North Sea Coast Attractions
Situation and characteristicsThe German North Sea coast, some 300km/185mi long as the crow flies, is divided into two parts, the East Frisian and the North Frisian area, by the estuary of the Elbe.
Off both stretches of coast lie a string of islands which have become popular holiday resorts. The coastal area is an expanse of flat fenland protected by dikes, outside which is the Watt, an area of mud-flats that are dry only at low tide. The estuaries of the East Frisian rivers are protected from the inflow of sea water by siele, gate-like sluices that close automatically at high tide.Off the North Frisian coast are the Halligen, islands that are relics of an expanse of fenland not protected by dikes. Some of them are connected to the mainland by causeways.EcologyThe harmful substances with which the North Sea is polluted come from various sources. Many rivers carry down salts, heavy metals and chemical residues from industry and discharge them into the sea. Further pollution is caused by the dumping of dilute acids, the disposal of incinerated refuse and the uncontrolled jettisoning of ships' waste. The mortality among seals and the explosive growth of algae in recent years have been the most visible results of this endangering of the environment. In many areas there have been joint efforts by local people and holiday-makers to control pollution of the sea; a first "Holiday-makers' Parliament" was held at Frankfurt am Main in 1988; and the Association for the Protection of the German North Sea Coast (Schutzgemeinschaft Deutsche Nordseeküste) is active in working for a clean North Sea and an unspoiled coast.
North Sea Coast National Parks
The whole of the North Sea coast from the Danish frontier to the Elbe estuary, together with the North Frisian Islands, now form the Schleswig-Holstein Wattenmeer National Park. Southwest of this extends the Lower Saxon Wattenmeer National Park, which takes in the East Frisian Islands. Thus the German North Sea coast is an almost continuous protected area, interrupted only by the main shipping lanes.
North Frisian Islands - Wattenmeer National Park
The North Frisian Islands, off the coast of the Eiderstedt Peninsula, form part of the Wattenmeer National Park.The tidal flats are home to a diverse variety of sea life and host an extraordinary variety of birds. The islands, especially the sand dunes and beaches on Amrum and Sylt, are also very attractive. The best time to observe birds is in spring and autumn.
"Watt" is the name given to a coastal strip of land which at low tide is dry and at high tide is covered by the Wattenmeer. Along the German North Sea coast the Watt is between 7 and 10km (4.5 and 6.5mi) wide, most of it lying inshore of the North and East Frisian Islands.WarningAt low tide the Watt may look a tempting area for a walk, but it can be dangerous. In some parts of this flat coastal area the tide comes in with incredible speed, and visitors can easily be caught by the advancing waves, which move fast. Walking in the Watt, therefore, should only be undertaken with a knowledgeable guide, or at least after consulting the local tide tables.Flora and faunaThe unusual natural conditions in the Watt have given rise to an abundance of highly specialized forms of life. The Watt bottom consists of recent marine deposits (sand, silt, clay) with a high proportion of organic substances, which form the first link in the food chain. The Watt has little in the way of plant life: near high-water mark there are glassworts (Salicornia europea), farther seaward eelworts (Zostera), and occasionally also algae and seaweed. Most forms of animal life, therefore, have adjusted to the movement of the tides, either burying themselves in the ground at low tide or living permanently there. Only a few shellfish manage to survive above ground by storing water in their shells. Most of the denizens of the Watt (worms, shellfish, crustaceans) feed on organic substances floating in the water or lying on the bottom which they absorb in the water they breathe in or take in on the surface of the Watt. Some shellfish, shrimps and bristle worms are predators or scavengers.
There are three North Frisian Islands with prehistoric evidence of early human settlements. As with other Frisian islands, the seaside resorts offer beaches and sunshine to travelers.
East Frisian Islands consist of seven islands that feature seaside resorts with lovely beaches, bird sanctuaries, museums, and a golf course on the largest island, Norderney.
Situation and characteristicsWilhelmshaven, situated on the west side of Jade Bay, a 5km/3mi wide inlet on the North Sea coast, was until 1945 primarily a naval port. It is now an important oil terminal and has a variety of industry (chemicals, metalworking, engineering, textiles). It has a Marine Biological Research Station belonging to the Senckenberg Society and an Ornithological Institute.
The Town Hall is a handsome building in clinker brick (by Fritz Höger, 1927-29). From the 49m/161ft high tower there are panoramic views.To the east is the Kurpark.
Wilhelmshaven's extensive port installations lie to the south of the town. On Bontekai are a number of museum ships. On a disused section of railroad track can be seen an old steam engine.Beyond this, on the South Beach, is a sea-water aquarium.