There are several thousand freshwater ponds and lakes in the Falkland Islands, along with many streams and small rivers. Coastal ponds are generally more fertile, more profilic in aquatic vegetation and attract large numbers of duck and grebe. The Falklands have several significant river systems, the most important among them being the Murrell, Malo and San Carols rivers on East Falkland and the Warrah and Chartres rivers on West Falkland. These rivers are rain fed, sometimes peat stained and relatively acidic. Many streams, where they cross the heath lowlands at the base of small valleys, are often bordered by rich green swards with extensive areas of brown swamp rush, tall rush and small rush. Accumulations of peat are widespread but there are no large areas of blanket or bog areas.
Swans, geese and ducks form the most numerous family of birds in the Falkland Islands. 22 species have been recorded. The 14 resident birds are:
Photo: Allan White
Falkland Steamer Duck
Flying Steamer Duck
Speckled Silver Teal
Chloephaga hybrida malvinarum
Chloephaga picta leucoptera
Lophonetta spectalariodes spectalariodes
Anas georgica spinicauda
Anas versicolor fretensis
Photo: Allan White
All but one of the Falkland species are powerful flying birds that also breed in southern South America but there is no firm evidence that Falkland breeding waterfowl migrate. The Falkland Steamer Duck, an endemic species that has short wings and a very heavy body, cannot achieve free flight. The four geese belong to a strictly southern South American group known as sheldgeese. Upland, Ruddy-headed, Ashy-headed (a vagrant) and the female Kelp Geese all have similar black and white wing patterns. Visit our shop for bird guides (Birds and Mammals of the Falkland Islands gives full details of all these birds, and more)
There are two explicitly freshwater fish species native to the Islands:
The Zebra Trout Aplochiton zebra
Go here to find out more about the native zebra trout
The Falklands Minnow Galaxias maculatus
Three primarily marine species are itinerant invaders of Falklands fresh waters: the Falklands mullet Eleginops maclovinus, and two species of atherinid ‘smelt’, Odontesthes smittii and O. nigricans.
The European and British brown trout Salmo trutta
Introduced into the Islands in the 1960s, is now one of the most widespread and commonly encountered freshwater fishes in the Islands.
Click here for more information about recreational fishing in the Falklands
Although only a few aquatic insect species are found on the Islands, they are common in freshwater where predatory fish are not present. The most numerous insects are the tiny larvae of flies, especially non-biting midges. These are preyed upon by water beetles, which can be found swimming freely in most freshwater but seem particularly abundant in small ponds. Water boatmen also favour small ponds, where they feed on algae. The larvae of caddis-flies also graze on algae and can be found in great numbers on both ponds and stream beds. Caddis-fly larvae construct protective tubes from a variety of debris including sand, pond-weed and dead vegetation. The adult caddis-flies are generally found perched on vegetation by stream/pond banks. The only other common insects to be found in freshwater are the larvae of stoneflies. These can be found on the underside of rocks submerged in running water.