About Seals and porpoises
Seals (seals) are not so difficult to find around Schouwen-Duiveland. The clean water, space and tranquility have a positive influence on these animals and they thrive here. Quite large populations live off the coast of Renesse, in the Oosterschelde and in the Grevelingen. They rest on the tidal flats or swim with curiosity as you sail across the water.
There are two types of seals in the Zeeland waters, the common and the gray. The harbor seal is the smaller of the two, the males grow up to 1.95 m. The animals usually have dark spots on their gray, dark brown or black fur. The head is small in relation to the body. The nostrils are in a V-shape.
The gray seal is considerably larger and can grow up to over 3 meters long (males). It is distinguished in particular by its straight snout and separated nostrils. The coat is usually gray but can also be dark brown and black. Females are usually lighter and have dark spots. The males have large, broad heads and three four wrinkles in the neck.
The seals bask in groups but live solitary. A mother only takes care of her young for a short time, about four weeks. In danger she saves herself and not her cub. Even if she loses her young for other reasons, she will not search. These howlers are sometimes found in time and taken to one of the two seal crises (Texel and Pieterburen) to be fed and cared for.
Both Staatsbosbeheer (Grevelingen) and the tour boats on the Oosterschelde regularly organize seal safaris. The desk employees of the VVV Schouwen-Duiveland can tell you more about it.
A large group of porpoises lives in the Oosterschelde. Regular research and counts by the Rugvin Foundation show that the porpoise has definitely established itself in this national park and even reproduces there. This is a unique situation for a partially closed sea arm.
The hotspot for porpoises is the harbor head at Zierikzee. You also have a good chance to see them at the port of Burghsluis, Kats and at the Plompe Toren. Binoculars and a cloudy day (then they contrast better with the water) will help. From June there is a chance that you will also see the calves. The Oosterschelde is currently the only area in the Netherlands where the porpoises reproduce.
Porpoises used to be found in large numbers along the Dutch coast. Pollution and overfishing caused porpoises to hit rock bottom in the 1980s. The situation has now turned around for the better. Since about fifteen years more porpoises have been spotted and you can see them swimming again.
The porpoise is one of the smallest cetaceans. They grow to a height of 1.90 m and weigh between 50 and 70 kilos. They search for food, consisting of sprat, herring, squids and shellfish, on and around the seabed. They usually dive for about three minutes and then surface for a minute and a half. Usually you see no more than a back with the triangular dorsal fin.
If you find a sick, injured or dead seal or porpoise, you can call in the EHBZ (First Aid for Seals). The telephone numbers for Zeeland are: 06-53763628 and 06-51958070.
These volunteers can treat and care for the animals that are still alive and bring them to the Pieterburen Seal Sanctuary. If the seals are healthy enough, they are released near the original site.