Falklands Outdoors Environmental Guidelines
As part of our tours you will have the opportunity to experience the amazing wildlife up close. The sea kayak, 4wd vehicle or hiking all offer fantastic platforms from which to see penguins, seabirds, seals, and even whales and dolphins in their natural habitat. We believe this is an amazing privilege, but with this freedom comes responsibility.
In our enthusiasm to see wildlife, we can accidentally cause disturbance without realising it. A good way to minimise our impact on coastal and marine life is to learn more about it. Knowing the breeding season of birds and seals, for instance, will help us to avoid getting too close when they are most sensitive to our presence.
A good principle is: If the wildlife appears to be agitated, then you are too close.
Seabirds and Penguins
These are most vulnerable when the adults are hatching the eggs and with young chicks. If they are suddenly scared off their nests or ledges, they may lose their young, which may fall or be taken by predators. Their most vulnerable time is October-December. It is important to keep your distance and move by quietly and steadily so as not to panic the birds. Some penguins such as the king penguin at this time of year spend time malting after breeding the previous year. These penguins are extremely vulnerable as they must spend an extended period out of the water without feeding. They must conserve as much energy as possible so it’s extremely important that they are not panicked into energy wasting unnecessary movement.
Shingle shores: Terns, Plovers and Oyster Catchers all nest on shingle beaches. Care should be taken not to disturb nesting birds on these sites between early October-December. The eggs and chicks are very well camouflaged against the shingle and are easily trodden underfoot.
Sand dunes: Take care during stops not to damage vegetation, which is important for stabilizing dunes and helping them grow. Avoid open fires, which damage the dry vegetation.
Beaches with small pups on them must be avoided, as a sudden disturbance can lead to pups being squashed in the panic or separated from their parents. Seals lying on rocks are resting. If disturbed their rush to enter the water can result in injury and in the case of pregnant seals, the loss of the pup. It is important to stay well clear.
What can you do:
- Bring a reusable water bottle on all our tours.
- Follow the Falklands countryside (camp) code. https://admin.falklandsconservation.com/app/uploads/2018/06/Countryside-code.pdf
- Be aware of the Falklands wildlife breeding cycles and sensitive times of the year. Falklands wildlife calendar https://admin.falklandsconservation.com/app/uploads/2019/06/wildlife-calendar-2019.pdf
- Recycle when possible.
- Try to leave the countryside tidier than you found it.
- Enjoy the Falklands and ensure that your actions do not detract from the enjoyment of those who follow.
- Donate at Falklands conservation! Click here for details https://www.falklandsconservation.com/one-off-donations or adopt a penguin, https://www.falklandsconservation.com/adoptions
On the water
- Avoid panicking breeding seabirds into flight- your group leader will brief you on the procedures they plan to use to avoid disturbance.
- Never land on a beach with a colony of breeding seals, except in an emergency.
- Be aware of burrows and avoid getting too close or walking over them.
- On sand dunes always look and listen for birds.
- Consider your possible impact on wildlife when camping.
- Be careful in your toilet hygiene. Do not urinate within 30 metres of fresh water.
- Do not leave behind any food scraps, as these attract scavenging animals and birds.
Grass fires are a major threat to all types of wildlife. When visiting tussock islands all types of fire sources, including smoking, must be prohibited. Any use of cookers and campfires must be closely monitored, and great care must be taken to ensure that fire sources are extinguished after use.
While kayaking, although not all points are relevant to the wildlife of the Falklands, we follow the British Canoeing national code of practice, written in conjunction with the RSPB. https://www.britishcanoeing.org.uk/uploads/documents/You-Your-Canoe-and-the-Marine-Environment.pdf