At the same time, iguanas are growing in popularity for another reason—their taste. Iguana is a popular dish in Central America and the Caribbean, whose immigrants comprise some of the fastest-growing populations in the state.
But the iguana boom has had consequences. The reptiles dig holes to lay their eggs, leading to erosion, and often wreaking havoc on South Florida’s many manicured lawns and golf courses. They’re also thought to spread salmonella to pets.
Iguanas now occupy a strange space in the psyche of Floridians. They are at once a sought-after pet, a destructive pest, and a delicacy. This notoriety has birthed a cottage industry of iguana enthusiasts who are able to exploit these differences. Iguana trappers can arbitrage the species between those who want them off their property and those who want them displayed in a terrarium or prepared for a dish.
In this short documentary, The Atlantic follows an iguana hunter who has found yet another revenue stream for flipping iguanas: YouTube. The Iguana King is a window into a future of conservation driven by profitability and search-engine optimization.