Lively Island

Lively Island
Lively Island

Lively Island is situated east of East Falkland. It is the largest rat-free island in the Falklands, hence important to birdlife and is home to a sheep farm.
The Spanish name, “Isla Bougainville” (like Port Louis) is named after the French navigator Louis de Bougainville who established the first settlement in the archipelago in the 1760s.

Lively Island has an area of 5,585 hectares (13,800 acres). Its highest point is 37 metres (121 ft). There are several streams and ponds, the largest of which is Enderby Pond, 7 hectares (17 acres), an important waterfowl site. Lively is rat-free but with a century and a half of grazing little tussock remains and there are many large patches of eroded ground.[1]

Lively Island is surrounded by other, smaller islands and islets in the Lively Island group. Some of these Islets are linked to Lively Island by sandbars. North East Island which is just 350 metres (380 yd) off the coast of Lively, was the site of a rat eradication programme in 2003. (The rest of the Lively islands are rat free.)

The Lively Island group has been identified by BirdLife International as an Important Bird Area (IBA). Birds for which the site is of conservation significance include Falkland steamer ducks, ruddy-headed geese, gentoo penguins (650 breeding pairs), Magellanic penguins, southern giant petrels (40 pairs), white-bridled finches, blackish cinclodes and Cobb’s wrens.


The Battle of Seal Cove

The Battle of Seal Cove was a minor naval skirmish west of Lively Island, during the 1982 Falklands war.
On May 22, 1982, while supporting Operation Sutton off San Carlos Bay, the British frigates HMS Brilliant and HMS Yarmouth received orders to stop and seize the Argentinian coastal supply boat ARA Monsunen.
The Monsunen was actually a small British vessel captured in the course of the Argentinian invasion. The ship was known to be sailing from Fox Bay towards Stanley with a cargo of 150 fuel drums and 250 flour sacks.

HMS Yarmouth F101
HMS Yarmouth

The Battle
On the very first hours of May 23, a Sea Lynx identified the Monsunen while the latter was heading to the north, west of Lively Island.
After a surrender order was radioed to the motorboat, another helicopter transporting a SBS team tried to intercept her.

The aircraft was greeted with heavy machine gun and small arms fire, so it was forced to abort the mission. At the same time, the coastal ship’s radar detected the British squadron about 8 miles to stern and approaching aggressively.

Almost immediately, the Yarmouth began to fire her 4.5 inch (114 mm) deck gun on the Argentinian vessel, forcing her to manoeuvre in order to avoid the incoming rounds. When the distance fell to 4 miles, Captain Gopcevich, the Argentinian commander, decided that the only way to deceive the British radar was to beach the boat on Seal Cove, a large inlet nearby.

Shortly after he succeeded in running aground his ship and ordering the crew to abandon her, the British shelling resumed. The fire was inaccurate and aimed at the general area of landing. In the process of evacuating the vessel, one of the ratings fell overboard and suffered some serious bruises, but was successfully rescued by a young sailor. The crew members took refuge in an improvised inland shelter.

The Aftermath
After effectively losing the track of their small enemy, the British frigates gave up and returned to San Carlos waters.
At dawn, the Monsunen , with her engine still running, was found by her complement, apparently after refloating by the raising tide. However, a sling had became entangled with her propeller, disabling the transmission. With the ship’s speed now reduced to only four knots, Gopcevich radioed for help to Stanley, so a few hours later, another British trawler seized by the Argentinians, the ARA Forrest, towed the Monsunen to Port Darwin. She was later recovered there by British forces on May 29, after the Battle of Goose Green.

The so needed cargo was uploaded to the Forrest, which made for Stanley. The coaster successfully completed Monsunen’s relief mission on May 25. This incident is thought to be the only naval encounter between armed ships in the war.