Sea Lion Island

Travel Guide South America Falkland Islands Sea Lion Island

edit

Introduction

Sea Lion Island is the most southerly inhabited island in the Falkland Islands, located approximately ten miles south of mainland East Falkland. The island has a total area of 2236 acres, and is five miles in length.

Top

edit

History

Sea Lion Island is the southernmost inhabited island of the Falkland Islands. Only formerly inhabited Beauchene Island is located further south. Sea Lion Island Settlement is the southernmost settlement of the Falkland Islands. The island has two airstrips.[citation needed] Historically, Sea Lion Island was a sheep farm. When the British ship Viscount was wrecked in 1892, the wreckage was used to build the farmhouse.

The island was managed as a sheep farm for almost all of the 20th century, but in 1997 all but a small flock of sheep was removed. In 1990, the Clifton family who owned the island, sold it to the Falkland Islands Development Corporation (FIDC). They had planted 60,000 stands of tussac grass.

Since then, ecotourism has been the only economic activity. In 1986 FIDC constructed the Sea Lion Lodge, with accommodation for 20 guests. It was prefabricated and flown in kit form to the island by Royal Air Force helicopters and has proved to be a success. It is used by tourists and, since 1996, scientific researchers. Since 2017 the Lodge and island has been under the lease of Wild Falkland Ltd.

There is a memorial to HMS Sheffield on Bull Hill in the south of the island.

Top

edit

Geography

Sea Lion Island is 7.8 km (4.8 mi) long from east to west and 2.3 km (1.4 mi) wide, with 30 m (98 ft) cliffs at the south-western point and sandy bays to the east. The highest point at 46 m (151 ft) is Bull Hill. East Loafers is the name of the bay on the southern shore. It also has a few ponds, including Beaver and Long Pond. Just to the south is Rum Island, a small seal colony. Other small members of the group are Brandy and Whisky Islands. The geology is mainly sandstone and mudstone, from about 250 million years ago. Some minor fossils have been found.

Top

edit

Sights and Activities

The big attraction of this island is the wildlife. Elephant seals are at their height from September until November, with 540 breeding females having come ashore during the 2003/2004 season. Sea lions breed on the island later in the year, and gentoo penguins, imperial cormorants, rockhopper penguins, magellanic penguins, striated caracaras, and numerous small birds are found throughout the season. Orcas can often be seen offshore, and king penguins may occasionally be found resting ashore.

  • Rockhopper Point - A three mile hike to the west of the lodge on the southern side of the island, Rockhopper point is the home to nearly 500 pairs of rockhopper penguins and a colony of king cormorants. Rock cormorant nest in an impressive natural arch nearby. A memorial to the HMS Sheffield, which sank offshore during the 1982 conflict, is also located here.
  • West End - The far western side of the island is approximately three miles from the lodge. Small birds and the occasional black-crowned night heron can be found around Beaver Pond, which was named for the Beaver planes that once landed here, and not for the more common North American rodent. The shore is home to several species of gulls, and magellanic penguins are found in large numbers in the grassy areas.
  • East End - Less than a kilometer east of the lodge is the main breeding area for more than five thousand gentoo penguins. Further east, a fine white-sand beach and lagoon is the breeding ground of over five hundred female elephant seals. At the far end of the island giant petrels can be found nesting, although due to the skittish nature of these birds viewing is done only from a specially constructed hide.

Top

edit

Getting There

Most visitors arrive to the island using the government air service. The landing strip is dirt but well-maintained, and the old grass strip is still maintained in case of unfavourable winds.

Flying is the most reliable way to the island. Due to rough seas, cruise ship landings (and supply ship visits) are a "hit and miss" proposition.

Top

edit

Eat

The lodge provides full board, and the quality of meals is excellent.

For those who prefer not to return for lunch, packed meals are also available (an added bonus to eating outdoors is the likelihood of dining along side the scavenger birds, caracaras).

Top

edit

Drink

The lodge has a fully stocked honour bar.

Top

edit

Sleep

There is a fully-catered lodge on the island that offers luxury accommodation. The lodge is centrally heated and all rooms have a bathroom and shower. Reservations are required and can be made by contacting sealion_lodge@horizon.co.fk. As of November 2004, rates were £95 per person during the high season (November - March) and £45 per person during the low season (April - October). Further discounts may also be available during the low season for extended stays.

Top

Sea Lion Island Travel Helpers

We don't currently have any Travel Helpers for Sea Lion Island

This is version 2. Last edited at 11:04 on Aug 9, 19 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

Creative Commons License
Except where otherwise noted, content of this article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License