12 days till Christmas - reflections from a leadership journey for Women and non-binary in STEM focusing on sustainability, climate change and global challenges- culminating in an expedition and leadership journey to Antarctica
Saunders Island, The Falklands. Top R-L: Beach view, King Penguin, Blue-eyed Shagged and Rockhopper Penguin colony, Bottom R-L: King Penguin Chick, view to Beach and yellow lichen, Gentoo Penguin. November 16th, 2023.
I know perhaps more than many of the other global participants on our journey about the Falkland Islands. It is a childhood vision that evokes bleak pictures in my head of peat moorland, war, trauma, suffering - bleakness and desolation. They are home; well a funny kind of home stuck in the past with red telephone boxes and patched-up Defender Land Rovers, but also they are different; foreign. The islands are very Scottish in many respects, some we visit are distinctly like the Shetland’s and many of the islanders I speak to have Scottish connections.
But I am surprised. When you look at the map the initial impression is of two islands, East and West and this is what I have in my head. But the full archipelago of island jewels I had not previously appreciated. Approaching from the Northwest small islands are what we come across first. The tiny Island of Steeple Jason is home to the largest concentration of nesting Black-browed Albatross on Earth, it's the second largest colony of any Albatross species. There are an estimated 180,000 nesting pairs on Steeple Jason and from our ship they are seen as a plethora of white dots from sea level upwards. With visits to New Island and Saunders Island my impression of the Falkland Islands is reformed from bleakness to beauty. We are blessed with blue skies, King Penguin chicks and Rockhoppers hanging out on Scottish like beaches - it’s a surreal combination.
Our day in Stanley is more in line with my expectations. Horizontal rain, grey skies, peat hags and the remnants of war. Beauty and desoltaion go hand-in-hand in the Falklands.
Stanley, Falkland Islands: red telephone boxes, remnants of war, beautiful beaches and horizontal rain. November 17th, 2023
My misconceptions and biases are predominant in my mind, as we make a hurried exit to secure safe access out of the narrow natural harbour of Port Stanley. The cross winds strengthen, and we head South towards greater uncertainty.