Storms strand wildlife experts on island

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The Independent Online

A team of wildlife experts has been stranded on a remote island for more than two weeks because of extreme weather conditions, it was revealed today

Gale force winds have prevented the five men sailing back to the mainland from the Farne Islands, off the coast of Northumberland.

David Steel, head warden of the Farne Islands, and his team were counting, tagging and marking seal pups when the bad weather struck.

The 32-year-old said: "Three members of the team were last on the mainland on November 6. I came over on November 11 with another member of the group.

"We have been stuck ever since and there is no escape. Cabin fever is starting to kick in.

"We all just want to get off now and get back to the mainland."

The team, which only has a limited supply of food and water, is likely to be stranded until next week.

Mr Steel, who is from Corbridge, Northumberland, said: "We are going to be pretty desperate for food by then and I'm not sure what we are going to do.

"At the moment we haven't got a massive supply of food left. We have enough stuff for evening meals - it's breakfast and lunch that are hard to cater for.

"We also don't have a main supply of water here. It's imported from the mainland, so we are obviously having to ration that at the moment."

And he is also concerned for the safety of the seal pups.

He said: "I'm sure that the seal pups will be suffering in this. They have to stay out of the sea for the first three weeks after they are born and I'm sure some will have been washed out to sea and have perished.

"We are meant to go to the grey seal colonies every four days but we haven't been now for about 12."

The team are living in a 18th century former lighthouse cottage while they are stuck on the island.

The team travelled over to the Farne Islands in a small rigid inflatable boat (rib) which was unable to make it back to the mainland in the bad weather.

But Mr Steel said even large boats would struggle to make it over to the island at the moment.

He added: "If the situation got really bad we would have to be rescued by helicopter."