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Bleaker Island ( ) is one of the Falkland Islandsmarker, lying off south east Lafoniamarker (the southern peninsula of East Falklandmarker). The name is a corruption of "Breaker Island" due to the waves that break on it. It was also known as "Long Island" at one point.

Geography

Bleaker Island is long, narrow and low-lying and the southern tip of the Island is separated from Lafoniamarker by a thin stretch of water named 'The Jump'. It has an area of 12000 acres or 18.75 square miles(48.5 square kilometres) and is 19 kilometres (12 miles) long. The island is no wider than 2.5 kilometres at any point and tapers to several thin necks of land at various points down its length. 'Semaphore Hill' is the highest point of the Island at 29 metres high. The western shores of Bleaker Island are low-lying and fringed by shallow stone beaches. The east coast of the island is characterised by low cliffs, interspersed with sand and pebble beaches and gultches and is directly exposed to the Atlantic Ocean. The Island has several large ponds and the most impressive beach is the 2 kilometre long 'Sandy Bay'.

History

Bleaker Island has been a sheep farm for over a hundred years. The island was managed by Arthur Cobb, a locally well-known agriculturalist and amateur naturalist, in the early 20th century who wrote a book on the subject, containing forty six of his own black and white photographs.

The low aspect of the Island resulted in many ship-wrecks off the Island in the 19th and 20th centuries. There were five ship-wrecks on Bleaker Island in the first quarter of the 20th century. The most famous of these was the French tall ship 'Cassard' wrecked on the southern tip of the Island carrying a cargo of coal in May 1906.

The Island has been run as an organic sheep and cattle farm by Mike and Phyll Rendell (absentee landlords) since 1999, and has the small Bleaker Island Settlement located on an isthmus in the centre of its length. They built a self-catering cottage, "Cobb's Cottage", and a house there in 2000 called "The Outlook", and employ a farming couple who live there.

Wildlife

The northern half of Bleaker Island is a National Nature Reserve - being designated in 1967.

The island is home to a wide variety of wildlife. A recent survey identified 49 bird species on the island, 37 of which were confirmed as breeding on site. Breeding species include Rockhopper, Magellanic and Gentoo penguins, King and Rock Cormorants, many small bird species and several birds of prey, including Striated and Southern Caracaras. The island is also a regular host to sea lions with some visiting Southern Elephant Seals.

A total of 79 species of flowering plant have been identified on Bleaker Island. Flora includes the yellow and dog orchid, and lady's slipper. A stretch of several kilometres of the east coast is vegetated by stands of tussac grass.

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