The conflict has left many marks on the islands, not least of which are the numerous mine fields. Many of the mines laid by the Argentinians during the Falklands conflict were dropped randomly by helicopter and no record of their placing exists. Efforts to clear the minefields have also been hampered by the use of 'plastic' mines which are particularly hard to detect. Consequently, many areas of the Falkland Islands remain out of bounds.
The Falkland Islands remain heavily influenced by the military. Around 2000 service personnel are stationed there - effectively doubling the total population of the Islands. The local people are extremely welcoming and the whole place has a real frontier spirit to it. Admittedly the weather is pretty atrocious at times and it's the only place I know of where the weather forecast includes advice on when to shear sheep to avoid running the risk of them subsequently freezing to death.
Around the coast of the Falkland Islands there are many bird colonies, including those of many penguin and albatross species. Here you can see a colony of blue eyed shags drying their wings and digesting their meals of Southern Ocean fish. Like Penguin rookeries, it's usually easy to find these colonies first by the smell and then by the noise!
Stanley is the main town of the Falkland Islands, its harbour is littered with the hulks of wrecked and abandoned ships. Many date back to the beginning of the century when whaling was in it's heyday and Stanley served as an important staging post for whaling expeditions. The wreck below is that of an old steam powered fishing boat, now abandoned in a sheltered corner of the harbour.
Today most of the fishing boats coming
into Stanley are 'long liners' from Japan and Indonesia. These boats primarily
catch fish and squid using miles of fishing line interspersed with bated hooks.
Unfortunately, aside from the threat this fishing may pose to squid and fish
populations in the Southern Ocean, this method of fishing also leads to the
drowning of many Albatross. The Albatross dive into the water after the baited
hooks/hooked fish, they then become caught on the line and drown. The sheer
number of Albatross deaths resulting from long line fishing is seriously endangering
Albatross populations, and with increasing numbers of long line fishing boats
the outlook is bleak.
The wreck on the left is another of the steam powered boats made redundant by the internal combustion engine. Behind the wreck you can just see one of the many bridges erected by the British Armed Forces after the Falklands conflict. The bay on the other side of this bridge remains out of bounds due to unexploded ordnance.
The impressive wreck on the right is that of an early steel sailing ship abandoned at the eastern end of Stanley harbour. At low tide it is still possible to walk out to the wreck, although beware of all the jagged and rusty edges (and the tide coming in!).
All in all the Falkland Islands are
well worth a visit, with some stunning scenery and amazing wildlife.