Sea Lion Island

Sealion Lodge

Sea Lion Lodge

Sea Lion Island is situated eight miles south east of Lafonia (East Falkland). There is a small settlement on the island and two airstrips.
Historically, Sea Lion Island was a sheep farm and a base for slaughtering penguins to render for oil.
When the British ship Viscount was wrecked in 1892, the debris was used to build the farmhouse.

Sheep farming is much declined, and in recent years, ecotourism has come to dominate. In 1990, the Clifton family who owned the island, sold it to the Falkland Island Development Company.
They had planted 60,000 stands of tussac grass. There is also a memorial to HMS Sheffield on Bull Hill in the south of the island.

Fortunately, Sea Lion Island is free from introduced predators such as cats, rats and mice which would otherwise threaten the many varieties of ground nesting birds on the island.
The island has also been designated as a National Nature Reserve and as a Ramsar Site (The International Convention for the Protection of Wetlands, particularly as habitat for waterfowl).
Sea Lion Island is a long narrow island, with cliffs on the “West End”, and also a few ponds, such as Beaver, and Long Pond. Just to the south is Rum Island, a small seal colony.

East Loafers is the name of the bay on the south shore. Bull Hill is the highest point at around 150ft/46m.
The geology is mainly sandstone and mudstone, from about 250 million years ago. Some minor fossils have been found.

Website: www.sealionisland.com


 

Flora & Fauna

Sealion Island

Sea Lions on Sealion Island

The native flora of Sea Lion Island has been closely studied and some of the species found are endemic to the Falkland Islands. Species of particular note include:
Viola magellanica which has been found nowhere else in the archipelago.
The scarce freshwater reed Schoenoplectus californicus is found in Long Pond and is important for Silvery Grebe.
Rumex magellanicus a scarce native recently rediscovered in the Falklands and which had not been recorded since 1856.
Large stands of Poa flabellata which forms a nationally important habitat (Tussac) of high wildlife value.

Birdslife
The Sea Lion Islands Group has been identified by BirdLife International as an Important Bird Area. It is a significant breeding site for a variety of seabirds and other waterbirds including Falkland steamer ducks, ruddy-headed geese, gentoo penguins (2800 pairs), southern rockhopper penguins (480 pairs), Magellanic penguins, southern giant-petrels (25 pairs) and sooty shearwaters. It also supports populations of striated caracaras (10 pairs), blackish cinclodes, Cobb’s wrens and white-bridled finches.


 

History

Sealion Island Map

Map of Sea Lion Island – Click to enlarge

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. Historically, Sea Lion Island was a sheep farm and a base for slaughtering penguins to render for oil.
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, 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.
There is a memorial to HMS Sheffield on Bull Hill in the south of the island.

 

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