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Sea Lion Island
Sea Lion Island is one of the smallest in the Falklands archipelago (just 5 miles long and just over a mile wide at its widest point), and the most southerly inhabited island, but it is still a prime destination with the sheer abundance of wildlife in such a small area making it a must on any Falklands itinerary.
There are over 47 species of bird to be found, including Rockhopper, Gentoo and Magellanic penguins and one of the worlds rarest birds of prey, the Striated Caracara; this is a haven for birdwatchers and photographers. However perhaps by far the biggest attraction is the large number of Southern elephant seals that breed here, principally on the white sandy beach at the appropriately named Elephant Corner. Also not to be missed are the Southern Sea Lions at East Loafers.
Pods of Killer whales are also often seen circling close offshore (usually a treat for the early risers) attracted by the prospect of penguins and seals.
The proximity of much of this wildlife to the lodge and the easy walking terrain makes it a great destination for families or those less agile.
On a more sombre note, Sea Lion Island is the site of the memorial to HMS Sheffield which was sunk by Argentine forces in 1982, and the island is also home to the grave of one of the 3 civilians killed during the Conflict.
Award-winning, world renowned photographers have adorned books and magazines with their prize-winning shots of the wildlife on Sea Lion Island, but even with the most basic equipment you can take away shots to treasure.
Accommodation :: Sea Lion Lodge
Purpose built lodge
11 rooms ( 1 single, 1 triple, 5 twin, 2 double rooms and 1 family room [double and 3 singles])
All rooms ensuite
Full board accommodation only (packed lunches provided on request)
Large lounge and bar; conservatory
Introductory tour (approx. 2 hours duration)
No smoking policy except in conservatory
The following is reproduced from the informational brochure you receive when you arrive, and offers some insight into life in the islands.
The nearest landfall is Bull Point, some eight miles away, and the nearest settlement is Bleaker Island, fourteen miles distant. This isolation and the rugged coastline, which offers no harbor, has meant that only the most resourceful and hardy sheep farmers, through the years, made their homes on Sea Lion Island.
Though virtually flat, the original settlers sought the islands' highest point on which to build their house. From the summit of this slight rise it would have been possible to signal passing ships and distant mainland neighbors. A simple system of bonfires (3 in a row meant help was needed) was used throughout the Falklands until the advent of radio, and on Sea Lion these beacons could easily be lit from the house. But the system was of limited value on this low, distant island and on two occasions perilous small boat journeys were made to summon help. In 1929, Alexander Dugas, a Frenchman employed on Sea Lion committed suicide and his companions felt it necessary to inform the authorities. But the lack of harbors meant that no boat of any size could be kept on the island and so a determined individual called Benny Davis constructed a make-shift craft from wooden barrels and launched it into the surf. The remarkable sailor set out just before dark, and arrived at Speedwell Island some twelve hours later. He explained that he had simply headed west and then taken his direction from the smell of the cormorants on Annie Island.
Benny Davis's exploits eloquently illustrate the hardship caused by such isolation until quite recently. One or two visits a year by ships to pick up wool and leave mail and provisions was the best that could be expected until the introduction of Government float planes in the early 1950's. Since 1982 conditions have changed. Coastal vessels now call three or four times a year to discharge cargo (which is winched up a steep cliff); Islander aircraft fly in and out on the grass runway with visitors almost every day at the height of summer; and doctors make routine visits about four times a year.
Over forty species of birds visit and nest on the island. Occasionally rare visitors arrive, such as southern lapwings, whimbrels, wilson's phalarope, swallows and egrets. The striated caracara, one of the rarest birds of prey in the world, nests on the island in a number of sites. They are called Johnny Rooks locally because they are cheeky and mischievous, and will steal any small object left unattended. The southern elephant seal breeds on the beaches from October and 400 pups are born each summer. The South American Sea Lion also breeds, and although in decline, up to 39 pups can be seen playing around their parents in December and January each year. Fur and leopard seals can be seen at times. The beaches are patrolled by killer whales, which add to the excitement of this wildlife paradise.