Bleaker Island

Bleaker Island
Bleaker Island

Bleaker Island is one of the Falkland Islands, lying off south east Lafonia (the southern peninsula of East Falkland). The name is a corruption of “Breaker Island” due to the waves that break on it. It was also known as “Long Island” at one point.
The island lies close to the southeastern coast of East Falkland. It is low lying and at least 18km long with a maximum width of 2km.
The predominant vegetation is dwarf shrub heath and greens.

The island was previously known as Long Island and Breaker Island on account of it acting as a natural wave break to Adventure Sound.
The low silhouette of the island and its neighbours may well account for Bleaker’s rich history of shipwrecks. In the first twenty years of the 20th century five ships were lost at Bleaker Island.
Bleaker Island has been a sheep farm for over a hundred years, and was owned by Arthur Cobb in the early 20th century who wrote a book on the subject, containing 46 of his own black and white photographs.

It has been run as an organic sheep and cattle farm by Mike and Phyll Rendell (absentee landlords) since 1999, and has the small Bleaker Island Settlement located on an isthmus in the centre of its length.
They built a house there in 2000 called “the Outlook”, and employ a farming couple who live there.


 

Tourism

Penguins on Bleaker Island
Penguins on Bleaker Island

Visitors can enjoy a large amount of wildlife in a very compact area and the wildlife sites of most interest are all conveniently located close to the settlement.
The highlight of the island is the rockhopper penguin colony of some 750 pairs situated only a short walk from the cottage.
Further south a gentoo penguin colony and scattering of Magellanic penguins can be found. Long Gulch is fringed with tussac grass which attracts many smaller birds such as grass and Cobb’s wrens, and around 9000 pairs of king cormorants form the main seabird colonies along the cliff tops.

The islands ponds are home to white-tufted and silver grebes, Chiloe widgeon, speckled and silver teal, as well as the occasional black-necked swan. At least 37 species of bird are known to breed on the island. Striated caracaras, southern sea lions and elephant seals are regular visitors from nearby Sea Lion Island or the small offshore tussac islands. The open country and long sandy beaches of Bleaker Island offer some great hiking opportunities during which visitors should also look out for some of the local vegetation such as the yellow orchid, the attractive dog orchid and the lady’s slipper.

The purpose-built Cobb’s Cottage (named after one of the islands previous owners) offers self-catering accommodation to five people in two twin rooms and one single room. A sixth person can be accommodated in a pull-out bed. Equipped with central heating, a gas cooker, fridge, 24-hour electricity, TV, radio, hi-fi, bath and shower, the cottage offers an extremely comfortable stay to its guests and all just minutes walk away from the wildlife. All bed linen and towels are provided. Full board accommodation can be provided on special request.


 

Bleaker Island Survey

Bleaker Island Map
Map of Bleaker Island – Click to enlarge

Falklands Conservation organized a survey visit from 11 – 16 November 2003 to Bleaker Island as part of the British Schools Exploring Society expedition ‘Footsteps of Shackleton’.
A party of 30 took part, including 21 Young Explorers aged 17 to 24 years, under the overall leadership of Brigadier David Nicholls, RM.

Three volunteers from Falklands Conservation, Robin Woods, Philippa Thompson and Montana Short, joined the Expedition to provide local knowledge and expertise in the identification of local flora and fauna.

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