Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Wadden Sea Excursion

After taking a quick bike ride around the hostel and through the town of Hollum, we biked out to our first activity of the weekend: A Wadden Sea Excursion. The walk through the mudflats of the Wadden Sea was lead by a ranger from the Wadden Sea Foundation. I donned my wellies and was ready to walk through the mud and the mist (apparently brought on by the warm weather)!

Although the walk was narrated only in German and Dutch (few Americans or Britons wander this far into the Netherlands), our guide kindly translated the highlights for us. The walk started on the dyke next a nesting colony of 10,000+ birds. Our guide lead us out on the mudflats (80% of the Wadden Sea is "dry" during low tide) and explained the ecosystem along the way. He started at the bottom and pointed out the plankton in the shallow pools of salt water. He even dug up a few varieties of worms and showed us their egg sacks - green slime ball looking things.

In this map, you can see the shallow waters of the Wadden Sea south of Ameland. (Larger Map)

Then he moved up a rung on the food chain and focused on the shell fish in the area. He taught us how to fish for cockles, explained how over-fishing had killed the local mussel population, and showed us the oyster beds.

It was amazing to think you can walk from the island back to the mainland and only encounter waist-deep water 3 times in an approximately 5 mile walk. We had hoped to complete a full walk from the mainland to the island while in Ameland, but there is only so much time...

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