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Dieren en planten

Water en land

Coastal areas   Salt marshes   Biotope   

Mens en Milieu

Salt marsh (the Slufter on Texel), Ecomare

Salt marshes

Salt marshes are pieces of land directly bordering shallow tidal areas, such as the Wadden Sea; there are no dunes and dikes in between. Salt marshes flood with seawater during extremely high water levels or storms. Salt marshes are also found in the delta region, but here they call them 'schorren'. Sand and mud particles suspended in the seawater flooding the marshes subside between the plants and don't easily wash away. In this way, salt marshes gradually expand and grow higher.

On Texel


slufter, texel, foto fitis, sytske dijksen

Up till 1830, Texel has a giant salt marsh, the Buitenveld. In the course of the 19th century, it was reclaimed in phases. The diked areas are now known as the Eijerlandse polder, the Eendracht and het Noorden. There is still a small piece of the 'Buitenveld' remaining, the nature reserve the Schorren. The other large salt marsh on Texel lies in the valley of the Slufter. There are also salt marshes along the Mok Bay and a kilometer north of De Cocksdorp.

  • Salt bath
    Sea lavender during an extremely high tide, Ecomare

    There is a big difference between low and high marshes. Low marshes are almost always inundated with water during high tide while high-lying marshes only flood during tidal storms. Due to the regular salt bath on the marshes, only those plants resistant to a high salinity level in the soil are able to grow. Salt marshes form an extremely rare type of nature area, containing a unique flora and fauna. In earlier days, 25% of the Netherlands was made up of salt marshes! Most of them were reclaimed centuries ago.

  • Salt marshes along the flats and in the Dutch delta region
    Distribution of the salt marshes, Ecomare

    The largest salt marshes in the Netherlands are the Boschplaat on Terschelling and the Flooded Land of Saeftinge in Zeeland. A salt marsh has obvious vegetation zones. On the lowest areas, you find salicorn and tussocks of cord-grass. Sea meadow grass grows in the next zone higher up on the marsh, close to the high-tide waterline. Sea lavender, sea wormwood, sea purslane, sea aster and salt-marsh sand spurry grow midway up the marsh. This part only floods with salt water during high floods. On the high part of the marsh, you find thrift, red fescue and sea couch.

    Present-day management of the marshes varies per area. Sheep or cattle graze on some; others are left alone. Not all marshes developed naturally. Those along the Frisian and Groningen coast are artificial. They were created when people built low dams to allow the mud to precipitate.

  • Nesting on the salt marsh

    Coastal birds, such as terns, gulls and oystercatchers, like to make their nests on salt marshes. Spoonbills do that on marshes in the wadden region as well. Such a spot so close to the nutrient-rich tidal channels is naturally ideal for raising fledglings. But there is also danger. Because summer storms occur more often in recent years, salt marshes are becoming less safe to nest.