The traveler: Kay V. Christianson of Minneapolis.

The scene: A marine iguana raised its spiky head on Las Tintoreras Islet, off Isabela Island, part of Ecuador’s Galapagos National Park. The Galapagos archipelago is the only place on Earth that the saltwater-going reptile lives. The animals may look like a smaller version of a fierce killer dinosaur, but they actually live on underwater algae and seaweed and are gentle. “These creatures were so ancient looking and they allowed me to enter their world not seeming to be disturbed by my presence,” Christianson wrote in an e-mail. “I was able to be with them for a long time. The opportunity to observe and learn was incredible.”

The Destination: “Put it on your list of must-do travel,” Christianson said of the destination, more than 600 miles off the Ecuadorean coast. “It’s incredible to be there and experience up close so many unique and amazing creatures.”

How she got the shot: Patience paid off for Christianson, who waited for the right moment to shoot the creature in profile, “so the best expressions of the iguanas could be captured,” she wrote. She used her Olympus SP 550 Ultra Zoom digital camera.

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