What a meeting place! Zeeland, where land and water come together, nowadays mainly in harmony. Here you’ll see seals and porpoises weave among the traces of a centuries-long struggle against the sea. It took breaches in dikes years ago to create what are now such creeks and marshes as the Noord- en Zuid-Braakman. The quirky shapes of the Oosterschelde barrier are the relics of that battle between land and water, but down the coast you’ll see Europe’s largest and shapeliest salt wetlands of the drowned (Verdronken) Land of Saeftinghe. Dive below the waves in the Oosterschelde estuary and you’ll see it’s the meeting place where cuttlefish come to breed.
There are salt marshes, mudflats, polders and dikes galore, but equally forests and dunes. Together they form a very varied landscape. On Schouwen-Duiveland, the unique Plan Tureluur nature area is also known as the ‘boulevard of birds’ of Zeeland. Over in the forest of the Manteling headland area are woods, bushes and dunes where – hey, look over there! – the fallow deer walk among the trees.
Nature is wet and warm
Zeeland is, geographically, part of the larger ‘Voordelta’ area before the coast of Zeeland and the islands of the Zuid Holland province (to the north). The rivers Maas, Rijn and Schelde have branched off before reaching the North Sea. A rich ecosystem with dozens of protected animal species, it’s home to porpoises and good old seals. One species not protected but remarkable all the same are the cuttlefish squid who converge here to breed, in the Oosterschelde estuary.
Seals to be seen
What seals the deal for a seal? Clean water, peace and quiet, sandbanks and plenty of sun. No wonder they feel at home in the waters of Zeeland. In the Oosterschelde, Westerschelde and Grevelingen you’ll catch one sticking its head above water, with those typical big round eyes. And lounging in the sun on one of their sandbanks. From the shore you can see them well enough, but go out on a seal safari and you’ll see some from astonishingly close up.
You’ll learn so much more if you visit some areas with a specialist. Go walkabout with a forest ranger, or with a guide in the Verdronken Land wetlands of Saeftinghe. They tell all about the flora and fauna you’ll see as you move around. Or take one with you when you go beachcombing, or on a boat outing, or as you walk your way through the Prunje polder or the Manteling forest.