Seals in the Wadden Sea

The seals thrive in the Wadden Sea. The area is a large pantry, and the many sandbanks are a safe place for the seals to gain strength and give birth to their young.

Harbor seal rests on sandbar. Photo by Tandrup Naturfilm

Shy animals - remember binoculars

The vast majority of seals in the Wadden Sea are harbour seals, but you may also be lucky enough to encounter the large grey seal, which has become more common in recent decades. Harbour seals especially use the Wadden Sea sandbanks to rest and give birth to their pups in the summer. In addition, there are plenty of fish and crustaceans, which are the seal's primary food - the seal chooses to eat the fish that are easiest to catch. Seals are shy animals and very sensitive to human disturbance. Keep a safe distance and let the seals laze on the banks in peace. With binoculars, you can still observe the fascinating animals.

Plan your trip

For many, spotting seals in the wild is a great experience, and it feels like the greatest success when you succeed! Fanø and Mandø are frequently visited by the animals, so you have the best chances here. For the full experience, we recommend booking a guided tour with one of our partners, whose nature guides take the public to the seal banks in a responsible manner. Find a tour guide under "Book a guided tour". To experience the seals up close, the Sealarium at the Fisheries and Maritime Museum is an excellent choice. Here you can see harbour seals and grey seals gliding majestically through the water through the windows. At one of the two daily feedings, you can learn more about the life and biology of seals.

Howlers and sick seals on the beach

During the harbour seal's breeding period, a pup will sometimes get away from its mother and crawl onto the beach, where it calls to its mother by howling very loudly and persistently. However, the pup - a so-called howler - is usually not abandoned. It can easily be left alone for several hours while its mother swims for food. However, if humans approach the pup, it can prevent the mother from returning. The pup will be reunited with its mum, so just let it howl in peace.

However, sick seals do sometimes crawl onto land to keep warm. This happens especially in late summer and autumn. If you come across a seal that seems sick, you should leave it alone and contact the Wadden Sea Nature Agency on tel. +45 72 54 33 31 or the Fisheries and Maritime Museum on tel. +45 76 12 20 00 so they can help.

Guests on a seal safari at an appropriate distance from the seal bank. Photo by Lars Gejl

Help us look after the seals

  • We enjoy the seals from a distance. As a rule of thumb, keep a distance of 300 metres to a group of seals.
  • We spend a maximum of 30 minutes with the animals. If there are several boats close by, minimise the time.
  • Move alongside the group of seals and not directly towards them. Avoid loud and sudden noises around the animals.
  • Minimise the noise of vehicles and boats and avoid rapid changes in direction and speed. Avoid switching engines on and off or changing gears as this creates sudden noises.
  • We do not approach abandoned seal pups, but quietly leave the area without disturbing them.
  • We do not bring pets to the seals' resting places. In particular, dogs should be avoided as the seals may perceive them as potential predators.
  • We never feed or touch the seals, as this can lead to aggressive behaviour in the animals. There is also a risk that seals can infect humans and pets with diseases. This also applies to dead seals.
  • We never take selfies with seals, but remember that they are predators and take photos from a distance.

Read more about seals

The grey seal, with its more horse-shaped head, is Denmark's largest predator. Photo by John Frikke
The spotted seal pup rests on a sandbar with the rest of the pack. Photo by John Frikke