Cayman may very well have its own unique strain of the green iguana. Terrestrial Research Unit Manager Fred Burton says Cayman now plays host to green iguanas from several different countries. It is believed that we have green iguanas from South America, Florida, and Honduras among other places. Most of them are believed to have arrived via the pet trade.
Iguanas have been seen in Cayman from as early as the 1980’s. Mr. Burton and his team believes that over the course of the last 3 decades, the isolation coupled with the necessity to evolve and adapt to new surroundings may have resulted in a new sub-species of green iguanas.
During a press conference Mr Burton said, “Chances are that we’ve got a mix here, and that means there is all of this kind of genetic diversity that comes from that, but it gives the species as a whole options to adapt to it. So yeah we could be at the very early stages of something new happening but we want to stop that.”
His research team has gathered genetic samples for iguanas here and sent them off to be tested. In the coming months Cayman could soon know if it has its own unique green iguana.
In the mean time the Department of Environment (D.o.E.) is pushing ahead with its efforts to find ways to reduce the green iguana population. Today (June 20) second D.o.E. initiated experimental culling efforts began. 18 teams are now out and about trying to catch and kill as many green iguanas as they can. The cull ends of Sunday. All told there is $150,000 worth of bounty to be collected.