When I dived the Farne islands in August last year, it was my first visit there in many years. It was great having a chance to dive with the seals again which is the reason that most divers visit the Farne Islands. Most of the visiting birdlife (the other main visitor attraction there) had departed by August and the skies were relatively quiet.
When I visited this year in mid-June, it was a very different place. The sky was full of birds criss-crossing overhead, making their way out to fish or heading back with a beak-full of their catch for hungry chicks waiting back on the islands. Birds were packed tightly together on ever flat surface and there was a lot of jostling and bickering going on. The rocks were white with bird droppings and when you were downwind of it the smell was enough to put you off your sandwiches!
We dived with Sovereign Diving on board the Mara Mahor – an orange catamaran with loads of deck space and the obligatory diver lift at the rear. Our skipper for the weekend was Ron and between dives he made a point of taking us alongside some of the islands for a bit of wildlife spotting. Many of those on board had brought along a camera and puffins seemed to be a big favourite causing great excitement every time they were spotted! The water temperature varied slightly with depth and dive site but averaged about 11 degC and although it was a bit overcast on surface the visiblity wasn’t too bad.
The sites we dived over the course of the weekend were Knivestone, Callers, Longstone End and Gun Rock. The map below shows the location of each of these sites and if you are interested in finding out more there is some excellent info on many of the Farne Islands dive sites on Dave Cordes’ website here.
Beneath the surface things were a little less frantic, but there was plenty to see, including of course the seals. We had some nice interactions particularly with the younger seals who seem to be fascinated by diver’s fins. Often the first indication you’re being followed is a tug on one of your fins.
Below is a short video clip taken with a camera mounted onto the side of my mask. They never seem to be sure whether they want to lie on them or chew them, but this time they opted for a bit of both!
I was back at the Farnes again in September and had an even closer encounter with the seals. More of that in a later post!