The West Falklands

Nov 24, 2019 - National Geographic Orion

We woke up sailing on choppy seas with northerly winds of 45 knots. As we approached New Island, the team was unsure whether a landing would be possible in those conditions. The situation took a promising turn as National Geographic Orion found shelter and anchored in close proximity to the harbour allowing us to disembark safely onto the beach. Several pairs of kelp geese and oystercatchers were feeding at the shoreline. But the main reason for our landing was to visit a very special bird colony on the west coast of the island. On our way to the colony, we were surprised by some interesting sightings along the walk. We encountered a group of feeding caracaras and turkey vultures, as well as many pairs of nesting upland geese, some walking around with a number of fluffy chicks. When we reached the western side of the island, we found ourselves at the top of the spectacular colony of rockhopper penguins, imperial shags, and black-browed albatross. Brown skuas flew over the colony while penguins, albatross, and shags took care of their eggs. We spend a good bit of time photographing the birds and generally taking in such wonderful experience and close views of the wildlife.

In the afternoon, we visited Carcass Island. As we walked around the island, some of us encountered Magellanic penguins, caracaras, and other shorebirds. We were warmly welcomed by the owners of the farm who offered us an impressive variety of cakes and pastries, with tea and coffee. While we were at it, the undersea team went diving into a breath-taking kelp forest, home of an impressive variety of marine life. Back on board, we were delighted with the footage captured by the divers, as well as with all other recaps prepared by our expedition team.

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About the Author

Clara Fuquen

Naturalist/Expedition Diver

Despite her origins high up in the Andes mountains, Clara has built a career working beneath the surface of the world’s oceans. Being trained as a diver in the Colombian Navy, she began her archaeological career working on the 18th century Spanish shipwreck Conquistador. Working on various underwater and terrestrial archaeological sites in the following years, Clara completed an undergraduate degree in anthropology at the Colombian National University, followed by a Masters degree in Maritime Archaeology in the UK’s Southampton University. Her subsequent PhD research focused on traditional boatbuilding in the remote jungles of Colombia’s pacific coast.

About the Photographer

Peter Webster

Naturalist/Expedition Diver

Born in Scotland, Peter became fascinated with nature and wildlife from a very young age. This early interest led to him earning a degree in conservation biology followed shortly after by an M.Sc in marine and fisheries ecology. He is currently studying for another M.Sc in digital mapping. After working as a commercial diver for several years Peter was offered the position of Field Diving Officer with the British Antarctic Survey in 2012. He then spent the next 16 months in the Antarctic, stationed at Rothera Research Station, on the peninsula where he managed the dive operations and a team of scientific divers working on a wide range of research on climate change, ocean acidification, and increased seabed disturbance by icebergs. As well as diving Peter also spent several months in the Antarctic deep field working in aircraft operations, depot laying, and meteorological work whilst living in tents in conditions below -30oC. 

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