Thursday, 31 January 2013

Exploring Lafonia (Jan. 30, Frithjof)

In flight from Sea Lion Island to Stanley

I am writing today’s blog in the back of a 4WD with Pieter at the steering wheel and Alexandra and Aldo trying to make up for some sleep missed last night. We are heading from Stanley to North Arm, the southernmost settlement in East Falkland, where we had made some very rewarding collections in mid-December 2010. 99% of the roads in the Falklands are unpaved dust and gravel tracks, which makes for some pretty tough driving considering the large distances across the East and West main islands. The southern part of East Falkland is also called Lafonia (after Samuel Fisher Lafone, a wealthy hide and cattle merchant on the Rio de la Plata in the 1840s).
Working up 3 days of collections from Sea Lion Island in our improvised lab in the South Atlantic Environmental Research Institute (SAERI) in historic Stanley Cottage on Stanley’s waterfront (Ross Road) turned into a night shift from 9 pm to 1.30 am! This is not unusual for such expeditions – you spend the days travelling around, diving and working in the field, have a dinner, and then go to the lab. We try to exempt the driver from too much lab work given his tough and responsible job.
Indeed, collections were rewarding: around 40 different seaweed species from 3 days of collecting around the island.

We have just passed the Argentine cemetery, the villages of Darwin and Goose Green, with a brief stop at the grave of Nicholas Taylor, a Harrier pilot shot down over Goose Green in May 1982. Incidentally, he was a friend of Pieter’s neighbour from Monymusk, Aberdeenshire. For our generation and those older than us, the name of the tiny village of Goose Green will forever be associated with the bloody battle that was fought here in May 1982. 31 years on, the memory is still very much alive – there is still a barn marked “PoW” in the village, and the Argentine mine field is still there too – like several others around Stanley.
 Argentine cemetery

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