Colonies congregate on the sand banks between the island and the mainland at mid to low tide. From the 12th century onwards, the seals were harvested by the Islands' monks. 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 islands have the largest breeding colony in England with some 1,000 pups born here each autumn. Storms can be devastating for seals, particularly those from the north which can strip pups from some of the low-lying islands causing mass deaths. 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. From documents through to the 1500s there was quite a trade in seals and seal products. One was found alive at Jaeren, 20 miles away from Stavanger, Norway on 30 December. Pictured on the right is the late Billy Shiel MBE whose grandfather founded Farne Island Boat Trips in 1918 shortly after the 1st World War. The longer a male can stay in the colony and defend his territory, the more successful they will be. 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. There will likely also be some seals in the water between the sandbanks and the island. Seal Diving at the Farne Islands The Grey Seal colony is one of the largest in the UK but is the best in the UK for diving with them in the wild. This gives us the number born annually and allows us to calculate the mortality rate. In 1378-79 a seal calf could fetch about 22p which works out at about £140 in today’s money. This is often because they are washed out to sea by the rough waves and can’t survive as they are not yet waterproof. 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. Photo: Mick Knapton, CC BY-SA 3.0. They then spend another 20 days in the colony before heading to sea to become independent once their water-resistant fur has developed. 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. Just search for Farne Island cruises. In the Autumn months, female Grey seals come ashore the islands to pup. They are curious and often look in on divers in the water and are impressive to watch underwater. Longstone Lighthouse is an active 19th century lighthouse located on Longstone Rock in the outer group of the Farne Islands off the Northumberland Coast, England. The pup travelled 400 miles in a maximum of 14 days. Here are ten facts about seals on the Farnes from one of the head rangers. Pups are born with fuzzy, white fur, which is not water-resistant. They were valued because of the oil that could be extracted from their carcasses and also as a luxury food. Not so Common. Seal and pup on the Farne Islands in the North Sea off the coast of Northumberland (Owen Humphreys/PA) An annual seal census at one of … Despite this, the pups still have a difficult childhood. We use cookies to provide you with a better service. The Farne Islands. As the tide rises and forces the seals off the sand, they’ll swim around. Male seals have a lifespan of 20-25 years and female seals have a lifespan of 30-35 years. 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. Carry on browsing if you're happy with this, or find out how to manage cookies. It's tough being a seal pup. They sing a haunting tune, thought to be the siren songs that used to lure sailors to their death! Seals: Grey seals can be seen by boat. Their fur is often mottled, with darker grey blotches, which is where they get their name from. We currently have 11 boats, 8 Glad Tidings, 2 St Cuthberts and our high speed Rhib Ocean Explorer. Covid 19: information on staying with us while staying safe. 2,737 pups were born in 2018 – this equates to a colony size of 9,580 based on multiplying the number of pups born by 3.5. 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. This was the first sign that they travel huge distances across the North Sea. They spend 80% of their time underwater, diving for around eight minutes … If you’re lucky you might even spot a whale or some dolphins. Copyright 2020 All Right Reserved for original content. A much-loved addition to the fauna of the islands, the seals are not subjected to high human threat. If you’re lucky and have a keen eye, you might even spot a Harbour seal in the mix. Of these, three are accessible: Staple Island, Inner Farne and Longstone (home to the ‘Grace Darling’ Lighthouse). 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. Grey seals feed on wide variety of fish, squid, and octopus. Given the right weather conditions, the seals are visited every … In September on the Farnes, the first seal pups start arriving: small, fuzzy white balls that look like cotton wool. 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. 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. Have a look at our wildlife calendar to find out what you'll see when. Seals and Seal Pups. Duration: 150 Minutes (approx.) If they feel threatened by your presence, they can become defensive, so please do not approach them, especially with dogs. 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. The Farne Islands consist of between fifteen to twenty small islands. Nevertheless, it is as important as ever that we look after these animals and retain the beauty of these natural areas. Every Autumn around 1,000 seal pups are born in the Farnes and can be seen sunbathing on the rocks. Sadly, we don’t know too much about where they go when they leave the colony. As you look east and out to sea from Holy Island, you’ll see the Farne Islands. There are frequent calls for culls by those who claim seals reduce fish stocks, although there is no scientific evidence for this. While the pups are young, the males and females stay on land to protect and feed their offspring with extremely high-fat milk. Although they may look small from afar, Grey seals can weigh up to 300kg and reach 2.6 metres in length. Seals can reach depths of 30 metres. Land on Inner Farne, Staple Island, and Longstone when the islands … They may look friendly, but seals are still wild animals that should not be disturbed, particularly during breeding and pupping season. The visibility here is usually around 10 metres and you can experience some … The Farne Islands are famous among scuba divers which is largely down to the population of around 4,500 Atlantic Grey Seals that call these rocky outcrops ‘home’. Up to 4,000 Grey seals haul out onto the sand flats at Lindisfarne national nature reserve. Keep your eyes peeled for that grey shape bobbing in the sea. Seals, like all marine wildlife, are also regularly caught in fishing gear and marine debris. The plan was to paddle out to the Farne Islands for a leisurely day of Seal and bird spotting. 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. 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. 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. At just under a month old, they develop their adult coat so they can enter the sea by themselves. Seal usually stay underwater for between 4 and 8 minutes at a time, although the maximum time recorded was 30 minutes. 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. 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. Using a rotation of three or four colours we can work out how many pups are born, how many die, and how many ‘disappear’ before they would be able to survive. Sand eels make up about 70% of their diet, along with fish, squid and octopus. The primary species seen on Holy Island are Grey seals, also known as Atlantic seals. The Farnes boast one of the third largest colonies of Grey seals on the East Coast of England, providing a home to around 5,000 seals and contributing 2.5% of the annual British pup production. Visit from the sea. Because of this, they are protected in Britain under the Conservation of Seals Act of 1970. This is due to the lack of predators and a plentiful supply of sand eels. In comparison, Harbour seals are much smaller, weighting up to 170kg and reaching 1.5 metres in length. T hey are one of the world’s rarest seal species, officially endangered by a combination of water pollution, fishing nets and seaside tourism. Credit: PA Images An annual seal census in Northumberland has had to be carried out from the air because of the coronavirus pandemic. 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. It seems in the summer, the grey seals prefer sunbathing in the sun than playing with divers. Serenity Farne Island Boat Tours offers a wide range of boat trip to the Farne islands in Northumberland. This is also reflected in the Grey seal’s Latin name Halichoerus grypus, which means ‘hooked-nose sea pig’. 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