Lagoon News

Referendum in 2013After a couple of difficult seasons with an increase in cruise ship cancellations due to bullying from the Argentine government, the future is looking more positive with ships coming back fully next season and a major cruise line returning in 2015, after a five year gap.

The Falkland Island Government held a Referendum in 2013 where we showed the world our desire to remain British (99.8% in favour), journalists galore arrived in the islands, though during Prince William’s helicopter posting here we had come accustomed to the world’s media.

Toby appeared in the British press and we were interviewed by various news channels.

Falklands resident Kevin Kilmartin explains why he thinks the referendum is important.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-21695398

http://vimeo.com/64601371

 


Island Parish, a BBC television programme, is being filmed here. They came to the Lagoon and filmed us making Diddle Dee jam.

We have been very lucky to have had TV wildlife presenters Steve Backshall and Nigel Marven down at Bluff Cove Lagoon (Toby was very happy) and TV celebrity chef Phil Vickery.

We have also hosted many more 1982 veterans at the lagoon including the Gurkas pictured below.

The Commonwealth Parlimentary group as well as a gaggle of Attorney Generals, led by UK AG Dominic Grieve, have also been our guests.

 


We are building a new road to reduce our journey time and to add to the comfort of our guests.

Our King penguins numbers are growing every year at the lagoon. We have increased from 1 breeding pair to 10 breeding pairs in 10 years. They continue to delight our guests.

We won the Falkand Islands Tourist Board Best Visitor Experience Award in 2012 and again in 2013 and were also runner up for the Taste of the Falklands Award.

 


Toby won the Falkland Craft Fair Cup 2013!

We continue to entertain our guests with live music at the Lagoon, other visiting artists have included Christy Jefferson (below) and Marc Block. We love the song Andi Neate wrote for us called Sea Cabbage Café, about the lagoon. Andi has now settled in the Falklands.

 


BLUFF COVE LAGOON TOUR
wins at the SEATRADE INSIDER AWARDS 2009

Presented at Seatrade Europe in Hamburg in September 2009, Bluff Cove Lagoon Tour has won the Seatrade Insider Cruise Award for the best shore excursion: “Innovative Shorex of the Year 2009”.  The award is one of six categories that reward excellence across the international cruise sector.   Bluff Cove Lagoon Tour received the award in recognition of its notable contribution to the cruise industry over the past 12 months. Read more

 

 

This season we opened the Bluff Cove Museum next to the Sea Cabbage Café by the Lagoon beach. 

In January 2010 the museum was the venue for a visiting international singer/songwriter Andi Neate, who flew in from Scotland for a whistle-stop tour of the Islands making time to come down to the Lagoon to entertain the passengers off the Star Princess.  Andi, who loves big open spaces, found the Falklands very inspirational for her folk/jazz melodies and lyrics.  She loved seeing the penguins at the Lagoon, a highlight of her visit was when she was approached by a particularly inquisitive King penguin. She even bravely paddled in the South Atlantic before playing in the Bluff Cove Museum, one of her more remote gigs!  Between sessions Andi gave Toby Kilmartin an impromptu guitar lesson (pictured here), as she also teaches youngsters.  She arrived at the Lagoon the same way as everyone; off-road in a Land-Rover. 

In March 2010 "42 Commando" veterans of the 1982 war with Argentina led by their Colonel Nick Vaux returned to Green Beach and the Mount Harriet battlefield. We hosted Peter Cameron, commanding officer of "3 Commando Brigade" helicopters, and his son Charlie.  We were privileged to accompany them on parts of their pilgrimage and to entertain 42 Commando at the Lagoon, where they enjoyed a morning of wildlife followed by drinks in the museum (pictured right) and lunch in the Sea Cabbage Café.
Peter Cameron is pictured below right with Toby, laying a wreath to fallen comrades at the Ajax Bay 1982 field hospital on San Carlos water, originally a 1950s freezer plant. Below, Peter is in an Argentine dug-out on Bluff Cove Farm on the way to the Lagoon.

 

Falkland Exposed Photography Competition 

This photograph of Toby playing in a puddle by the Lagoon, won the “active/outdoor category” of the recent Falkland Island Tourist Board “Falkland Exposed” photography competition. It is one of 1,300 images entered in to the competition worldwide.

 


2008/2009 summer season at the Lagoon

Penguin TVWe entertained a record number of guests at our private wildlife haven Bluff Cove Lagoon, which is The Premier Shore Excursion for cruise ships visiting the Falklands! 

In November we hosted a film crew making a film about traditional Falklands music. They filmed our brilliant musician Jenny Cockwell playing her accordion by the beach.

 Ramblers

  

Also in November we held an evening of bird-watching followed by supper in the Sea Cabbage Cafe for a land-based tourist group The Ramblers. They enjoyed a dinner of delicious local flavours whilst watching the penguins porpoising ashore, followed by an adventurous journey home as the sun set over the Lagoon.

 Strange coloured penguins?

 

In December we hosted the Falklands Conservation Watch Group, giving 30 children a chance to learn more about their Islands wildlife as well enjoying a BBQ and having fun swimming in the sea!

We had some great wildlife excitements over the season, including visiting Southern Right whales and rare Leucistic penguins.  Please see our wildlife journal under “Wildlife”.

 

 


Our concerns for the wildlife

Oil spills — In March 2008 penguins came ashore at the Lagoon covered in oil; a minor oil spill had occurred leading to the death of a small number of Gentoo penguins.  Falklands Conservation staff tried to clean them, but to no avail.  The rescuing of penguins after the more serious inshore Ocean 8 oil spill was more successful, with Falklands Conservation returning cleaned penguins back to the wild.

This emphasizes how vulnerable the wildlife in the Falklands is to the actions of man.  During the season our experienced Rangers prevent any disturbance to wildlife by our guests, as we are well aware that the major threat to wildlife is man. 

With the arrival of the oil rig “Ocean Guardian” in February 2010 oil company Desire started  drilling in the North Falkland basin.  Oil company Rockhopper announced they had found oil in May 2010.  The oil catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico highlights the need for protection of the marine environment and wildlife of the Falkland Islands from possible man-made disasters .

Missiles — The Falkland Island Government (FIG) permits the British military to fire missiles in close proximity to the Lagoon and East Island.  The range is on neighbouring Government land and is only 2 miles from the Lagoon rookeries and East Island.

The military use the range to test weaponry at sea, and last year they used it for land exercises and low-flying jet fighter attacks, all very noisy and alarming to the wildlife. 

The missile exercises continue, twice a year in October and April, even though many letters of objection were sent in by people from both the local and international community. 

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who wrote to FIG expressing their concerns. As a result of the unprecedented numbers of letters that FIG received, a number of things happened:

1) We were successful in having a “no low flying zone” officially placed over the Lagoon and East Island area.

2) There is now stricter environmental monitoring in place.

3) The missiles are being fired to the East of the firing arc, away from the Lagoon and East Island.

We have concerns though.

We worry about compliance with these restrictions. Already the “no low flying zone” has been breached: in January 2009 a Tornado fighter-jet flew low over the Lagoon and scattered the Gentoos and our guests in all directions.  

PanicLuckily the Kings, which were all incubating eggs, were determined to stand firm and not to be swept away in the tide of terrified Gentoos.  The Commander of British Forces apologised publicly and as a result of this incident the “no low flying zone”  was increased in size.  We hope that this will never happen again .

We are concerned that the disturbance to the wildlife may increase, driven by the needs of the military and privatised armament companies to carry out weapons training and testing.   We feel that the flying of target drones, the firing of missiles, and the associated military low flying and land exercises may have serious consequences for the wildlife at the Lagoon and East Island.

A major worry is the possibility of an accidental fire on East Island, caused by malfunctioning missiles.

We fully appreciate the need for training and like everyone in the Falklands we are hugely appreciative of the sacrifices the military made in the 1982 war with Argentina; they gave us back our freedom.  We only ask that this range be moved to somewhere on the Islands less damaging to the wonderful but vulnerable wildlife at the Lagoon and on East Island.