Fourteen degrees is considered quite warm in the North Sea, it’s awfully cold for me, but the seals and the sea birds don’t seem to care. It’s just me shivering in my dry suit as I try to capture the rich assortment of life around me.
The North Eastern coast of England might not seem, at first glance, to be full of life. The sea is often rough and stormy and…did I mention the cold?
The truth is though, if you find the right location with the right conditions, you will discover an area that rivals any tropical reef for sheer amount of life.
One such spot is the Farne Islands, a collection of small rocky outcrops that varies in number depending on the state of the tide. The Farnes demonstrate just how vital these offshore habitats are – they are generally free of the usual land-based predators and benefit from currents and conditions that are a ‘halfway house’ between shore and open ocean.
In the Farnes, seabirds numbering in the thousands also play a part. Birds such as Kittiwakes, Puffins, Terns, and Guillemots gather fish from a huge range and then, as birds do, release nutrients into the local waters that contributes to feeding an ecosystem full of life.
Marine algae, crustaceans, soft corals, anemones, and fish from shallow water species to deep dwellers can be seen with ease, but it’s the Grey Seals that every diver wishes to swim with. Puppy-like, the seals will often approach divers and have learned to tolerate our presence.