The last time I dived the Farne Islands must have been about 7 or 8 years ago, probably the year that I started diving. The islands make frequent appearances on television programs due to their bird colonies and also due to the seal population. It is the opportunity to dive with the seals that is the draw for divers visiting the Farnes and I didn’t have to think twice when an invitation to do so came from a friend.
It was an overcast day when we arrived at Seahouses to meet up with the others and board one of Billy Shiel’s boats the Glad Tidings VII.
Seahouses Harbour with the Farnes visible in the distance.
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Although there had been an extended period of calm weather there was a bit of a swell as we headed out to the first of our two dive sites which was the ‘Blue Caps’. Whilst waiting for the boat we had listened to stories of ‘the best viz. ever seen at the Farnes’ from someone who had dived there the previous weekend. Safe to say, that wasn’t still the case! It was by no means the worst I have dived in and it was a return to normality for my first dive since returning from Indonesia. There were a huge number of Lobsters on the dive mostly hiding away between the boulders but one of them was out roaming about in the open so I took the opportunity to get a snap of it. I also came across a Scorpion Fish with the leg of what looked to be a Squat Lobster hanging out of its mouth. There were quite a few Blue Jellyfish drifting about with little fish hitching a ride. Seals made a brief appearance with one swimming past to check us out as we carried out our safety stop but by and large they kept their distance on this dive.
For our second dive we headed to a site known as The Hopper. The visibility was greatly improved here and as we headed in and out of the various gullies the seals were buzzing past checking us out. Towards the end of our hour long dive we had around ten minutes where they were coming right up to us and at one point I was face up with one either side of me, their heads across my shins. I made a very poor job of grabbing some photos of them as they didn’t hang about in one place for too long! Another came over to check out a third diver who had joined us for our safety stop and came face to face with him allowing him to stroke it under the chin, which it seemed to really enjoy! It is fascinating to get so close to these naturally inquisitive wild animals and for them to decided to come up and interact with us. I will be making sure it isn’t another 7 or 8 years until I get the opportunity to do so again and the next time I will be a lot quicker with the camera!