Authored by Kathryn Michie
Our time in the Falkland Islands has been full of surprises – extreme weather, gale force winds, and sheep sharing the beach with King Penguins.
Looking over the windswept Gypsy Bay of Stanley (the capital of the Falklands) and appreciating the last green and yellow plants that we will see for a while, I reflected on how we often overlook some of the most important parts of ecosystems.
Like tussac grass: unremarkable at first glance, it is one of the most important species in the Falklands, providing critical food and a home for many bird species (and seals!). Growing to three metres and around 200 years old.
As we sail into the Drake Passage, bound for the Antarctic Peninsula and a world dominated by blue, grey and white, I’m so excited to learn from my Homeward Bound colleagues about some of the less charismatic species in Antarctica. We have experts on this voyage who study benthic fauna (that is, the species that live on the ocean floor) as well as the delicate moss and lichens we may find (providing rare glimpses of green!). And of course, krill, the unsung hero and foundation of the Antarctic food chain is so vulnerable to climate change and overexploitation. Without these species, we wouldn’t see the incredible whales and penguins that we all love!
Photo: Sheep and King Penguins on the same beach (Saunders Beach, Falkland Islands). Credit: Kathryn Michie
Photo: The most important creature in Antarctica – krill. Credit: Kathryn Michie