Beauchene Island

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Beauchene Island
Isla Beauchene
Island
Seal hunters in rookery on Beauchene Island, 1833
Seal hunters in rookery on Beauchene Island, 1833
Coordinates: 52°53′11″S 59°12′13″W / 52.88639°S 59.20361°W / -52.88639; -59.20361Coordinates: 52°53′11″S 59°12′13″W / 52.88639°S 59.20361°W / -52.88639; -59.20361
Country  Falkland Islands
Named for named for Jacques Gouin de Beauchêne
Area
 • Total 1.72 km2 (0.66 sq mi)
Highest elevation 70 m (230 ft)
Population (2001)
 • Total 0
 • Density 0.0/km2 (0.0/sq mi)
Time zone FKST (UTC−3)
If shown, area and population ranks are for all islands and all inhabited islands in the Falklands respectively.
Beauchene Island depicted on an 18th-century map, much further west than actual position (R.W. Seale, c. 1745, fragment)

Beauchene Island is the southernmost of the Falkland Islands, lying about 54 kilometres (34 mi) south of Porpoise Point in Lafonia.[1][2] It was discovered in 1701 by Jacques Gouin de Beauchêne in whose honour it was named.

Geography[edit]

Beauchene is the most isolated island of the Falkland archipelago. It is uninhabited, free of introduced predators and, because it is so remote, has been protected from disturbance. It is 172 hectares (430 acres) in area. The north of the island is covered in dense tussac with boulder beaches on the western coast and sloping up gently to about 30 metres (98 ft) in height. In the south of the island the land rises to around 70 metres (230 ft). There are higher cliffs on the eastern coast and the "southern quarter of the island is almost bare of vegetation."[2][3]

The island has a natural anchorage on the east side of the island that only be used in fair weather. There is no resident population and visitors are not permitted on the island without the permission of the Falkland Islands Executive Committee. A typical example was a request that was made by Falklands Conservation to make three visits in October 2010, January 2011 and March 2011 for the purpose of taking a bird census. In their application, it was noted that no people had set foot on the island since a visit by the Shallow Marine Survey Group (SMSG) in December 2009.[4]

History[edit]

Anthony de la Roché may have sighted Beauchene Island as early as April 1675. However, this is by no means certain; de la Roché had been rounding Cape Horn and was blown off course. What he visited is usually said to be South Georgia, which fits his descriptions better, particularly of high ice covered mountains and bays in one of which la Roché anchored for a fortnight (see the Seixas y Lovera narrative), but supporters of Argentina's claim to South Georgia more often claim it was Beauchene.

A while after its official discovery in 1701 by Jacques Gouin de Beauchêne, seal trappers tried to settle the island unsuccessfully.

In 1834, the American McArthur landed 100 people on the island, driving the local sea lions to extinction (they have since returned).[5]

The island is currently uninhabited, but there are ruins of a group of houses built in the 1830s, on the west side of the island.

The first proper scientific expedition landed in 1951 by helicopter, staying for a month.[5]

During the Falklands War, there was an Argentine wreck on a reef just south of the islands, and British soldiers lived for around four weeks there.[5]

Flora and fauna[edit]

The island is a nature reserve. It is covered in tussac grass and is known for its caves and for its peat, which forms at around ten times the rate of anywhere else in the world. The process by which it forms so fast is not understood fully.[citation needed] Apart from the tussac, plants found on the island include Wild Celery, Antarctic Starwort and Bittercress.[6]

The island has been identified by BirdLife International as an Important Bird Area. Over 30 species have been recorded, including Gentoo Penguins (750 breeding pairs), Southern Rockhopper Penguins (60,000 pairs), Macaroni Penguins, Magellanic Penguins, Black-browed Albatrosses (100,000 pairs), Fairy Prions (10,000 pairs), Sooty Shearwaters, Wilson's Storm-petrels, Grey-backed Storm-petrels, Common Diving Petrels, Southern Giant Petrels. Imperial Shags (2500 pairs), Striated Caracaras (65 pairs). Blackish Cinclodes, Cobb's Wrens and White-bridled Finches. South American sea lions breed in small numbers on the island, which is a major haulout site for non-breeding animals.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Shtepenko, Olga; Archer, Samantha; Clark, James (September 2011). "Exploration Drilling: Environmental Impact Statement". Falkland Oil and Gas Ltd. pp. 5–116. Retrieved 4 October 2012. 
  2. ^ a b "Important Bird Areas factsheet: Beauchêne Island". BirdLife International. 2012. Retrieved 3 November 2012. 
  3. ^ White, R W; Gillon, K W; Black, A D; Reid, J B (2002). "The distribution of seabirds and marine mammals in Falkland Islands waters". Peterborough, United Kingdom: Joint Nature Conservation Committee. p. 11. ISBN 1 86107 534 0. Retrieved 5 October 2012. 
  4. ^ Environmental Planning Officer (24 June 2010). "Request to visit Beauchene Island for Falklands Conservation five-year census.". Retrieved 2010-07-26. 
  5. ^ a b c Wolfgang Schippke, DC3MF. "Beauchene Island / Falkland". Retrieved 2010-07-20. "For more details compare W.Schippke,'Der historische Hintergrund des Falklandkrieges von 1982', München 1982" 
  6. ^ a b "Beauchêne Island". Important Bird Areas factsheet. BirdLife International. 2012. Retrieved 2012-09-29.