Twenty-two stranded false killer whales (Pseudorca crassidens) were recorded in February 2013 at Fitzroy, East Falkland. A further 30 individuals were seen swimming in the shallow waters adjacent to the stranded group. During a subsequent visit this group had moved back into the safety of deep water. This is the first documented record of false killer whales in the Falkland Islands, and a rare sighting for the region.
False killer whales are oceanic dolphins (despite the name) and generally range within warmer waters between latitudes 50° north and south. They are mainly deep water species with little really known about them in the wild. Deep water, oceanic cetaceans that stray into shallow coastal waters can become disorientated by unfamiliar features and are vulnerable to beaching themselves.
Samples have now been sent away for genetic testing which will help reveal more about the population structure of this species in the Atlantic Ocean.
The climate of the Falkland Islands is changing. 136 years of records show seasonal rainfall has declined and over 50 years of sunshine records show significant increases in mean summer sunshine and temperature. Increased drought periods will decrease soil water content, threaten plant growth and are likely to place increased stress on the shallow peat soils of the Islands already prone to drying out and erosion. This in turn could have a profound impact on plant community diversity, pasture growth, water availability and ultimately the potential of soils to sequester carbon.
The EU BEST-funded project entitled 'TEFRA – Terrestrial Ecosystems of the Falklands – a Climate Change Risk Assessment' aims to increase our understanding of and address these potential threats. The project started in January 2013 and is being led by Dr Rebecca Upson (RBG Kew and former Falklands Conservation botanist) and Professor Jim McAdam (UK Falkland Islands Trust) in partnership with Falklands Conservation and the Falkland Islands Government.
The position will be responsible for creating a GIS and Data Management Centre for the United Kingdom South Atlantic Overseas Territories (UK SA OTs) of Ascension Island, St Helena, Tristan da Cunha, Falkland Islands and South Georgia. The job will be based at the South Atlantic Environmental Research Institution, Stanley, Falkland Islands, for a two year period in the first instance.
Modern day plant hunters are quite possibly as rare as the rare and undiscovered species they search for. The famous plant hunters of the 18th and 19th centuries such as Banks and Hooker travelled across the globe to discover new plants for science – so is it possible to be a plant hunter in the modern day?
FALKLANDS CONSERVATION's Watch Group win runners up in RSPB Best Youth Group Award 2012.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) judges were impressed by the children's appreciation of the wildlife and the many various activities and trips they did. The group is the only RSPB junior group that has regular trips encountering wild penguins.