Posts Tagged ‘North Sea’

Allure of the Wadden Sea

Monday, July 24th, 2017

 

Whether you call it Wadden Sea in English, Wattenmeer in German, Waddenzee in Dutch or Vadehavet in Danish, what takes place twice each day within this 310-mile stretch along the coastline of the North Sea is nothing short of spectacular. I am referring to the coastal intertidal belt that encompasses an area of almost 4,000 square miles. Twice each day, the North Sea rises to its highest level (high tide), covering the intertidal zone; and twice each day, the sea level falls to its lowest level (low tide), revealing the intertidal zone. Each day, land appears and then disappears again.

The Wadden Sea near Cuxhaven at low tide. Photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2014. www.walled-in-berlin.com

The Wadden Sea near Cuxhaven at low tide. Photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2014. www.walled-in-berlin.com

Where are the Wadden Sea National Parks?

The Wadden Sea National Parks are located along the German Bight of the North Sea and include the wetlands of the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark. In 1986, UNESCO declared the Wadden Sea a biosphere reserve. The area stretches from Den Helder in the Netherlands, past the Elbe and Weser river estuaries of Germany, to Skallingen in Denmark. Divided from each other by only administrative borders, the parks form a single ecological entity. The landscape of the Wadden Sea was formed by storm tides in the 10th to the 14th centuries, which carried away the land behind the coastal dunes. The small remaining islands within the Wadden Sea are remnants of former coastal dunes. Winds, waves and the tides continually reshape the landscape with constant pressure from every angle.

Flora and fauna of the Wadden Sea

The Wadden Sea is the largest unbroken system of intertidal sand and tidal flats on our planet. Geologically, it is an extremely young area. Its unique landscape hosts habitats found nowhere else in the world. Up to 6.1 million birds have been present at the same time, and an average of 10-12 million pass through the area each year. The salt marches host 2,300 species of flora and fauna. The marine and brackish areas hosts an additional 2,700 species as well as 30 species of breeding birds http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1314. The wetlands are home to creatures of all sizes ranging from the smallest, like worms and crabs of all sorts, to seals and dolphins that have re-colonized the area in large numbers. Hundreds of thousands of gulls, terns, ducks and geese use the Wadden Sea as a stopover, a wintering or a breeding site.

A typical inhabitant of the Wadden Sea is the Wattwurm (lugworm), which lives in a U-shaped tube beneath the surface. Their casts produce unique patterns in the sand. Photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2014. www.walled-in-berlin.com

A typical inhabitant of the Wadden Sea is the Wattwurm (lugworm), which lives in a U-shaped tube beneath the surface. Their casts produce unique patterns in the sand. Photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2014. www.walled-in-berlin.com

 

From the shore, the Wadden Sea looks flat and almost uninteresting, but once you get away from the shore, you’ll find yourself in another world. It feels a bit like having left planet earth and travelling in a parallel universe. Much of the wetlands can be explored on foot or by horse-drawn carriage. http://www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/wattwagenfahrt-endless-discovery/

 

For a sneak peek at the first 20+ pages of my memoir, “Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom,” click “Download a free excerpt” on the home page of http://www.walled-in-berlin.com

The Strandkorb – Distinctly German

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

August is beach season, and a “sun-sand-sea-and-wind holiday”on Germany’s North Sea and Baltic beaches almost always involves renting a Strandkorb. These distinctly German beach baskets allow their occupants to soak up the sun while avoiding the scouring sand that frequently travels the windswept beaches. Besides, a Strandkorb quickly becomes “home away from home” when beachgoers build a low wall of sand–called a castle–around their basket and decorate it with seashells. For generations, Germany’s beaches have been dotted with legions of these beach baskets each summer.

What is a Strandkorb?

A Strandkorb is a sturdy, adjustable armchair for two, made from wicker, cane and/or wood and allows its occupants to curl up in the basket’s interior or to soak up the sun’s last rays while all stretched out. A small built-in table makes it possible to lunch or dine at water’s edge. But the Strandkorb is much more than a utilitarian piece of furniture. It is a uniquely constructed piece of art that comes with many options, such as drawers at the base that serve as foot rests and storage, backward-tilting roofs, armrests with foldaway trays, heated seats and rainproof covers. There are even special models for children and pets.

Strandkorb around 1950 , Photo © J. Elke Ertle 2014, www.walled-in-berlin.com

Strandkorb around 1950 Photo © J. Elke Ertle 2014, www.walled-in-berlin.com

Strandkorb History

In 1882, the noble woman Elfriede von Maltzahn asked Wilhelm Bartelmann, chief basket maker to the Imperial Court of Emperor Wilhelm I, to built her a beach chair.  She asked for protection from excessive sun and wind while accommodating her rheumatism. Mr. Bartelmann designed a large, canopied, single-seated armchair. Considering that beach furniture was unheard of prior to 1882, Mrs. von Maltzahn’s Strandkorb became the envy of beachgoers in Warnemuende that year, the sea resort on the Baltic Sea she frequented. Encouraged by the enthusiastic reception of his armchair, Bartelmann designed a two-seater the following year, and his wife opened a beach basket rental service. Since then, the Strandkorb hasn’t left the German beach scene.

The Strandkorb Today

Todays Baltic and North Sea beaches are dotted with more than 70,000 of these covered wicker beach baskets. Two distinct variations have evolved: The straight angular North Sea Strandkorb and the rounded Baltic Sea model. But these beach baskets are no longer relegated exclusively to the beach. You also see them on balconies and patios. A friend of mine received a Strandkorb as a retirement present and uses it to relax in her garden. Despite their weight (up to 200 lbs), the baskets are shipped all over the world. It takes around $700-$3,000 plus shipping costs to become the proud owner of a Strandkorb.

 

For a sneak peek at the first 20+ pages of my memoir, Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom, click “Download a free excerpt” on the home page of http://www.walled-in-berlin.com. Walled-In is a story of growing up in Berlin during the Cold War.