We had the most interesting enquiry, it read: Can your dye last in sea water for three weeks?
We didn’t know. Nobody did. We wondered why you want a dye that only lasted three weeks as much as anything. What can you do in three weeks? Shoot a film? Shoot an underwater film…? Turns out it’s for dying seal pups on Farne Island, the National Trust rangers and volunteers tag the baby seals to track how the colony is doing. Once you’ve counted the seal, you paint it. I’m not saying all seals look alike, it’s just there are such large numbers.
There are between 15 and 20 islands depending on the state of the tideWikipedia
Look out for the island’s colony of grey or Atlantic seals hauled up on the rocks or bobbing inquisitively in the sea. The islands have the largest breeding colony in England with some 2,000 pups born here each autumn.VisitNorthumberland.com
David Attenborough declared Farne Island one of two places in Britain to see nature at its best. Tweeter @BarleySpillman asked “for those who can’t go abroad as easily, where in the UK offers the best opportunity to capture magnificent nature?”
Count us in
The National Trust volunteers count the seal cubs, then mark them to avoid counting them twice. The dye also allows the National Trust to keep track of mortality rates and watch for any trends. The task of the dye is simply to mark them for three weeks until their adult fur comes through. The dye needs to be safe, seawater resistant and to stick to the fur despite the natural oils that help keep the seals warm.
This year the rangers have experimented with our natural Madder Dye and we’ve just sent them some of our natural Turmeric Dye for testing. Like all our dyes they are both just plant material with nothing added or taken away. Both are considered non-toxic, which is a great starting point, however the real test will be whether it can survive in this challenging and unique environment.