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Flora and fauna of the Falkland Islands

The Falkland Islands, located in the Argentine sea, have an inhospitable and unstable climate that makes it difficult for a great variety of life to exist. The few organisms adapted to these conditions usually have a direct relationship with marine life or near the coast, being animals and plants very characteristic of the place.

If you want to know the flora and fauna of the Falkland Islands , as well as find out some tips on how to do sustainable tourism in the place, be sure to read this article from AgroCorrn. We tell you everything!

You may also be interested in: Flora and fauna of the Galapagos Islands

Where are the Falkland Islands – situation

The Falkland Islands are located in the South Atlantic Ocean about 500 km away from Argentina (parallel No. 52 and meridians No. 58 and 60). The archipelago is made up of two large islands, Soledad and Greater Maldiva , and more than 200 islets or small islands.

The total area of ​​the archipelago is around 15,800 km 2 . It is estimated that around 3,000 people live on these islands, of which most live in the archipelago’s capital, Puerto Argentino or Puerto Stanley , on Soledad Island, located on the eastern coast. The climate in these islands stands out for being very cold, windy and unstable, with rains most of the year. The temperature is between 5ºC and 18ºC.

These islands are declared as non-autonomous territory by the United Nations, since the United Kingdom is listed as its administering power to this day but its sovereignty remains under the claim of Argentina, who requires its return from the invasion and occupation of the English in 1982.

Fauna of the Falkland Islands

The fauna of the Falkland Islands is not of enormous variety, since it is mainly concentrated in the coastal areas. There, cetaceans such as whales , dolphins and killer whales, and pinnipeds such as seals, lions, elephants and sea lions make the coastal areas of the archipelago their home.

There is also a great abundance of mollusks, krill, jellyfish, crustaceans and fish fauna, such as oysters and clams; as well as a great variety of fish, such as the pompano, the polacra, the hoki, the pollock, the ray fish or the southern brótola.

As for the birds, the penguins stand out from the flightless ones, of up to four different species, such as the yellow plumed penguin. As for flying birds, there is a great variety: gulls, bustards, cormorants, caranchos, pigeons, petrels, ducks and geese.

Land mammals do not stand out on these islands. The only ones recognized as autochthonous to the region, subspecies of canids, such as the Malvinas fox or guará, became extinct during the second half of the 19th century after being considered a pest for livestock at that time.

These are some of the most representative animals of the Falkland Islands :

Black Carancho ( Phalcoboenus australis )

The black carancho lives only in the southern tip of South America. It is a bird of around 60 centimeters and a weight of just over 1 kilo. As for their colors, they are practically brown all over the body, except for the chest, belly and throat, where they show off whitish lines.

Aggressive and voracious, it is a scavenger bird that stalks penguin colonies. However, in addition to looking for carrion, it is also common to see him attacking young or disabled sheep, as well as penguin chicks.

Rockhopper penguin Eudyptes chrysocome )

Although the Rockhopper penguin is basically black and white, it sports yellow eyebrow feathers over its red eyes, which gives it that special appearance. Its weight ranges from 3 kilos and 55 centimeters in length, making it the smallest of the crested penguins.

Of social behavior, this species lives in pairs and feeds on krill, fish, mollusks, plankton and crustaceans. However, its population is classified as vulnerable due to the decrease of up to 24% in the number of specimens in the last 30 years.

Finally, it should be noted that the Falkland Islands are not only home to this species of penguins, but other species such as the gentoo penguin, royal penguin and Magellan penguin also coexist here, which come to create huge colonies of up to more than 10,000 individuals.

Brown skua or great skua ( Stercorarius skua )

The brown skua or large skúa stands out, first of all, for its enormous size, about 1.5 kg in weight, 1.5 meters of wingspan and almost 60 cm in length. As for its colors, it is basically dark brown and with a gray hooked bill.

It is also characterized by its aggressiveness and opportunism. The Brown Pag is a large slow-flying predator that feeds on fish and specimens of other species of young seabirds. Also, take the opportunity whenever possible to steal prey from other birds.

Almost all his life is spent on the high seas, taking advantage of the settlement on land only in the breeding season. A curious fact is that at this time we can hear them emit a sound similar to a barking, during the rest of the times it is very silent.

Southern right whale ( Eubalaena australis )

The southern right whale, common in the southern hemisphere, specifically in the Atlantic, South Pacific and South Indian oceans, is a huge cetacean approximately 15 meters long and 40 tons in weight that basically feeds on krill.

A particular physical trait of the species focuses on the presence of calluses on its head. In addition, as a curious fact, male southern right whales have the largest sex organs compared to the entire animal kingdom, being able to weigh 525 kilos each.

Unfortunately, like many other species of cetaceans, this bearded whale is in danger of extinction as a cause of indiscriminate hunting and its vulnerability: slow swimming and large size.

However, this whale is not the only one that we can find in the waters that surround these islands, but other species also coexist such as the blue whale , the humpback whale, the logger or the northern rorqual whale, and even the killer whales.

Below, you can see images of the animals of the Falkland Islands in order of mention. Also, in the cover image you can see the Rockhopper penguin ( Eudyptes chrysocome ).

Flora of the Falkland Islands

As with the fauna, the vegetation of the Falkland Islands is not particularly varied. This is mainly due to the climatic difficulties that plague the region. Either way, the plants of the Falkland Islands are very peculiar and characteristic of the steppes. Hard and low grasses predominate, shrubs (in some cases they reach 2 meters), lichens and mosses, which form large peat bogs, but there is a great decline in trees.

Here are some examples of the vegetation of the Falkland Islands :

Tussock grass

Tussock grass is a species of grass that can grow to over two meters. They vary between wet and dry tussocks according to the type of humidity and soil that occurs on the island. While the humid ones consist of little space between the plants and are dense, the dry ones have steppe formations and great space between the plants. It is used as a feed for livestock, which is why it is enormously abundant in the archipelago. Many pinnipeds and penguins also use these grasses for shelter.

Phytoplankton

Phytoplankton is the basis of the maritime flora of the Falklands, and is made up of bacteria, algae and protists. Learn more about What is Phytoplankton and What is Plankton and its importance in these other AgroCorrn articles.

Veronica

Verónica is a beautiful shrub-type plant that stands out for its pleasantly scented purple and lilac flowers, as well as its leaves in different shades of green. In fact, Veronica is a whole genus of bushy plants, so some have a more rounded shape and others more spindly, as well as a somewhat different leaf shape.

Balsam of the swamps

The balsam of the swamps or also called varnish plant is another of the typical flora specimens of the Falkland Islands. We can compare this plant with large round cushions to get an idea of ​​its shape.

As when explaining the animals of the Falkland Islands, below we show you images of the flora of the Falkland Islands in the order mentioned.

How to do sustainable tourism in the Falkland Islands

Most tourists come to these islands between the months of October and March, but not all of them know how to respect the natural ecosystems and the living beings of the archipelago while contemplating them. This causes serious damage to the fauna and flora of the place, such as pollution, loss of habitat and alteration of cycles and customs in some species.

Therefore, to continue maintaining the islands as a tourist enclave focused on the incredible nature of the place, it is essential to look for sustainable ways of respecting and conserving the fauna and flora of the area.

We also want to offer some tips so that you can carry them out on your possible visit to the Falkland Islands or anywhere else. Thus, if you choose to do sustainable tourism in the Falkland Islands, these notes will interest you:

  • Respect animals: avoid participating in tourist claims or activities that do not respect the captive life of these animals.
  • Do not take anything: collaborate in the conservation of the fauna and flora of the place without taking anything that could harm them.
  • Do not leave anything: avoid leaving your waste and those of your companions in the place. Use the bins or, failing that, store the garbage with you until you can dispose of it in the appropriate container. You can also collaborate with the cleaning of the area by collecting the garbage that is thrown wherever you go.
  • It favors the economy and the local gastronomy: try to buy souvenirs or consume sustainable food that favors the local economy.
  • Bet on public transport: choose public transport whenever possible to reduce our carbon footprint.
  • Do not waste resources: for example, turn off the air conditioning when you are not using it or any other electronic device to save energy. Do the same with water and other resources.
  • Make sure your hotel is efficient: Take some time to research if the place where you will be staying is energy efficient. There are classifications that can help you, such as Green Globe or Energy Star.

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