Falkland Islands

About

The Falkland Islands lie in the South Atlantic on the equivalent latitude to London, on their own continental micro-plate about 650 km off the coast of South America and 1600 km from Antarctica. This remote archipelago of 700 islands covers an area of 12,173 km with a human population of 2,841 (in 2012). There are two main islands, East and West Falkland. Habitat types include: shallow marine waters, subtidal aquatic beds, rocky marine shores, low cliffs, sandy and pebble shores, grasslands, coastal freshwater lagoons, sandflats, dune systems, freshwater lakes, natural river systems, mountains and peatlands with pools and marshes. The economy is based on sustainable sea-fisheries.

Several freshwater fish are found in the rivers, which are important habitat for the migratory, native zebra trout Aplochiton zebra.  

The islands support vast colonies of seabirds – most of the world population of black-browed albatrosses Thalassarche melanophrys, and the largest concentration of rockhopper penguins Eudyptes chrysocome. Other species of penguins that breed there are: gentoo penguin Pygoscelis papua, Magellanic penguin Spheniscus magellanicus, macaroni penguin Eudyptes chrysolophus and king penguin Aptenodytes patagonicus. The Striated caracara Phalcoboenus australis is a charismatic bird of prey found here and some islands off the coast of South America. Two endemic bird species the Falkland steamer duck Trachyeres brachydactyla and Cobb’s wren Troglodytes aedon cobbi. Several other birds found here are endemic subspecies, some of which are expected to be elevated to species level.

The Falklands are exceptionally rich in marine life, and provide breeding grounds for sea lions Otaria flavescens, elephant seals Mirounga leonine and fur seals Arctocephalus autralis. 22 cetacean species occur in the surrounding seas, including orcas Orcinus orca, sei whales Balaenoptera borealis and sperm whales Physeter macrocephalus.

There are approximately 400 species of plants in the Falkland Islands; 177 of these are recorded as native and 14 endemic to the Islands.  There are many endemic species mosses and liverworts found here.

Over 1000 invertebrate species have been recorded. Many of these are endemic such as the Queen of the Falklands fritillary buttery Yramea cytheris. Some new species are still being described.

The economy was previously based on whaling but is now based on tourism, licensed commercial fishing as well sheep farming. Oil exploration is taking place offshore which could further expand the economy.

In 2014, a research institute was founded to establish excellence in scientific research in the Southern Oceans. This is based here.

In 1982, the islands were invaded by Argentina. At the time there was a military dictatorship ruling Argentina. They viewed the major defense cuts taking place in the UK, as an opportunity to retake the Falklands or ‘Malvainas’ to increase their popularity at home. In over 74 days of heavy combat, 255 British, 3 Falkland Islanders and over 640 Argentines lost their lives, with over 700 wounded. Thirty years after the campaign, the British Forces still have a base on the island. Land mines, buried during the conflict, are still present to today and have left some areas unavailable for habitation by islands but open to wildlife.

Read more about the wildlife, history and cultural heritage of all of the UK Overseas Territories in the 704 page Britain’s Treasure Islands book (CLICK HERE).

Watch 42 ‘mini-documentaries’ that explore the wildlife, cultures and history of all of the UK Overseas Territories (CLICK HERE). 

Map

Video

Falkland Islands – wildlife and heritage

 

Falkland Islands – Jimmy the ex-whaler

 

Read more about the wildlife, history and cultural heritage of all of the UK Overseas Territories in the 704 page Britain’s Treasure Islands book (CLICK HERE).

Watch 42 ‘mini-documentaries’ that explore the wildlife, cultures and history of all of the UK Overseas Territories (CLICK HERE).