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A few months ago I started to describe the Falkland Islands and said there would be more, finally I’m getting around to it. I’m sure that you are relieved to have the long wait for Chapter Two finally end. Phew.
The Falklands are mostly barren, windswept, treeless, gray and stormy, full of birds and surrounded by oceans full of marine life. They are alone at sea; about 300 miles east of Argentina’s Patagonia and 750 miles north of Antarctica. There are less than 4000 people living out there. There are few roads and roadhouses. There are two main islands populated generally by British-heritage people. It is still argued by the British and the Argentinians as to who should own and manage the islands. The islands proximity to Argentina carries modest weight, but as the founders were British explorers and settlers they exert the greatest influence and control. Actually the British ceded the islands to Spain in 1774 but resettled them in 1833. The islands are a British overseas territory even after a bit of a skirmish in the late 20th century (1982) and much discussion over the decades.
Overall they are a great destination for a nature-oriented traveler.
They also have that mix of colonial, military, and economic history (by 1900 there were thousands of feral cattle and an equal or greater number of sheep, wandering the islands) that drove all of the exploration and knowledge of the 19th century and has lingered into the 20th and now the 21st century. Many of the islands are the sort of uninhabited and windswept islands of movies and documentaries. The heathland vegetation is mixed with native Tussac Grass (a Poa) and a few short woody shrubs and trees only where people have planted them; safely tucked into a ravine or valley. There are no native trees. There is nothing of the South American plant diversity out on these islands. They split from Africa (not South America) some millions of years before the last ice age. The rock that underlays much of the Falkland seascape are the same as those found in southern Africa. The underlying rock is about a billion years old but the chunks that have become the Falkland Islands were attached to Gondwana until about 300 million years ago.
Sorry, this is supposed to be about Gentoo Penguins; but the earth is what it is because of what it was. Geology sets the rules, or at least supports the rules for, everything else.
There will be a few more Falkland pages posted in the very near future. I have them about ready for Rockhopper and King Penguins, marine mammals, sea birds, black-browed albatross, and lastly one on other birds of the islands.
At some point I’ll post a page of older blog pages so you can search backward for posts on the natural history and eco-tourism opportunities of and for; Africa, Australia, New Zealand, the Galapagos, and both North and South America.
2 thoughts on “The Falklands Again; Gentoo Penguins”
Love the penguins. Enjoy!
Remember the falklands as wild and beautiful, but never with the knowledge that David provides, excellent as usual.