UNESCO World Heritage Site #86: The Wadden Sea
World Heritage Site #86: The Wadden Sea
From the World Heritage inscription:
The Wadden Sea comprises the Dutch Wadden Sea Conservation Area and the German Wadden Sea National Parks of Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein. It is a large temperate, relatively flat coastal wetland environment, formed by the intricate interactions between physical and biological factors that have given rise to a multitude of transitional habitats with tidal channels, sandy shoals, sea-grass meadows, mussel beds, sandbars, mudflats, salt marshes, estuaries, beaches and dunes. The inscribed site represents over 66% of the whole Wadden Sea and is home to numerous plant and animal species, including marine mammals such as the harbour seal, grey seal and harbour porpoise. It is also a breeding and wintering area for up to 12 millions birds per annum and it supports more than 10 percent of 29 species. The site is one of the last remaining natural, large-scale, intertidal ecosystems where natural processes continue to function largely undisturbed.
The Wadden Sea was made a World Heritage Site just weeks before I arrived in the Netherlands. As I stood on the shore of the sea I was trying desperately to find something I could take a photo of that was a good representation of the sea. At low tide there are a series of islands where birds land. I was there at high tide however so it was just a bunch of water, which left me nothing. Moreover, it was an overcast day which made little contrast with the sky and water. The is probably the worst photo I have ever published as my Daily Photo, but in the interest of completeness I offer it up as the best thing I could come up with at the shore of the Wadden Sea.
I revisited the Wadden Sea in 2013 while touring Germany and had a much better experience than what I had in the Netherlands. I visited the Hamburg Wadden Sea National Park near the town of Bremerhaven.
The key to any Wadden Sea visit is to time it so that you are there during low tide. During low tide you can walk out a considerable distance and in some places actually walk to nearby islands. In Bremerhaven they even had towers you could climb in the event that you get stuck out in the flats during low tide.
Since my first visit in 2009, both the German and Dutch governments have improved access and interpretative programs for the Wadden Sea. Rather that just visiting a random spot on the coast, visit a park facility in either country to get a better understanding of the sea and the creatures which live there.