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Day 4 - December 24, 2009 - Stanley, The Falkland Islands

By Claudia Holgate, Climatologist

Co-ordinates: 51 o 41’ 17”S 57o 51’ 20”W
Weather: Calm partly overcast conditions, clearing later
Air Temperature: 7.7 C
Pressure: 996HPa
Wind: 44 km/h Northerly wind

It is difficult to top a day like yesterday, what with four different penguin species and Commerson’s Dolphins, not to mention the Black browed albatrosses. Today, however, was to be completely different, with a city visit to Port Stanley (although calling Stanley a city is perhaps a bit grander than it deserves – although it does have a cathedral). Stanley is the Capital of the Falkland Islands.

I was fortunate enough to be able to go on the city tour with the guests and this was an interesting tour of the town and its outskirts. The tour started with us going to the end of the harbour area where we went over Boxers Bridge, a small bridge made by the corp. of engineers during one of the Falklands conflicts. It was here as well that we had a chance to see some of the old shipwrecks in the harbour. The tour took us through the battlefields of the 1982 Falklands conflict where we saw men clearing the minefields left by the Argentines during the war. The Falklands have previously not removed the mines, only fenced off the areas which had been mined, however, now under the Ottawa treaty, all countries are responsible for demining areas with landmines, so the mammoth task of finding and removing mines has begun.

We also went past the six wind turbines that the Falklands use to power Stanley. Three of the turbines are new, so currently only three are operational and yet with these three turbines they can generate thirty percent of Stanley’s electricity requirements. Being involved with climate change, I am really encouraged that wind energy is being taken seriously as it does much to eliminate the carbon emissions from bringing fossil fuels. Even yesterday’s excursion to West Point Island showed us the Napier family uses a windmill to generate most of their energy.

We came back to town via the museum, which was a fascinating mix of history and historical artifacts as well as the natural history of the Falklands, with some truly excellent displays. The twenty minutes we had there was not enough for me to take in everything and there was still plenty that I would have loved to look at more in-depth. This would have been possible if guests wanted to walk back from the pier, as there was plenty of time in the afternoon to explore on one’s own. There were a number of stops on the way, including a collection of whale skeletons in a private collection and a memorial to those who lost their lives in the 1982 conflict.

Our final stop was the Cathedral, which is a small church, but with beautiful stained glass windows. For me, the most striking part is the archway made out of four blue whale jaw bones, which are at least two and a half or three times the size of an average person. It reminds me how insignificant we are next to these magnificent creatures.

Well, it was nearly 4pm and we had to get back to the ship to prepare for the day’s Recap before another superb meal prepared by our executive chef Douglas. After dinner we had a fun time in the Panorama Lounge with Conrad hosting a “Newlyweds game” basically finding out how well couples know each other. It was a great deal of fun and eventually we retired to bed after another good day on the Prince Albert II.

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