Farne Islands Map – Guardian Graphics
The Farne Islands are situated off the coast of Northumberland in the UK, providing divers with a playground of exciting excursions which differ in depth, and therefore skill level. Here, we'll summarize the top ten things you shouldn’t miss if you're planning on diving off the coast, from the best wrecks to the creatures you will commonly encounter there. Just be sure to wear a thick exposure suit, as the temperatures often revolve around 10° Celsius!
1. The Somali Wreck
Bombed off the coast of Blyth in 1941, the wreck of the Somali cargo ship lies upright in the water off Beadnell point. Almost the entire 450-foot hull is still intact, though the missing bow is said to have been completely destroyed in the explosion. On its way from London to Hong Kong, the boat contained 6,809,900 tons of general cargo, including gas masks, batteries and 1,000 lead toy soldiers. Now stripped of most cargo, the empty vessel still makes for an exciting wreck dive. It was found by divers in 1973 and remains hugely popular today.
The Somali Wreck courtesy of Nick Young, Diving Karma
2. Chris Christensen
On February 16th, 1915, a Danish steamship 'chris'tened the Chris Christiansen ran aground on the southeastern coastline. The bow section still sits on the seabed at the bottom of the cliff, while other parts of the wreck, including a magnificent iron emergency steering wheel, coral festooned grinders, boilers, engine block, plates and other fittings, lie at a depth of 35 meters. This wreck attracts many forms of wildlife such as conger, wolfish, ling and wrasse, making for a great dive for those who enjoy seeing wrecks and aquatic life together.
Chris Christensen Wreck courtesy of Divernet
On September 3rd, 1921, the 5,753-foot German steamship drove onto a knife stone and sank at 18 meters, creating the largest wreck in the Farne islands. The ship's remains are home to many types of wildlife, such as conger, wolfish, pollock, wrasse and huge cod, making this the ideal site for photography that beautifully mixes wildlife with wrecks.
4. St. Andres
This former French steamship now lies halfway along the southeast face of Staple Island. What remains of the 1,120-ton ship is situated at the base of the cliff, and evidence of her cargo can still be seen amongst the ship's plates and ribs. There is also a family of ballan wrasse that has become accustomed to divers, making this a perfect opportunity to catch them on camera.
This British steamship, which measured 210-feet long and weighed 740 tons, was used as both a cargo and passenger ship. It struck south of the Callers in thick fog on September 25th, 1915. The engine is broken up and buried in sand, while her condenser and boiler stand free. Parts of the wreck, primarily the bow and winch assembly, lie about 25 to 30 meters away from the reef, with the prop shaft about 8 to10 meters away.
Part of the Britannia Wreck, courtesy of Divernet
6. The Acclivity
The Acclivity was a 389 ton British tanker on a journey from Thameshaven to Newburough when it sank, likely due to a storm. Known as the Linseed Wreck, since her cargo contained linseed oil, this massive ship now lies on her portside facing east to west. At 40 meters in length, The Acclivity is the ideal dive for those who seek an interesting round of exploration. The ship is in relatively pristine condition, with little evidence of any damage beyond buckled plates, which were possibly caused by impact with the sea bed.
Inside the Acclivity Wreck, courtesy of Divernet
Fortunately, the Farne Islands have more to offer than a series of wrecks, with the rich environment of the surrounding northeast coast providing a home to a massive array of marine life, such as sea anemones, light bulb sea squirts, edible sea urchins, bottle brush hydroids, and several species of fish, including leopard spotted goby and pollock. One of the most common types of fish is the wrasse, which grows to pretty impressive sizes.
Big Wrasse in the Farne Islands, courtesy of Nick Young, Diving Karma
8. Grey Seals
Extensive kelp forests may provide some nice scenery when diving, but they're also an important feeding ground for the famous Farne Island seals. This small collection of islands contains 75% of the English population of grey seals. One of the most enjoyable elements of diving here is how inquisitive and friendly the seals are. It is guaranteed that they will swim up to you and investigate, providing an opportunity for some great photographs and a wonderfully memorable experience. Just be careful that they don't get away with any of your equipment--they're known to be quite cheeky!
Getting to know the locals, courtesy of Nick Young, Diving Karma
Kelp is found in waters with a high level of nutrients and light. It is an integral part of the ecosystem, providing food and shelter for many varieties of marine life. The many fish of the Farne Islands flock to the kelp for shelter, and it provides feeding grounds for the aforementioned grey seals. The seals are even known to use the kelp forests as hiding spots for games of seal-verse-diver Hide and Seek. If you decide to join in on the game, just be careful you don’t get tangled up in the kelp -stay near your buddy in highly saturated areas.
Kelp Forest, courtesy of North Sea Wildlife
One of the most common creatures to spot diving off the east coast is lobsters. They are highly prized as seafood and are economically important, being one of the most profitable commodities in the coastal areas they populate. That's why it is important to never take them from the water. They're also known to be a bit aggressive, so should you come across one, don't intimidate it!
Looking for more awesome underwater finds? Check out 5 Underwater Attractions You Never Knew Existed!
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