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Beauchene Island: Map

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Beauchene Island depicted on an 18 century map, much further west than actual position (R.W. Seale, ca. 1745, fragment)


Beauchene Island is one of the Falkland Islandsmarker, lying thirty miles south of Sea Lion Islandmarker, the nearest land. It was discovered in 1701 by Jacques Gouin de Beauchêne and named for him.

Geography

Beauchene is the most isolated island of the Falkland archipelago. It is uninhabited, and is approximately two square miles in size.

It is divided into two parts connected by a sandy isthmus: the south, with a hill of 82 metres (269 ft) in height, and a north eastern part with bare rocks.

There is a natural anchorage on the east side of the island, but this can only be used in fair weather.

History

Anthony de la Roché may have sighted Beauchene Island as early as April 1675. However, this is by no means certain; de la Roché had been rounding Cape Hornmarker and was blown off course. What he visited is usually said to be South Georgiamarker, which fits his descriptions better, particularly of high ice covered mountains and bays in one of which la Roché anchored for a fortnight (see the Seixas y Lovera narrative), but supporters of Argentinamarker's claim to South Georgia more often claim it was Beauchene.

A while after its official discovery in 1701 by Jacques Gouin de Beauchêne, seal trappers tried to settle the island unsuccessfully.

In 1834, the American McArthur landed 100 people on the island, driving the local sea lions to extinction (they have since returned).

The island is currently uninhabited, but there the ruins of a group of houses built in the 1830s, on the west side of the island.

The first proper scientific expedition landed in 1951 by helicopter, staying for a month.

During the Falklands War, there was an Argentine wreck on a reef just south of the islands, and British soldiers lived for around four weeks there.

Flora and fauna

The island is a nature reserve and is covered in tussac grass and is known for its colony of black-browed albatrosses. Other wildlife includes rockhopper penguins, while the coast is known for its caves. It is also known for its peat, which forms at around ten times the rate of anywhere else in the world. The process by which it forms so fast is not understood fully.

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