Feb 1

We’ve asked conservation organisations around the world to nominate a species that they believe to be overlooked, underappreciated and unloved, and tell us why they think that they deserve a fair share of the limelight, this Valentine’s Day.

Each nominee’s story is featured on the Arkive blog with information on the species, what makes them so special, the conservation organisation that nominated them and how they are working to save them from extinction.

Click the ‘unloved species’ tag above to see all of the nominations and their blogs.

Once you have perused the blogs you can vote for your favourite to help get them into the top ten unloved species and get them the recognition that they truly deserve! Share your favourite with others using the #LoveSpecies hashtag on Twitter and Facebook and tell them why they should vote for them too. Voting closes on February 14th at 23:59 PST (07:59 GMT).

Join us and our conservation partners in celebrating and raising awareness for some of the world’s most unloved species this Valentine’s Day!

Species: Galapagos marine iguana

Nominated by: Galapagos Conservation Trust

Conservation status: Vulnerable on IUCN Red List, two subspecies, found on San Cristobal and Genovesa islands respectively, are classed as Endangered

Why do you love it? Here at GCT we love the marine iguana because it is the only sea-going lizard in the world, making it one of a kind!

They are not very agile on land, but they are excellent swimmers. They go into the sea to feed on the red and green algae. Incredibly, they can dive to nine metres and can hold their breath for half an hour. Their diet contains a lot of salt, which they filter from their blood at their nose, and then they sneeze out the excess salt.

There are six subspecies, each from different islands, and they vary in size. They are a black colour for most of the year, but the males change colour in the breeding season to attract a mate, with the different subspecies turning different colours. The marine iguanas on Espanola Island turn bright red and green, earning them the nickname of Christmas iguana.

They are not really social animals, however when it gets colder, they will pile on top of each other to conserve heat.

What are the threats to the Galapagos marine iguana? Marine iguanas are often predated by cats and dogs, invasive species in the Galapagos Islands. The other main threat the marine iguanas comes from climate events such as El Niño. The rise in ocean temperature depletes the iguanas’ food source, leading to starvation during strong El Niño years. Previous El Niño events have seen up to 85 percent declines in the marine iguana population.

What are you doing to save it? GCT has previously funded projects in Galapagos to conserve the marine iguana populations. Our work has focused on researching the genetic relationships between subspecies, and investigating the impact of feral cats on threatened marine iguana populations. We also continue to support marine conservation projects to protect the Galapagos Marine Reserve, where the iguanas feed.

Find out more about GCT and their work with the Galapagos marine iguana

Discover more lizard and snake species on Arkive