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The Frisian islands are constantly 'on the move'. Sand is washed away from their Western and Northern side and deposited further East. The map of the tidelands is undergoing a permanent change. You would not recognize the islands on a map that's 200 or 500 years old.
The dunes serve as natural protection, but they alone are not sufficient. Since gales and floods provide danger every winter and people do not want to relocate their villages every couple of decades, the coastlines, especially on the Western ends of the islands, are heavily fortified with dikes and spur dikes. New sand, either from the Ems waterway or the Eastern end, has to be pumped and washed onto the Western beaches every year, otherwise they'd disappear quickly.
Written Jul 13, 2008
The Wattwurm (lugworm, photo 2) is, in a way, the heraldic animal of the North Sea tidelands. These worm live in the tideland ground in a U-shaped tube. The head sucks in the soil, thus forming a little funnel, which is then digested and emitted by the rear end, forming those little worm-shaped piles (photos 1 and 3).
Walking the tidelands you'll see their traces everywhere. Hardly ever one peeps out of its hole - they know that seagulls and other birds love eating them.
The tourist industry has discovered the Wattwurm as topic. Wattwurm souvenirs are everywhere - want a plush lugworm in pirate or sailor outfit (photo 4)?
Butcher shops on Borkum even sell long thin sausages named Wattwürmer .
Written Jul 13, 2008
Everywhere on the dikes you'll see flocks of sheep grazing. By keeping the grass short they are doing an important work for the protection of the coastline which no other animal could do. Sheep bite the grass off without tearing out the roots. Their little hooves do not cause holes in the turf.
A dense and solid turf cover is important. Any hole may become dangerous in case of a storm tide. The waves may hollow out the dike and cause it to break.
Dear hikers and bikers, do not walk on the slopes of the dikes. Stay on the paved paths, because your shoes may very well tear holes into the turf.
Written Jul 12, 2008
The two brick structures named Großes Kap and Kleines Kap both carry a wooden triangle on top. They serve as sea signs to help sailors identify the island they see on the horizon. Kleines Kap is situated on a dune close to the end of the beach promenade (nice view!), Großes Kap further East among the dunes next to a huge sanatory building.
All islands have such structures, each in a unique shape.
Written Jul 12, 2008
The Eastern part of the island is closed to all traffic. Cars cannot proceed further than Ostland, bikes to the foot of the Sterndüne. The dunes and the Eastern beach are a protected nature reserve. There are a few hiking paths, the rest is closed to grant wildlife the necessary quietness, protect the dunes and the birds' nests - please stay on the trails.
Sterndüne is a rather high dune - 16 metres above sea level! - and a nice viewpoint. The view extends to the neighbourting island of Juist, the sandbanks and the mainland coast.
The typical vegetation of the dunes consists of beach grass, low willow bushes, wild roses and sea buckthorn. Pink and white rose flowers add beautiful colours in early summer, red rose hips and orange buckthorn berries in autumn. This picture was taken in late September.
Written Jul 7, 2008
The Calvinist Church (Reformierte Kirche) was built in the late 19th century to replace the old and ruined church next to the old lighthouse. Its story is quite interesting - the ones that wanted a new church building weren't the inhabitants of the island. A group of visitors from all over Germany who spent each summer on the island wanted a bigger and more suitable church. They elected a commitee, organized the collection of donations and finally hired an architect from Berlin who designed the new church, which was built in 1896-97. The church doesn't look like a Frisian village church but like a city building in the then modern neo-medieval style.
Inside the church a votive ship is on display that was donated to the old church in the late 18th century.
Written Jul 6, 2008
This misshaped vessel passes Borkum every now and then on its way into the Dollart and towards Emden. Doesn't it look more like a brick than like a ship that travels the oceans?
I learned that this type of ship is a car transporter, meaning that this one most probably loads the products of the Volkswagen factory in Emden.
Written Jul 4, 2008