Voyage of Darwin’s Beagle – Episode 3: The Last Frontier (2009)

Fish are cold blooded animals and this property make them very efficient in terms of biomass accumulation. For this reason ecological trophic levels in aquatic systems can be much higher than terrestrial systems. The documentary film The End of the Line by Charles Clover mentioned in this episode draws attention to the problem of overfishing.

About 400 million years ago, the Falkland Islands were part of the supercontinent of Gondwana, located between southern Africa and what is now Queen Maud Land, Antarctica. When Gondwana broke apart, the Falkland Islands were left behind like crumbs of a massive geologic cookie was split into pieces. Today, the islands are about 600 kilometers (400 miles) east of Argentina and 1,350 kilometers (850 miles) north of the Antarctic Circle. There are 778 islands in this territory of the United Kingdom, but East Falkland and West Falkland form the bulk of the landmass size of the state of Connecticut.

The Falkland Islands have a cool, moist climate that varies minimally throughout the year. Average annual temperatures are about 5.6°C (42°F). Temperatures reach as high as 24°C (76°F) in summer and as low as -5°C (22°F). Rainfall is comparatively low and evenly distributed throughout the year, averaging 625 millimeters (25 inches) in Stanley, the capital city. Few trees grow on the islands. Instead, grassland and heath dominate the landscape.

Darwin had some damning statements about Fuegans contrasting with his contemporary co-discoverer of the theory of evolution Alfred Russel Wallace who had a huge respect to people he met both in the Amazons and Malay Archipelago. Meeting with savage Fuegans made Darwin thought that Humans are no different from other animals whose actions are constrained by nature.

Yagan Indians have 61 different words for describing family relationships. Language indeed tell a lot about people. Last surviving members of Yagan indians are clinging on to survive today. As articulated marvelously in the book Guns Germs and Steel, Indians had no immunity against European diseases and their population become devastated.

Ecologist and philosopher Ricardo Rossi explains in front of the spot where Darwin first began to think about common origin idea. A memorial is set for the location.

The captain of Beagle Robert FitzRoy (1805–1865) was given the task to map the coastline of South America especially the Straight of Magellan. In those days calculating the longitude was a big challenge and highly accurate clocks and chronometers were taken on board. On this quest, Beagle almost got shipwrecked! Chilean navy helps locate the exact location along the Beagle Channel.

 

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