Pacific oysters in the Wadden Sea
The Wadden Sea is teeming with Pacific oysters, but this wasn't always the case. In the past, only the European oyster was found here. However, the species was struck by disease in 1922 and disappeared throughout Europe within a few years. To bring oysters back to European waters, Pacific oysters were stocked in the 1960s. The Pacific oyster has since spread and formed large oyster beds in the Wadden Sea. The beds are often completely covered in oysters, and at first glance they may look like rocks or shells - in reality, they are teeming with life. Pacific oysters are considered an invasive species that risks killing the local mussels - oysters feed on the same food as mussels. Therefore, it is only helping the Danish nature when we humans pick oysters to eat. As always when foraging in nature, you shouldn't pick more than you can fit in a hat.
Plan your trip
The oyster season lasts from 1 October to the first week of April. As a tourist, you can sometimes find the culinary gems yourself. Anyone is free to collect oysters for their own consumption, but there are some things to be aware of. Therefore, read our guidelines "Important to know when collecting oysters" on this page before you set off. If you want to be sure to avoid risk and get the full experience, we recommend booking a guided tour with one of our partners. They offer oyster safaris where skilled guides take groups to oyster beds along the Wadden Sea coast. Find a tour provider under "Book a guided tour".
Important to know when collecting oysters
- Beware of toxic algae in the water, as it can lead to algae poisoning. Check with the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration before you set off. They will warn you if there is toxic algae in the water.
- Do not pluck or eat oysters in May, June, July and August. A good rule of thumb is that you can eat oysters in all months with an "r".
- Watch the tides. Listen to travelling advice as tides and changing weather can put you in dangerous situations in a short period of time.
- Do not pick oysters near river, sewage or harbour outlets to avoid disease-causing bacteria.
Read more about Pacific Oysters
How to be the best guest when gathering oysters
- Only go out on flat water - until just after low tide. If in doubt, go out with a local guide.
- Always dress for the conditions - the wind can be cold and exhausting. Oysters can easily cut holes in bags, clothes and shoes - remember gloves.
- Never go out alone and don't go further than you are able to return. Always carry a charged mobile phone.
- Collect only what you can eat and fill no more than the equivalent of a hat or carrier bag.
- Pick up any rubbish you find and take it with you - even if it's not yours, and especially if you find it on the seabed.
Fotos: T H Christensen/Frame & Work, Colin Seymour, Wasabi Film