If you are looking for a different destination where you can live an adventure, in this article we propose one of the most interesting, the South Orkney Islands. Here you will find everything you need to know about the islands, from where they are located to other interesting aspects such as their fauna, climate or characteristics.

The South Orkney Islands are a group of islands lying between the Scotia Sea and the Weddell Sea in the South Atlantic Ocean. It is an archipelago composed mainly of two large islands, Coronation Island and Laurie Island.

These islands are surrounded by more small islands and rocky islets, although these are only interesting for the fauna of the place or for those who want to enjoy the views.

The South Orkney Islands are especially known by nature lovers and explorers, as it is a privileged enclave of nature, with a very particular environment. Surrounded by glaciers, with a diverse wildlife and a rich Antarctic history that is worth knowing, the South Orkney Islands are a unique experience to enjoy.

Where are the South Orkney Islands

The South Orkney Islands are located between 60º and 62º South latitude and 44º and 46º West longitude. As we have mentioned before, this archipelago has several islands, practically covered by glaciers and surrounded by icy and stormy waters.

All these conditions make traveling to these South Orkney Islands an adventure, so we recommend that you are in good physical condition if you want to carry out this trip. If you dare to try it, you can enjoy a unique experience in a remote place where few people have arrived.

One of the most interesting aspects of these islands is their wildlife. Although it is a place away from everything, they have a diversity of life of the most surprising, both in the waters and in the ice.

In its cold waters you will be able to find humpback whales, orcas, local species such as Weddell seals and also southern elephant seals. Not all of Orkney’s wildlife is found in the sea, as there is also a large presence of colonies of penguins and other birds such as albatrosses and Antarctic petrels, which nest on these islands normally.

The South Orkney Islands are also the preferred place for many migratory birds that seek a safe place to shelter, reproduce and feed on the islands. If you are going to carry out a visit to the South Orkney Islands you can not forget the binoculars to enjoy in first person what we are telling.

South Orkney Islands map

These South Orkney Islands have a great history to know. It was in 1903 that William Speirs Bruce, a Scottish explorer established the first permanent scientific station in Antarctica. This station would have its origin in Lauri Island and would be known as Orkney Station.

The station was operational for 3 more years, until 1906. During all this time it served to lay the foundations of Antarctic research in the region and, as you have seen, it could hardly have chosen a better place due to the diversity of the Orkney Islands themselves.

In addition to serving as a research base, the South Orkney Islands have been very important because they were used as a supply stopover. All the Antarctic expeditions that were carried out during the twentieth century had the support of the Islands to resupply.

Today, the role of the South Orkney Islands is quite different. If you are fortunate enough to be able to reach the islands through one of the expeditions that take place, you will be rewarded with some of the best views of Antarctica.

The experiences you can carry out in the South Orkney Islands are unforgettable. It is not only about enjoying the views from the boat or the islands, but you can also walk through imposing glaciers and learn more about Antarctic nature.

Who owns the South Orkney Islands

Unlike other islands in the world, the South Orkney Islands do not belong to any specific country. This is because these islands are part of the Antarctic Treaty. Being part of that treaty prevents the islands from belonging to any country, as is the case with the rest of Antarctica.

That they do not belong to any country does not mean that there have not been countries that have tried to claim them for themselves. In the past, countries such as Argentina and the United Kingdom have made several claims on these islands.

Despite Argentine and British claims to the islands, the discovery of these islands was by American and British sealers in 1821. Later, these islands were under the control of the Argentines, but now they are part of the Antarctic Treaty and can only be used for scientific purposes.

Being part of the Antarctic Treaty implies that the islands are a protected area that is known as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. This designation already makes it quite clear that the sole purpose of the islands is scientific studies. For this reason, the ecosystem and wildlife of the region must be preserved.

If you are going to visit the South Orkney Islands it is very important that you take into account the Antarctic Treaty. This is because there are some factors that you should know, for example, you will not be able to introduce anything into the ecosystem or take anything out of it, for example, ice.

Although it is a remote region of difficult access, it is intended that the footprint of man can not harm the very nature of the islands. To give you an idea, it is quite likely that you will have to disinfect your feet if you decide to travel to the islands and, for example, walk among the glaciers. In this way, you will avoid that you can contaminate part of your ecosystem with any bacteria or waste.

What fauna can be found in the South Orkney Islands

One of the most interesting aspects of the South Orkney Islands is the wildlife that can be found in them. Let’s look at some of the most outstanding species.

Penguins are one of its most famous inhabitants and among these are several species. The chinstrap penguins, the Papuans and the Adelaide. These penguins come to the islands during the breeding season to incubate their eggs and feed their young.

Another of the most representative species are the albatrosses, mainly the wandering albatross which is one of the most emblematic species that nests on the islands. Antarctic petrels also have a presence in the South Orkney Islands and, in addition to these, Weddell seals, which is a species native to the Weddell Sea.

In the South Orkney Islands you can also find southern elephant seals, huge creatures famous for their massive bodies. Finally, it is also possible to find whales. In this case you will find humpback whales and orcas, which all migrate to this area in search of food.

As you can see, a fauna of the most varied and special both on land and in water. Remember that all species are protected due to the Atlantic Treaty and strict regulations are carried out to minimize human impact in order to preserve the natural environment of this special wild island.


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