearance of the Marine Iguanas that lived on isla Isabella. 

You typed them as "disgusting and clumsy animals" and regarded them, apparently not impressed by their looks, as "Imps of Darkness".

Now, Charles, although you´re widely typed as a genius, I have to disagree with you here. Nice that "evolution theory" of yours, but the "Imps of Darkness thing" is just nonsense. Here is why:

You see, Charles, I set foot on the Galapagos in September 2017 and by now we know a lot more about these Marine Iguanas. In fact, they are almost worshipped in the Galapagos. To me the Marine Iguana has such a unique prehistoric appearance that it is hard not to see it as a modern-day Godzilla, but cuter.

You might not have seen the movie "Godzilla", but it became one of the biggest movie hits in 1954. It has been redone many times successfully; people love to see it.

The blockbuster soundtrack "Deeper Underground" that accompanied the movie in 1998 was as much a hit as the movie itself. Check it out!

I wish you could have listened to it while watching your "Imps of Darkness" make their way across the beach.

Did you also walk head-down across the beach amazed by the lengthy trails in the sand? They started from the watersedge, but ended in the bush on the islands.

The long thick line that was accompanied both left and right by clawmarks must have intrigued you too, right?

Godzilla itself has been referred to as the "King of monsters". How is that for a royal title? The armour plating and spikes on their backs makes the Marine Iguanas look pretty badass too, although Godzilla outperforms them quite a bit with its pointy teeth and enormous size.

Now, Godzilla was apparently the result of an atomic bomb (dropped on Japanese islands more than 100 years after your arrival in Galapagos), so the Marine Iguana is a better, natural variant of it. Therefore I think you as the "greatest naturalist of all time" should have liked it even more.

They both have a long tail, which the Marine Iguana, much like Godzilla, uses to propel itself forward in the sea! That´s a pretty cool feat if you ask me.

How cool is that? Freediving mini Godzilla's! I guess you must have observed that, but apparently you were not impressed.

Marine Iguanas in contrast to Godzilla are not voracious predators, they are in fact harmless herbivores. So maybe not so "dark" after all Charles. I learned it took you a disection of one of the Iguanas (all for the sake of science huh..?) to find out they actually feed on sea-algea and seaweed instead of fish. Sad that freediving was not common practice for naturalists in those days, isn't it? 

During our visit some Iguanas still carried the left overs of a good vegetarian feed on their faces, which made them look rather cute. Yes, it made them look a bit "clumsy", but in a funny way I would say.

Being cold blooded reptiles, the iguanas have to warm up on land in between feeding sessions. When they lie on the dark warm lava rocks, their dark skin helps them to warm up quickly. So that "darkness" has a great natural function actually. While warming up the Iguanas expell sea water from their nostrils now and then. They somehow "sneeze" that salty seawater out. I believe you did not carry a camera in 1835, so it did not get covered in Marine Iguana sneeze. My camera did get covered in it. It was hilarious! I guess you should have been there..

Because of all this Charles, you should have given these "Imps of Darkness" a bit more credit.. In fact if reincarnation is a real thing, then let me in my next life be one of these freediving "Imps of Darkness". They rock!

Oh and we still owe you a beer for that evolution theory. If it wasn´t for you most of us would probably still believe in silly Creator stories...



joostvanuffelen's picture
About the Author:
Joost loves the oceans, travelling and (underwater)photography. Combining those three elements he creates ocean art, travel reports and ocean photo stories...

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