Wattenmeer: Germany’s Surreal Destination
The Wadden Sea is the largest unbroken intertidal zone situated in the South-eastern part of the North Sea. The name of the sea is derived from the Dutch word ‘Wad’ which, when translated means ‘Mud Flat.’ It is to be noted that the area surrounding the Wadden Sea is known for its extensive tidal mud flats.
Though most of the German part of the Sea forms a shallow water body, it is quite rich in Biodiversity. Due to this very reason, the Dutch and German parts of the Wadden Sea were included in the list of World Heritage Sites of UNESCO in the year 2009. Five years later, in 2014, the Danish part of the Sea was also added to the list.
The Wadden Sea stretches from Den Helder in the North-west of Netherlands, crossing the river estuaries in Germany to the north of Esbjerg in Denmark.
The Wadden Sea
The Wadden Sea stretches from Den Helder, in the North-west of Netherlands, crossing the river estuaries in Germany to the north of Esbjerg in Denmark. Known remarkably for its flora and fauna, The Wadden Sea is home to innumerable Waders (shorebirds), Ducks and Geese, who make use of the area for migration stopover or hibernation purposes. Gulls and Terns are also found in large numbers surrounding the Wadden Sea. Before human intervention, species of birds such as Eagles, Flamingos, Pelicans, and Herons were usually seen around the area. Many regionally extinct species are also found here.
The Wadden Sea is a major habitat for Harbour Seals and Grey Seals. Several species of birds and aquatic organisms were earlier seen in large numbers here. Species of fish such as Sturgeons, Rays, Brown Trout, and Atlantic Salmon have disappeared from the area as well due to the reduction of the size of the Wadden Sea by a staggering 50%. All is not lost, though. Harbour Porpoises and Atlantic White-beaked Dolphins, after their local extinction, have again started re-colonizing in the area. Recent growth in the appearance of North Atlantic Humpback Whales and Minke Whales is supposed to have encouraged visit and re-colonisation of other species as well.
Denmark, Netherland, and Germany have their own Ramsar Site in their region of Wadden Sea, whereby conservation of the Sea and its species take place. Germany itself has three Wadden Sea National Parks to conserve and preserve their part of the Sea and its ecosystem.
- Schleswig- Holstein National Park: This is the largest national park in Germany, with 68% of its area permanently under water. It is a UNESCO recognized Biosphere since 1990.
- The Lower Saxony Wadden Sea National Park: This Park conserves habitats such as Mudflats, Salt Marshes, Dunes, Estuaries as well as Beaches. It became a recognized Biosphere under UNESCO in the year 1992. The islands of Baltrum, Borkum, Langeoog, Mellum, Juist, Memmert, Minsener Oog, Wangerooge, Noderney and Spiekeroog are included in the land protected by this National Park.
- Hamburg Wadden Sea National Park: This Park is the smallest of all the three Wadden Sea National Parks. This Park is home to approximately 2000 species of birds, seabirds, and animals. The Common Seal and Gray Seal are found in large numbers in this Park. Due to the natural incursion of sediment, a high concentration of food occurs at the mouth of Elbe for seabirds. Thus, this National Park becomes an important resting place for seabirds.
Visit the Wadden Sea to witness the magic of alternating High and Low tide every six hours. These tides transform the landscape completely. When the level of water is low, you can walk right out into the mudflats and cross the Sea to reach another island altogether.
Being at the Wadden Sea will help you witness the magical play of the wind, water as well as waves with flocks of birds displaying their aerial expertise. And nothing compares to watching seals sunning themselves at a distance on a sandbank, just like humans, probably in a better and cuter way.
The Wadden Sea is a place where nature and its inhabitants come together and co-exist peacefully among one another. Species you never knew existed can be seen in the area surrounding the Sea. And it is then that you realize that neither are human beings alone nor are they magnificent in any way. Only a quality time spent at the Wadden Sea will give you such an everlasting humble experience.
- Seabirds and Seal Watching: Being one of the important wetlands for seabirds, the Wadden Sea is filled with Waders and Geese that use this wetland as their migration stopover. During the high tide, these birds gather in flocks to rest on salt marshes as well as sandbars. Climb over one of the dikes or an observation hut to get a beautiful view of things. Here, you will also get a chance to witness gray seal and common seal in their natural habitat. Go towards the sandbanks to watch a group of seals sunning and enjoying themselves. But be sure not to disturb them!
- Tidal Flat Walking: During the hours of low tide (twice a day), the Wadden Sea dries up. And this is the time where you can enjoy strolling around on a seabed. Take a professional guide with you if you wish to discover the hidden gems beneath the seabed. Cockles, worms, and prawns will be present there with you on the stroll. Watch how legions of small crabs, mussels, snails, and starfishes are revealed due to the retreating sea waves. Walking in a vast space, inhaling salty winds and watching birds of all shapes and sizes- nothing in this world can replace such a magical experience.
- Beaches: For a peaceful day by the Wadden Sea, you can easily head to a beach. All kinds of beaches await you. Whether you wish to spend some quality time all by yourself or enjoy the company of your kith in beach huts or cafes, there will always be a right kind of beach for you at the Wadden Sea. No matter which beach you choose to go in the end- vast beaches that line the islands or Green Beaches that form an inseparable part of the Dikes on the German part of the Wadden Sea- you can always indulge in a good swim around the high tide at the Wadden Sea. Take a stroll on the beach and breathe in fresh air and lend an ear to the exquisite sounds of birds and the winds.
What else is around?
So, if you decide to take a break from your hectic life and enjoy a vacation abroad, this place is where you should be. With lots to explore and enjoy, Wattenmeer is truly an amazing place where you should plan your next trip. So go ahead and visit Wattenmeer; you won’t regret it!