Seals are not that hard to find around Schouwen-Duiveland. The clean water, the space and the rest 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 drying plates or curiously swim along when you sail over the water.
There are two types of seals in the Zeeland waters, the common and the gray. The common seal is the smaller of the two, the males reach a maximum of 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 run in a V shape.
The gray seal is considerably larger and can grow up to more than 3 meters (males). He distinguishes himself in particular by his straight muzzle and separate nostrils. The fur 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 sunbathe in groups but live solitary. A mother takes care of her young only briefly, about four weeks. In danger she saves herself and not her young. Even if she loses her young for other reasons, she will not go looking. These howls are sometimes found on time and taken to one of the two seal nurseries (Texel and Pieterburen) to be fed and cared for.
Both Staatsbosbeheer (forest management Grevelingen) and the tour boats on the Oosterschelde regularly organize seal safaris. The counter staff of the Schouwen-Duiveland Tourist Office can tell you more about it.
A large group of porpoises lives in the Oosterschelde. Regular research and counting by the Rugvin Foundation show that the harbor porpoise has established itself and even reproduces in this national park. This is a unique situation for a partially closed sea arm.
The hot spot for harbor porpoises is the harbor chief at Zierikzee. You also have a good chance to see them at the port of Burghsluis, Kats and at the Plompe Tower. A pair of binoculars and a cloudy day (then they stand out better against the water) lend a hand. From June there is a chance that you will also see the calves. The Oosterschelde is currently the only area in the Netherlands where porpoises breed.
In the past porpoises were found in large numbers along the Dutch coast. Pollution and overfishing meant that the number of porpoises was at a low point in the 1980s. In the meantime, the situation has improved again. Since some fifteen years more and more porpoises have been spotted and you can see them swimming more often.
The porpoise is one of the smallest cetaceans. They reach no more than 1.90 m and weigh between 50 and 70 kilos. They look for their food, consisting of sprat, herring, squids and crustaceans, on and around the seabed. They usually dive for about three minutes and then come up for one and a half minutes. Usually you see no more than a back with the triangular dorsal fin.
If you find a sick, injured or dead seal or harbor porpoise, you can call in the EHBZ (First Aid for Seals). For Zeeland the telephone numbers are: +316-53763628 and +316-51958070.
These volunteers can treat and care for the animals that are still alive and take them to the seal sanctuary Pieterburen. If the seals are healthy enough, they are released in the vicinity of the original site.