Matt & Emmy in Antarctica & Easter Island travel blog

Woolly Gut Channel in the Falklands

Carcass Island

Matt on Carcass Island

Our first penguin spotting - a Magellanic Pengin on Carcass Island

A Rock Hopper penguin on New Island

We were awaked early today over the ship's PA system. Our trip leader informed us that we had arrived at the western Falkland Islands and were about to pass through a narrow channel called the "Woooly Gut." We viewed this spectacular passage from the deck of the ship. Since last night, the seas have picked up considerably and the wind was in the 30-40 knot range.

We arrived at Carcass Island mid-morning and made our first zodiac landing after breakfast. Riding the zodiacs is interesting to say the least - it's about 10 passengers plus one crew member to operate the boat. It is a large black rubber boat, open topped with a 60 hp outboard motor, which is apparently ideally suited for landings in the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and Antarctica - there are rarely piers at any of these places.

Carcass Island, despite it's colorful name, is a barren place free of carcasses (it was named after a British ship, the HMS Carcass, which discovered it. We went for a long walk along the spine of this 3 mile long island, and we saw many local sea birds. However, the highlight of the stay was undoubtedly seeing our first penguin of the trip, a Magellanic penguin spotted right by the beach. This island is inhabited by one family, who farms it and raises sheep, but whose primary source of income is likely tourism now. We were told that about 30 ships of various sizes visit each year, all hosted by the family for tea and cake.

After returning via Zodiac to the Endeavour, we had lunch and sailed to New Island, another island on the western edge of the Falklands. This island is downright packed with people compared to Carcass Island - TWO families live here and run the island jointly as a nature preserve, again benefiting from the increase in tourism in recent years. We hiked to the far side of this island and were treated to seeing nesting colonies of sea birds and rock hopper penguins, all perched precariously on the cliff overlooking the South Atlantic. This was quite a photo opportunity Emmy and I witnessed a local scavenger bird, called the "Johnny Rook" - a type of raptor - in a standoff with a couple of penguins defending their eggs. The male penguin and the Johnny Rook stared at each other for about 10 minutes before the Johnny Rook decided to go elsewhere for easier hunting.

Upon our return to the trip, we had a "daily recap" meeting, which is a tradition on Lindblad ships - summarizing what we had seen that day and what we would expect for the next day. Also frequently included in the daily recaps are information from the various scientists onboard. Lindblad has several naturalists on staff, and additionally they provide space for scientists from a nonprofit called Oceanites who study penguins. Tonight's daily recap included video highlights from the underwater specialist onboard, who did a dive earlier today with a camera so we could see all the life under the surface of the water.

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