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Introduction

New Island is in the western part of the Falkland Islands, nearly 150 miles (240 km) from Stanley. From 1977 to 2006 the island was divided into two properties: New Island South, managed and run as a nature reserve by the New Island South Conservation Trust; and New Island North, run by Tony Chater. However in July 2006 The New Island South Conservation Trust acquired the northern part of the island also, and now runs the entire island as a reserve. Ian Strange, a wildlife conservationist, author and photographer manages the island on behalf of the trust.

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History

New Island was one of the earliest of the Falkland Islands to be colonised, and American whalers may have arrived as early as the 1770s. Two place names on or near the island, Coffin's Harbour and Coffin's Island, commemorate the Coffin family of Nantucket. Nearby Quaker, Barclay, Fox and Penn islands reflect the New England and Quaker provenance of some of the earliest settlers.

In 1813, Captain Charles H. Barnard, from Nantucket, was marooned with his crew on the island. They survived on the island for two years, and constructed a crude stone building, which is probably incorporated into the Barnard Building, the oldest standing building in the Falklands and now a museum restored in 2006. In December 1814 Indispensable, William Buckle, master, and Asp, John Kenny, master, rescued them.

In 1823, Antarctic explorer Captain James Weddell anchored at the island, and commented on its excellent harbours and its natural food and water supplies. In the 1850s and 60s, the island's guano deposits were mined.

The Norwegian whaling company Ørnen, controlled by Christen Christensen of Sandefjord, sent the first modern floating whaling factory, Admiralen, to New Island in 1905. The vessel arrived on 24 December, but during one month of operation only 40 whales (24 fin, 12 sei, 3 sperm, and 1 humpback) were caught. Admiralen proceeded to Admiralty Bay in the South Shetland Islands to look for blue and right whales, thus becoming the first floating factory to operate in the Antarctic.

From 1908, the Scottish company Chr. Salvesen operated a land based whaling station under the name New Whaling Company. A transport vessel and a whale catcher arrived on 22 December and brought a decommissioned land station from Fáskrúðsfjörður in Iceland. The first whale was caught on 16 January 1909, with 226 whales (215 sei) being caught the first season. Results were unsatisfactory though, with the station last operating in 1915. Of the reported catch, over 900 were sei whales (about two-thirds of the total). Remains of the station is still visible.

The island holds the shipwreck of a sealing vessel, the Protector III, which beached in 1969.

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Sights and Activities

The island is relatively small, but boasts a large colony of rockhopper penguins and black-browed albatrosses on the cliffs opposite the settlement on the western side of the island. The colony can be reached by an easy half mile trail from the settlement. The eastern half of the island slopes more gently into the sea and is home to magellanic penguins, gentoo penguins, oystercatchers, and numerous other bird species. Peale's Porpoises will frequently accompany zodiacs into shore and may even swim into knee-deep water to investigate visitors. Falkland fur seals and southern sea lions may be seen around the island, and whale sightings (minke, fin, sei and southern right whale species) are frequent during the animals' migration in the summer months.

The island has a great history with the remnants of an old 1908 whaling station on New Island South, the still-standing wreck of an old mine sweeper beached near the settlement, and the newly-restored stone building, 'The Barnard Building' - part of which was built as a shelter by Captain Charles Barnard, a North American Whaling captain who was marooned on New Island for 2 years in 1812.

The island's scenery is second to none - the sheer sea cliffs on the island's western coastline are absolutely spectacular, and the clean white sand beaches of the eastern shoreline lead into crystal clear turquoise waters teeming with marine life.

After dusk, a true wildlife spectacle may be seen just metres from the houses in the small settlement with thousands of thin-billed prions returning to their burrows under the cover of darkness. These birds turn the sky into a mass of calling birds, each looking for their partner on land. Similarly spectacular are the night skies - the clarity of the atmosphere, and the complete lack of light pollution make New Island one of the best spots in the world to view the stars and planets with unrivalled visibility.

The entire island may be walked by foot with only a moderate level of fitness required to visit some spectacular sites. The cliffs that border the western side of the island plunge a sheer 600 ft into the sea where seals, dolphins, petrels, albatross, and even whales can regularly be seen. On the eastern side of the island the white sand beaches provide total tranquility and relaxation. Since the wildlife is incredibly tame the island is truly a wildlife photographer's paradise.

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Getting There

The majority of visitors to New Island arrive by cruise ship. In order to reduce disturbance and impact to the island's wildlife and natural environment, New Island only allows the relatively small cruise vessels (Max. 150-200 passengers) to visit the island. The cruise ships that visit usually stop at the southern half of the island for approximately three hours, allowing visitors to take a walk to the rockhopper penguin, black-browed albatross and king cormorant colony.

For visitors who wish to visit New Island for an overnight stay or longer, access to the island is from Stanley, via small 8-seater Islander aircraft. There are self-contained facilities in the form of A-Frames on New Island South which are available at certain times. However, availability of accommodation is very restricted due to much of the accommodation being used for field workers and scientists working on the New Island South Reserve.

To find out if an overnight stay is possible, contact Ian Strange via the New Island South Conservation Trust.

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Eat

There is no food available on the island; all supplies must be brought along. Drinking water may be obtained (with permission) from the settlement.

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Sleep

New Island South has self-contained accommodation that may be available at certain times during the summer season (roughly October through to March). There are 2 self-contained A-frame buildings with basic facilities. Please contact the Trust's Warden for availability at a particular time.

Although the island is primarily a destination for the outdoors type, camping by general visitors is not permitted on New Island South due to the risks of very unpredictable weather, and the high risk of fire on the Island.

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This is version 2. Last edited at 11:08 on Aug 9, 19 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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