Hitchhiking Iguana: Kayaker saves iguana struggling miles off coast

Kayaker Saves Iguana Florida
Credit: Key West Kayak Fishing

A kayaker miles off the coast of the Florida Keys found an iguana swimming in the open water  struggling to get back to land.

“What’s going on? What are you doing out here” the kayaker says to the iguana.

The kayaker, known as Steve on his Facebook page, says “I was coming in from an offshore trip and I noticed a weird shaped object floating in the distance. All I could see were the multiple fins running down its back so I thought it was some sort of palm frond, but it just didn’t look right.”

“Man, that’s some rough business out here huh? What are you doing?”

On the video you see Steve try and coerce the iguana to come on board and the iguana appears more than willing. The reptile attempts to climb aboard a thin bar that connects to the kayaks modified with an outboard engine.

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After several failed attempts to board, Steve helps the iguana along with his oar.

“Man, that’s some rough business out here huh? What are you doing?” says Steve.

As the video unfolds, Steve tells the iguana he would probably be more comfortable on the back.  Remarkably, the iguana finds his way onto the top of an ice chest and rides comfortably back to shore with the wind in its scales.

At the end of the video, Steve places the iguana safely in a mangrove and bids the iguana farewell.

“Nice meeting you,” Steve says. “Rest out for a while, Be safe, goodbye.”

“Most likely it would have died out there as the current that far out would most likely push it East with very little chance of coming back inshore,” Steve wrote on his Youtube channel.

How far can iguanas swim?

Exactly how far a marine iguana can travel is not known for sure, but these lizards have travelled between relatively distant islands.

According to an interview with zoologist Amy MacLeod, using genetic data, scientists can determine the island that an individual iguana is from, and they have discovered that some have relocated.

Iguanas from Santa Cruz, for example, were found on San Cristobal, more than 65km away. This is surprisingly far, given that the water around the archipelago is rather cold, cooling the lizards and limiting their swimming time.

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