Saunders Island

One of the largest islands in the Falklands, Saunders Island lies in the northwest of the archipelago and has been farmed since 1948

Saunders Island

Region: Antarctica

Destinations: Falkland Islands

The size and citizens of Saunders Island

Saunders Island measures roughly 20 by 20 km (12.4 by 12.4 miles) and has its highest point as Mt. Richards, which stands 457 meters (1,499 feet). In a small settlement named simply “The Settlement” live the owners of the island, the Pole-Evans family, who make up the island’s total population of seven.

Saunders Island’s historic inhabitants

The first British settlement in the Falklands set up here in 1765―66 at port Egmont. By 1770, however, the garrison was forced to leave under Spanish force. A group of French soldiers following Louis-Antoine de Bougainville built the first French settlement, Port Louis, in Berkeley Sound.

They named the islands “Les Iles Malouines” after their hometown of San Malo, but for diplomatic reasons they sold the islands to the Spanish in 1766. For many years the Spanish ruled the islands as their own, but in 1833 the British returned and took them back again.

The bird life (and rat life) of Saunders Island

A rich diversity of wildlife flourishes on Saunders Island. One of the most prized attractions is the large black-browed albatross colony there, packed with about 11,000 breeding pairs. These seabirds are decent fliers but sometimes have trouble landing, which we can observe near their nesting sites.

Four species of penguins also live on Saunders: Rockhopper penguins, king penguins, Magellanic penguins, and gentoo penguins. An abundance of small birds―Falkland thrushes and dark-faced ground tyrants―thrive alongside the rat population here, too.

The striated caracara can also be seen on Saunders Island. An endangered species in many other places around the world, it still thrives in the Falklands and is a favorite among bird watchers.

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