Sailing around all of the Farne Islands viewing the birds and seals and landing on Staple Island, a National Trust Bird Sanctuary for 1 hour. If you’re lucky and have a keen eye, you might even spot a Harbour seal in the mix. This year we are repeating this experiment as it's much less intrusive for the seals and much less dangerous for the rangers. What type of seals do we see? The Farne Islands consist of between fifteen to twenty small islands. Counting the pups. Dr Burville, a researcher from Newcastle University, was diving off the coast of the Farne Islands when he witnessed a male Grey seal ‘clap’ underwater during breeding season – which he then spent 17 years trying to capture on camera! The Holy Island colony haul-out among the Grey seals on the exposed sandbars at Fenham Flats. In September most of the sea birds have left as nesting season is over. The first experiment in tracking seals was on 16 December 1951 when ten pups were fitted with metal cattle tags. They are curious and often look in on divers in the water and are impressive to watch underwater. While the pups are young, the males and females stay on land to protect and feed their offspring with extremely high-fat milk. There are an estimated 3 to 4 thousand Grey Seals at the Farne Islands and large numbers can be counted basking on the rocks, especially at low water when more of the Islands are exposed. Fewer National Trust rangers were able to stay on the Farne Islands, off the Northumberland coast, to monitor them. 30% die within a month, and 50% within the first year. The easiest place to access the Farne Islands in Northumberland is to take a boat trip from the nearby harbour village of Seahouses. The Farne Islands are possibly the most exciting seabird colony in England with unrivalled views of 23 species, including around 43,000 pairs of puffin. Pups are born with fuzzy, white fur, which is not water-resistant. The Farnes seal colony is very lucky in that they don’t face many threats, and as such are doing incredibly well, with numbers increasing 57% over the last 5 years. In comparison, Harbour seals are much smaller, weighting up to 170kg and reaching 1.5 metres in length. With over a thousand Seal pups born each Autumn our colony is growing strong. Look out for the island’s colony of grey or Atlantic seals hauled up on the rocks or bobbing inquisitively in the sea. During this time, the seals gather in their thousands on the shores of the Farne islands, with the end of October being the peak time for the pups, and the best time of year to be out looking for them. The Farne Islands, which lie off the coast of nor Seabirds sit on a cliff edge on the Inner Farne, which is part of the Farne Islands, off the Northumberland coast, northern England, July 19, 2013. There’s a reason that Sir David Attenborough called the Farne Islands his “favourite place in the UK to see magnificent nature” – the islands and the surrounding seas are an internationally important wildlife reserve. The Farne Islands are popular with bird watchers, and as scuba diving locations, with a variety of sites suitable for all levels of divers, for the seals and wrecks. These islands offer better protection from storms and high seas, preventing wave-wash which can be devastating to pups on low-lying islands which haven’t yet grown waterproof fur. Our skippers and crewman are there to help you with any question you like so pleased do not hesitate to ask. Despite this, the pups still have a difficult childhood. The water around the islands is among the clearest in the country and offers superb diving from wrecks to scenic and not forgetting those inquisitive grey seals who will appear from nowhere to play with you. Of these, three are accessible: Staple Island, Inner Farne and Longstone (home to the ‘Grace Darling’ Lighthouse). The colonies here are one of the most important in Europe, and this species of seal is the largest surviving carnivore in the British Isles. As part of this work we carefully monitored the response of the seals to the drones. This gives us the number born annually and allows us to calculate the mortality rate. Grey seals feed on wide variety of fish, squid, and octopus. Seals: Grey seals can be seen by boat. They seem to move around from year to year, so if you’re staying with us, we may be able to tell you the most recent and best viewing places at the time. The Farne Islands are home to the grey seal (also known as the Atlantic Grey Seal), with between 3000 and 4000 of this rare species on and around the islands. The Farne Islands are most famous for the puffins and seals, plus many other species. The longer a male can stay in the colony and defend his territory, the more successful they will be. During the season, there will … There will likely also be some seals in the water between the sandbanks and the island. I couldn’t wait. Visit Farne Islands to see thousands of seabirds and a huge Grey seal colony. They are very rare on the Farnes with an average of 1 recorded per year. In September on the Farnes, the first seal pups start arriving: small, fuzzy white balls that look like cotton wool. Duration: 150 Minutes (approx.) Serenity Farne Island Boat Tours offers a wide range of boat trip to the Farne islands in Northumberland. Seals and pups on the Farne Islands in the North Sea off the coast of Northumberland (Owen Humphreys/PA) National Trust ranger Harriet Reid said: “Due to … If you’re lucky, you may hear the siren’s calls or even see a common seal lolling around Lindisfarne! Every year, we see an abundance of fantastic British wildlife, including puffins and over 100,000 seabirds. As with all marine mammals, they are covered in thick layer of blubber that they use to keep their body temperature stable in cold water, and a layer of dense, water-resistant fur. The Farne Islands lie two to three miles off the Northumberland coast midway between the fishing village of Seahouses and the magnificent Castle of Bamburgh. Nevertheless, it is as important as ever that we look after these animals and retain the beauty of these natural areas. This is when you’re most likely to see them, either bobbing on the water or hauled out on the shore. Since 2017, the rangers have also been experimenting with drones to follow and track the pups, as this is much less intrusive for the seals and much safer for our rangers. Given the right weather conditions, the seals are visited every … A study on German colonies found they move between the Danish, Dutch and UK coastlines, so it is likely the UK colonies also wander around that south-eastern corner of the sea. For three months every autumn they are visited every four days to monitor breeding success, and new pups are marked with harmless dye to keep an eye on them. The boats leave year round from Seahouses harbour (about 40 minutes drive from Holy Island). The rangers have also noticed a change in the behaviour, with more seals breeding on Brownsman and Staple islands. If they feel threatened by your presence, they can become defensive, so please do not approach them, especially with dogs. After the gunshot-like crack, the rival males dispersed quickly, leading Dr Burville to believe that male seals (also known as bulls) use this as a sign of strength to scare off competitors and attract mates. They then spend another 20 days in the colony before heading to sea to become independent once their water-resistant fur has developed. They are very rare, with an average of one recorded per year, however nine were seen in 2010. Have a look at our wildlife calendar to find out what you'll see when. In the Farne Islands wildlife comes in abundance, and in particular it’s home to a colony of over 8,000 grey seals, 37,000 breeding pairs of Puffins and an abundance of other bird life. A cautionary tale is that of the man rushed to hospital in Devon, after he attempted to pat a seal on the head and was bitten. Their fur is often mottled, with darker grey blotches, which is where they get their name from. It was a beautiful June day and the sea looked calm. We’ve used Billy Shiel and Serenity, and both were excellent. The Farnes has the longest history of counting the seals of any colony. Seals and Seal Pups. Visit from the sea. The plan was to paddle out to the Farne Islands for a leisurely day of Seal and bird spotting. Spoiler: these are ‘seal song’, from the grey seal colonies on the sandbanks and nature reserve beaches. Our boats have toilets on board and our catamaran has disabled access when the tides are right. Staple Island Boat trip. Farne Islands can be almost dived all year-long but if you want to increase your chances of an underwater encounter with grey seals, Septemberis the right period to go. The Farne Islands are open for visitors between the 28th March to the end of October. In 2017 Farne Islands rangers experimented with drones to capture seal pup numbers from the air. Between April and October, you can land on the islands themselves (May-July only for Staple Island, just in time for peak puffin season). The first tracking experiment in the 1950’s found one alive at Jaeren, 20 miles from the south western tip of Norway, having travelled 400 miles in 14 days. During this time, the seals gather in their thousands on the shores of the Farne islands, with the end of October being the peak time for the pups, and the best time of year to be out looking for them. The primary species seen on Holy Island are Grey seals, also known as Atlantic seals. However, seals on some of the higher islands such as Staple and Brownsman are less prone to wave-wash. Grey seals are ‘capital breeders’, which means that during their stay at the colony in the autumn both females and males fast, obtaining all their energetic requirements from their blubber. Seal usually stay underwater for between 4 and 8 minutes at a time, although the maximum time recorded was 30 minutes. 2.5% of the annual British pup production is from the Farnes, compared to 20% from the Monach Islands in the Outer Hebrides – the largest British colony. As creatures of the sea, seals counted as ‘fish’ and so could be eaten on a Friday. Once we have fitted you with equipment and you have changed into a wetsuit, a picturesque boat journey takes us to the Farne Islands. We hope you enjoy your visit to Holy Island and have the opportunity to experience these fantastic animals. Click here to listen (credit: BBC). Seals and pups on the Farne Islands in the North Sea off the coast of Northumberland (Owen Humphreys/PA) National Trust ranger Harriet Reid said: “Due to … Why not have a look at the rest of the site and please do not hesitate in … As well as being the most famous Sea Bird Sanctuary in the British Isles they also have a large colony of Atlantic / Grey Seals. Where are the Farne Islands The Farnes Islands are a group of islands just off the coast of Northumberland. This is often because they are washed out to sea by the rough waves and can’t survive as they are not yet waterproof. We use cookies to provide you with a better service. In the Autumn months, female Grey seals come ashore the islands to pup. Carry on browsing if you're happy with this, or find out how to manage cookies. If you’d like a closer encounter with seals (as well as amazing birdlife and puffins in season), plan to take one of the cruises to or around these islands. Say hello to the new seal pups on the Farne Islands, This seal has a yellow paint on its fur, showing it has been counted, Drones are a new way of counting seals that can be more accurate than traditional methods, Seals are born all across the Farne Islands. Land on Inner Farne, Staple Island, and Longstone when the islands … All ages are welcome as well as dogs. These trips will typically take you to see the seal colony up close first, and also either take you around the islands, or land you on one of them. The Farne Islands are located between Bamburgh and Seahouses on the Northumberland coast and are home to one of the largest seal colonies in the UK with around 1,000 seal pups born each year. Sandwich tern July* Islands: Both Staple and Inner Farne are open. If you are unsure if a pup is safe, or if an animal appears injured, please ring the British Divers Marine Life Rescue hotline on 01825 765546 or 07787 433412. The longer a male can stay and defend his territory, the more successful his pups will be – they can fast for over 50 days! Since they can’t hunt for food, the parents fast during this time, gaining energy from the blubber they have stored up. Keep your eyes peeled for that grey shape bobbing in the sea. Organised by Katie with Billy Shiell's diving boat "Glad Tidings". The Trust took over counting in 1970 and continues to this day. Just search for Farne Island cruises. From the 12th century onwards, the seals were harvested by the Islands' monks. The Farne Islands are located just below the Scottish border on the east side of England for this Seal Diving Trip and are known as one of the best locations in the UK to dive with seals. 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