Falkland Islands wildlife is one of the major draws to this South Atlantic archipelago. The natural beauty, untouched wildlife, and array species was actually one of the sources of inspiration for Charles Darwin's theory of evolution that was later published as On the Origin of Species; Darwin undertook a zoological study here in 1834. The wildlife is spread throughout the islands and is quite varied. With more than 220 species of birds to see, including the famous Falkland Island penguins, as well as various seals and sea lions, travelers who enjoy observing wildlife will find the Falklands to be a delight. Guests here have the option of exploring the Falkland Islands wildlife independently in the conservation areas or to embark on a Falklands wildlife tour with one of the many knowledgeable local guides.
The Falkland Island penguins are perhaps the most loved and most observed wildlife on the islands. There are various types of penguins that inhabit the islands. For instance, the King and Gentoo penguins can be observed year-round, as they colonize at large and small areas throughout the Falklands. Volunteer Point is the major King colony, and penguins of all ages can be found here. During the winter months, the chicks are born and can be seen waddling around the colonies. The three other species of Falkland Island penguins are Magellanic, Rockhopper, and Macaroni. These species are migratory and are found on the archipelago during the summer months, while their chicks can be seen during December and March.
In addition to the playful penguins there are various other varieties of birds and mammals to see. Some of the Falkland Islands wildlife that make home here are rare and endangered, while others are more common. The islands are home to fascinating creatures, including the black-browed albatross, the Cobb's wren, striated cara-cara, and the Falklands flightless steamer duck. All of these bird species can be found in populated and secluded areas and make for great photo opportunities.
The mammals that inhabit the Falkland Islands tend to be concentrated around the coast and in the waters surrounding the archipelago. The sea lions and seals have the largest colonies and are present almost all year. Fur seals are the most numerous, though the leopard seal is also seen occasionally. Whales and dolphins are frequently sighted off the coast. Peale's and Commerson's dolphins are very friendly and are often found following boats. Orcas are also a regular sight, as they stake out the large seabird and seal colonies, and species of whales including sperm and humpback are often seen in the summer.
The majority of Falkland Islands wildlife is found along the coast and in the water, as the only native land mammal of the islands, the Warrah fox, is now extinct. Other mammals on the islands tend to be somewhat reclusive, but they can be found. Brown hares, imported from Europe, are the most common mammal and can sometimes be observed out in the open. The islands have also imported reindeer and the Patagonian grey fox, which can be seen on Weddell Island. The guanaco, also imported from Patagonia, is found on Staats Island. Although the land mammal population of the Falkland Islands is relatively small, visitors will enjoy the varied species found on the different islands.
If you are looking to take a Falklands wildlife tour, there are plenty of options to choose from. Many visitors opt for a narrated boat tour along the coast of the Islands to observe the penguins, seals, dolphins, and whales. The best time for a boat tour is the summer months, between October and March, when the majority of the species are out and the temperature is more mild. There are also local guides for hire if you prefer to do your Falklands wildlife tour on land. Hiking and 4-by-4 tours are the most common ways for seeing the local wildlife. If you are certain you want your stay in the Falkland Islands to be centered on the wildlife, you can opt to book an organized trip with a travel company. These trips usually include stops in Stanley, Darwin, and various other smaller islands that are home to penguins, seals, and other mammals.
The Falkland Islands wildlife and unspoiled landscape are two of the major attractions that this unique destination offers. With the variety of penguins, birdlife and sea mammals, visitors will be captivated for days on end. Whether you are looking to explore on your own or with a guided tour, visitors will truly enjoy the wildlife oasis that is preserved here.