Seals aren't very difficult to find around Schiermonnikoog. Its beautiful nature, the clean water, space and tranquility certainly has a positive impact on these animals, and it makes them thrive. Seals look cute and seem to live the ideal life. They lounge a lot on the beach and soak up the sun. Furthermore, they swim occasionally and eat fresh delicious fish.
Off the coast of Schiermonnikoog live fairly large populations. The number of seals around the Wadden islands is growing rapidly. Exact numbers aren't know of course because they swim around a lot. But once they feel comfortable somewhere they keep coming back to that area. And they're everywhere. Most of them around Terschelling where they comfortably lie on the sandbanks.
The Dutch waters are home to two kinds of seals; the regular and the gray one. The regular seal is the smallest of the two, the males can grow up to two meters. The animals usually have dark spots on their gray, dark brown or black pelt. The head is small in proportion to their bodies. The nostrils have a V-shape. The gray seal is considerably larger and can be up to three meters long. They distinguish themselves by their straight noses and separated nostrils. Their pelt is usually gray, but it can also be dark brown and even black.
The seals lounge in groups, but live a solitary life. A mother cares only briefly for her young, about four weeks. In danger, she saves herself and not her young. If she loses her young for whatever reason she won't look for it. Those pups are sometimes found on time and brought to a seal sanctuarie.
Seals feel quite comfortable at a reasonable distance from humans. Some seals you come across in the middle of the sea swim curiously along with you. On the sandbanks they gather in large groups. Here they rest in the sun and raising their young. Therefore it is essential that they're not disturbed. Seals prefer to lie on sandbanks where they feel safe. Those are usually shallow plates, and then they lie on the steep sides. That way, they can quickly go into the water when they sense danger. In summer time occasionally boaters decide to go to a sandbank with seals. Then they disappear in an instant, and it's also prohibited.
For the general public the seals are one of the the trademarks of the Wadden Sea. The Wadden Sea is the perfect environment for seals: the exposed sandbanks during low tide form the ideal location to rest or raise their young. Especially on the sandbanks around Terschelling various large groups of seals are present. It's possible for visitors to the Wadden Sea are to catch a glimpse of the seals in their natural habitat. The best moments you can spot the seals are:
- During a special seal boat trip.
- From the ferry on the way to a Wadden Sea island
- During a mudflat hike or sailing trip; However, keep your distance, because the animals flee if you get too close.
- From the beach. Between two hours before low tide until an hour after seals are usually sunbathing on a sandbank somewhere. It's best to see them with binoculars or a photo camera with a good zoom option. That way you can also see the seals from the beach.