A world of mudflats, salt marshes and sandbars, where the tides transform the landscape twice a day. The nature reserve was originally a river estuary with an open connection to the sea, but the construction of the Delta Works changed the dynamics completely. Today, the Oosterschelde National Park is a shallow estuary with 800 billion liters of water flowing in and out in the course of every tidal cycle.
A rich underwater world
The Oosterschelde is a National Park with a remarkable underwater world. The largest mammals in this area are the seals and harbor porpoises. The latter is the most common cetacean along the Dutch coast. There are several diving schools making it possible to examine the sea life of the Oosterschelde up close. If you take such a diving trip, you will be amazed at the rich underwater world with oysters, crabs, lobsters, clams, flatfish, shrimp and many other kinds of fish and shellfish.
The sea, and the impact of the tides in particular, brings forth a huge wealth of plants, seaweeds, animals and molluscs. Examples are samphire and sea aster. Join a guide and seek out the delicacies that live in the Oosterschelde on the Zilte Zaligheden (Briny Delicacies) tour or a wild seaweed walk. Or enjoy the goodness brought ashore by the fishermen: tasty mussels, Oosterschelde lobster, oysters, and clams from Zeeland.
Internationally unique bird habitat
Whether it is summer or winter, you can see plenty of bird species on and around the Oosterschelde. They are here to breed, rest, and wait out winter. When the tide is low, oystercatchers, redshanks, curlews, and spoonbills forage out on the dry mudflats and sandbars. When the tide is high, they rest on the salt marshes, clay reclamation fields, and polders behind the dikes. Tip: Watch where the birds are to see if the tide is high or low.
Explore the Oosterschelde
There are numerous ways to explore the Oosterschelde. Besides the many biking and hiking trails, you can also go beach combing, visit a mussel farm or make a trip in boots over the tidal marshes and mud flats. The Oosterschelde is a paradise for both the fishing enthusiast and the birdwatcher. In summer you can swim, snorkel or paddle at one of the many beaches around the Oosterschelde.
Do you have any children? Then a visit to Neeltje Jans is worth the trip. Here the history of the Delta and the operation of the storm barrier is explained in a lively and playful way. Children also have direct access to the local flora and fauna.