The pulse of the Wadden Sea
As a visitor to the Wadden Sea, you will encounter unique landscapes, nature and wildlife found nowhere else in Denmark. It is first and foremost a product of the tides, which for millennia have alternated between washing over the flat coastal land at high tide and then retreating, exposing large areas of the seabed at low tide. Over time, this pulsating movement has carried large amounts of both sand and nutrients into shallow water and across the mudflats. In this way, the changing water level has created both the wide, white beaches and the lush marshland. The water adds lots of nutrients and organisms to the mudflats, providing food for a rich ecosystem.
Where you can experience the tide
It's easy to see the tide in real life, as it can be experienced along the entire Wadden Sea coastline. However, there are some places where the difference between high and low tide is particularly noticeable. The so-called gates (which are channels that drain the marshes) are great for illustrating the tides. South of the river Brede Å, there's a lock that is full of water at high tide, while it's almost empty at low tide. The same goes for Havsand Lå on Rømø. But Mandø is probably the place where the tidal influence is most obvious. The only access to Mandø is via Låningsvejen, which is raised half a metre above the seabed. But this only applies at low tide - at high tide, the road is completely flooded. That's why it's crucial to check the tide tables before you set out on this road.
If you don't want to venture out on your own, or if you just want to get the most out of your trip, you can also book a guided tour with one of our partners, whose skilled guides will take you out on the water and talk to you along the way.
Flooded twice a day
The tides are a product of the moon's gravity. There is exactly six and a quarter hours between high and low tide, which means that the sea floods the Wadden Sea twice in 25 hours - all year round. Approximately one billion cubic metres of water wash back and forth over the mudflats a little more than twice a day. The mud and sand that the water carries with it is distributed along the Wadden Sea coast. The sand is the heaviest and settles when the current loses speed just off the coast. The mud, on the other hand, only settles when the water stops further inland. That's why you'll find sand on the coasts, while the nutrient-rich mud and mud clay are further inland in the river valleys.
Read more about tides
How to be the best guest when experiencing the tides
- We check the tide tables thoroughly before we set off. The times of high and low tide change every day. Also check the water level forecast, as the wind also affects the tide.
- We are aware of the weather and the surroundings. The large amounts of water can move around on the seabed and where it was safe to go last time, it may no longer be safe.
- We only go out at low tide, preferably on falling water. If in doubt, we only go out with a local guide.
- We never go out alone and we don't go further than we are able to return. We always carry a charged mobile phone.
- We pick up the rubbish we find and take it with us - even if it's not our own, and especially if we find it on the seabed.
Fotos: Thorkild Jensen, Svend Tougaard
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