On Gorgona Island, about 20 miles west of mainland Colombia, you can find all sorts of unique fauna thanks to its isolation from the mainland for thousands of years. None of these interesting creatures, however, stand out quite as much as the blue anole (Anolis gorgonae), the world’s only pure blue reptile. Only found on this small Colombian island.
Little is known about this unique and striking species of anole. Despite multiple scientific excursions to learn more about the nature of the distinctive lizard, the blue anole’s elusive behavior has made it difficult for scientists to properly study the population and their numbers. It is known that the anole is highly threatened as a result of habitat loss and the introduction of other fauna onto the island.
The blue anole saw the greatest threat to its conservation during the 1950s when a penal colony was constructed on Gorgona to house some of Colombia’s most dangerous criminals. Despite the prison’s closure in 1984 (and the island’s subsequent designation as a natural national park), the blue anole population has yet to recover. Recently, introduced species such as western basilisks have been preying on the blue anole, further threatening the species. There are now plans to place the rare reptile in a captive breeding program to safeguard its existence for generations to come.
Know Before You Go
The island is accessible via boat from Buenaventura and Guapi. Daily flights are available from Bogotá and Cali to Buenaventura, and to Guapi from Cali. There is a small entrance fee to the national park and gumboots are provided, by either the navy or travel guides, and must be worn throughout the entire stay on the island. A hotel and restaurant are also present open year-round on the island. Alcohol and weapons are prohibited at all times.