George & Barren Islands
This group of islands lie at the southern entrance to Falkland Sound, the channel of water dividing East and West Falkland. The land is low-lying with several ponds and many sheltered, sandy coves. Walking on each of the islands is easy due to the flat terrain. Around forty two species of birds can be seen in thee islands along with marine mammals.
Barren Island supports a large colony of juvenile sea lions and easily accessible sites to view southern giant petrels. It is a paradise for wildlife enthusiasts and photographers with visitors able to tick off around thirty two species of birds, elephant seals, and sea lions on a 3 km walk. Helicopter visits to Barren Island can be organised for Mount Pleasant personnel and the island features on some cruise itineraries.
George Island is much larger than Barren but home to most of the same species of birds and colonies of juvenile sea lions. The colony at Speedwell Pass generally has over one hundred and fifty pups each year, always keen to pose for cameras. Several tussac plantations are being developed for conservation, environmental and agricultural purposes. It also appears on cruise itineraries.
Speedwell is the largest of the three islands and is the main home of the family who own and manage this island group. The owners consider themselves nomadic as they farm across all three islands and each has to be worked individually. Over five thousand sheep are bred for wool and meat along with around seventy cattle. Transport between islands is a small (12m) steel boat. Every island has a house and shearing facilities so the family can reside and work in each location as needed. Speedwell also has a range of birds with sea lions and elephant seals dotted along the coastline.