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FEATURE ARTICLES: TRAVEL: 27 Turtles and Counting

27 Turtles and Counting

The Galapagos Islands are Greater Than the Sum of its Parts

by STAN SINBERG

Any second now, I'm going to stick a giant turtle up Nadine's nose.

Nadine is counting the giant land turtles that our tour group is finding on a turtle farm on Santa Cruz Island. There are many, many great things to do on the Galapagos Islands: climb up to active volcanoes, watch evolution happen almost before your eyes, snorkle with sea lions, or just partake of the stark beauty. Yes, the Galapagos offers many great things to do. But counting turtles isn't one of them.

"That's seventeen turtles so far," Nadine counts.

Heck - most people come because the place is a veritable Jerry Springer Show for dysfunctional animals. There are birds like the flightless cormorant that have actually forgotten how to fly, because they traded in their once formidable wings for a body that lets them dive better, to grab fish; arctic birds like penguins which have decided "some like it hot" and have forsaken the South Pole for the Equator; birds with the improbable name "Blue-footed booby" who divebomb headfirst into the sea by the hundreds, looking like an aviary version of kamikaze pilots; and marine iguanas - Jurassic Park looking creatures if ever there was one - stacked in piles so thick to keep warm, that they look like last year's hot Christmas toy parked in some warehouse in New Jersey, accompanied by a sign reading "Ten iguanas for a buck."

If you want to see how it all turns out, e-mail Stan.

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