At around 0430 on Saturday the 16th March the MV Danio, a 80 metre long cargo vessel issued a distress call after it became grounded on the ‘Blue Caps’ low lying tidal rocks of the Farne Islands to the south west of The Longstone.
The Danio has a cargo of timber on board and despite confirmation that the bow has been breached there is no spillage of fuel or oil at the moment. The Danio is a fairly new vessel, built in 2001 with a double hull design which has helped prevent what could have been an ecological catastrophe for the wildlife of the Farne Islands.
At this point little is known about how the Danio set a course right through the middle of the Farne Islands nature reserve. The vessel was on a course from Perth in Scotland to Antwerp in Belgium. Yesterday Maritime GPS data suggested the vessel took a straight course for many miles prior to becoming grounded. In most cases ships will pass the islands to the east.
We have to be thankful the Danio was not a vessel carrying a cargo of oil or other fuel. An oil spill would have been nothing less than catastrophic to the Farne Islands environment and the hundreds of thousands of puffins, guillemots, razorbills, shags, kittiwakes, fulmars, eider ducks and terns which will shortly arrive for the breeding season. It is a sharp reminder of just how vulnerable the wildlife of the Farne Islands is to external forces.
Last year the Royal Air Force agreed to a formal no fly zone over the Farne Islands after a low flying jet caused panic amongst cliff breeding birds resulting in chicks and eggs drowning in the seas below. Perhaps this event demonstrates a need to look at such an exclusion zone for shipping? According to a maritime representative of the Secretary of State there is no formal exclusion zone for such large vessels sailing around the islands.
Thank you to Andrew Douglas of Serenity Farne Islands Boat Tours for his ongoing support in facilitating my Farne Islands photography.