Sea Lion Island wildlife

Although very small in size, Sea Lion Island shelter an abundant and varied wildlife, which represents a good, and concentrated, sample of the wildlife of the Falklands at large. Particularly interesting are the the main breeding colony of southern elephant seals in the islands; a colony of southern sea lions (about one hunderd breeding females), a species very common in the Falklands in the past but now very reduced; large colonies of gentoos, rockhopper and magellanic penguins; breeding colonies of various marine birds, including cormorants, gulls and skuas; about twenty breeding pairs of caracarcas; and last but not least a wide array of small bird species (more than fourty species can normally be spotted on the island). Pods of killer whales are usually seen in the surrounding waters during the breeding season of elephant seals and sea lions. The following wildlife pictures have all been taken by us at Sea Lion Island

Table of contents


Marine birds


Ducks and geese

Birds of prey

Small birds

Marine mammals


Gentoo penguin

Gentoo penguins going back to the nesting colonies after spending the day at sea

Rockhopper penguin

Rockhopper penguin on the nest

Magellanic penguin

Magellanic penguin pair vocalizing at the entrance of their burrow

King penguin

King penguin hauling out together with gentoos; king penguins are not breeding at Sea Lion Island, but some vagrant individuals can be observed on the island

Macaroni penguin

A mixed macaroni plus rockhopper pair; macaroni penguins are a very rare sight at Sea Lion Island, and in the Falklands at large

Marine birds

King cormorants

King cormorants are regular breeders at Sea Lion Island, and the main colony had more than 1400 nesting pairs in 2016-2017

Kelp gull

Kelp gull chicks, on of them just hatched; kelp gulls are regular breeders at Sea Lion Island, although they are a very sensitive species during the breeding, and their normal breeding activity is easily disrupted by human disturbance; IMPORTANT: please never approach nesting kelp gulls at close distance

Dolphin gull

Dolphin gulls are regular breeders at Sea Lion Island, they are quite insensitive to human disturbance, and are an ideal photographic subject due to their mating behaviour

Brown-headed gull

Brown-headed gulls are regular sighting at Sea Lion Island, but they were never seen to breed on the island

Giant petrel

A flying giant petrel; although giant petrels were used to breed at Sea Lion Island (up to 50-60 breeding pairs in the early 2000s), they are not breeding on the island anymore, because the expansion of the sand dunes of the East Point greatly changed their nesting habitat


Pied oystercatcher

Pied oystercatchers are abundand on Sea Lion Island sand beaches, but they can occupy a diverse range of habitats, for example nesting in the diddledee

Black oystercatcher

At Sea Lion Island black oystercatchers are definitely rarer than pied oystercatchers, and just a few pairs nest on remore parts of the coastline, where there is no human disturbance

Two-banded plover

Two-banded plovers with eggs or chicks are a common sight at Sea Lion Island

White-rumped sandpiper

Sandpipers are common at Sea Lion Island, in particular after high tide on the sand beaches, but they are breeding on the island

Ducks and geese

Kelp goose

Kelp geese ara abundant at Sea Lion Island, and nesting pairs are scattered all along the coastline; the species is strongly territorial, and males can be involved in all-out fights, in which often one of the two get wounded

Steamer duck

The flightless steamer duck is a common sight on Sea Lion Island becahes, either in territorial pairs or big groups of juvenile individuals, in which dominance contests are frequent

Patagonian crested duck

The patagonian crested duck is a common species at Sea Lion Island; they have a strange mating system, because, apart from pairs, they can have trios or quartets with different number of males and females

Yellow-billed teal

The yellow-billed teal is a rather species at Sea Lion Island; it is found mostly in the bigger ponds

Upland goose

The upland goose is the most common species of goose, both at Sea Lion Island and in the Falklands at large

Birds of prey

Striated caracara

Striated caracaras are regular breeders at Sea Lion Island, that shelters about twenty nesting pairs

Creasted caracara

Crested caracaras are a rather rare sighting at Sea Lion Island, because there is just one resident nesting pair

Peregrine falcon

The peregrine falcon is a regular sighting at Sea Lion Island, although it is usually just one individuals; the last time we observed a pair to nest on the island was in 2005, and in recent year no young has even been seen, so the species is probably not breeding on the island at the moment

Red-backed buzzard

Buzzards are an occasional sighting at Sea Lion Island, because the species is not breeding on the island

Short-eared owl

Short-eared owls are a regular, althoug rare, sighting at Sea Lion Island; they probably breed on the island, because juveniles individuals were observed, but we never located an actual nest

Small birds


A wren on the seacabbage

Black-throated finch

A black-throated finch nest

Falkland pipit

A young Falkland pipit, just recently fledged

Black-chinned siskin

A male black-chinned siskin

Dark-faced tyrant

A dark-faced tyrant

Marine mammals

Moulting elephant seals

A group of moulting southern elephant seals; they beautiful sand beaches of Sea Lion Island not only shelter the largest breeding colony of the species in the Falklands, but they are also a favorite moulting hot spot for seals coming from many other islands of the South Atlantic Ocean

Sea lions

Southern sea lions are present at Sea Lion Island year round, and they are breeding on the island December to February in a colony that produces about 100 pups

A killer whale pod

A killer whale pod; Sea Lion Island is the only place in the Falklands where orcas can be easily and regularly observed