Mudflat Programme

The mudflat programme is a central activity of the IWSS-programme and forms the basis for following activities like “Water laboratory” and “Bird programme”. To walk on the bottom of the sea and to discover life in the mud are unique experiences. The IWSS mudflat programme provides first-hand experiences in this fascinating habitat and introduces geographical, biological and ecological aspects of the Wadden Sea. It is recommended to use nature experiencing games and interactive elements during the excursion.

The pupils...

  • get an individual multi-sensory impression of the Wadden Sea
  • get to know the characteristic elements of the Wadden Sea landscape (marshland, sea walls, saltmarshes, mudflats with tidal channels, dune respectively marsh islands, etc.)
  • learn what tides are, how they work and what role they play in the development and ecology of the Wadden Sea.
  • learn that there are different kinds of mud in different areas of the Wadden Sea. They learn about grain sizes and how sedimentation and erosion are affected by the tides and the velocity of flow.
  • learn that there are different layers of soil in which different chemical reactions occur. They learn what effect the supply and lack of oxygen has on the organisms.
  • learn that the Wadden Sea is a highly dynamic system and that human activities like embankment interfere with the natural dynamic.
  • learn about abiotic factors such as temperature, salinity, oxygen, tides and currents and how typical organisms have adapted to these special conditions.
  • learn to identify and recognize typical organisms of the mudflats. They learn about the biology and ecology of the some characteristic creatures.
  • get to know the concept of food chains and webs with primary production, consumers and reducers and learn to apply it on the Wadden Sea.
  • learn that the Wadden Sea is a special habitat with harsh environmental conditions to which only a few species have adapted, that occur in high numbers.
  • learn that the Wadden Sea is a young and highly dynamic ecosystem and that the species composition is partly influenced by human activities: due to pollution, etc. numerous species have (almost) disappeared whereas others have been introduced.
  • learn that the Wadden Sea is a worldwide unique and vulnerable ecosystem that needs our joint protectionWater laboratory

Water Laboratory

Many morphological and biological features of Wadden Sea organisms can only be seen on closer inspection. In the Water laboratory programme the pupils get the chance to discover the “great small world” of typical species of Wadden Sea animal and algae and to conduct simple experiments that illustrate characteristic processes of the Wadden Sea ecosystem (i.e. sedimentation, biological filtering, etc.)
The pupils learn…

  • how to use a (stereo) microscope
  • to identify invertebrates by means of identification keys
  • details about the morphology, movements and behaviour of some typical invertebrates including plankton (samples taken during the mudflat programme)
  • how to measure salinity and pH-value (compare freshwater to saltwater), what these values are and what effects they have on organisms, i.e. how animals react to different concentrations of salt
  • about characteristic processes that occur in the Wadden Sea, i.e. how molluscs work as natural water filters, how particle size effects sedimentation, etc.

Bird Programme

"East Atlantic Flyway Games", "Wader Migration Game", etc.

Birds are fascinating animals that occur in many species and high numbers all over the Wadden Sea. They are easy to observe and many ecological features and relations can be explained taking birds as examples. Especially migratory birds illustrate the international importance of the Wadden Sea.

During the IWSS bird programme pupils are introduced to bird watching and the birds´ role in the Wadden Sea ecosystem.
The pupils learn…

  • how to use binoculars and telescopes.
  • to identify and recognize typical bird species of the Wadden Sea.
  • that exceptionally high numbers of migratory and breeding birds occur in the Wadden Sea and that it is therefore an important bird area with international protection status.
  • that birds migrate with the seasons (repetition of the video) and that the Wadden Sea is a vital stepping stone on the routes of many species.
  • that the birds use the abundance of food (seen during the mudflat programme!) to build up fat reserves or to raise their young.
  • that the different species have specialised in different kinds of food and how they feed. The pupils get to know the concept of an ecological niche.
  • that the birds use different areas of the Wadden Sea for different purposes (mudflats to feed on, sands and saltmarshes to roost or breed).
  • learn that the Wadden Sea countries have an international responsibility for the welfare of 10-12 million birds migrating along the East Atlantic flyway

Fishing Programme

Fish and other species that live in the sea are often less well-known than terrestrial life, simply because observing them is much more difficult.
The fishing programme offers the chance to discover the fascinating underwater world and to learn about the marine ecosystem. Furthermore the programme provides insight into the role fish play as natural resource and the related conflict issues.
The pupils…

  • learn to identify and recognize typical species of fish and other marine animal (crustaceans, echinoderms, etc.) of the Wadden Sea
  • learn that the species of fish found in the Wadden Sea can be classified as sedentary and migratory fish as well as occasional visitors
  • learn about the importance of the Wadden Sea for the different groups of fish (i.e. as a “nursery”) and what role the various species play in the ecosystem (food pyramid, food chain, etc.)
  • get to know and learn how to use different kinds of fishing techniques and equipment such as shrimping nets or dragnets
  • learn about traditional and modern fishery and the related conflict issues i.e. bycatch, threats to marine mammals, overfishing, etc. (link to bird programme!).
  • learn about endangered species of fish and other marine animal


In an entertaining quiz show on the last evening the pupils get the chance to show what they have learned during the course. The questions and possible answers are visualized via overhead or meeting room projector. The winning team gets a prize.

The pupils…

  • repeat facts of all relevant topics (nature & landscapes, culture & history, impact & protection)
  • repeat numerous Wadden Sea vocabulary
  • are encouraged to work in teams to find the right answer

Ending & Outlook

At the end of the course, usually after the Quiz show or on the last morning, there will be a final meeting with the group and the course leaders. This meeting closes the programme and provides an outlook on the pupils´ future interest in the Wadden Sea and commitment to nature conservation.
The pupils…

  • get the chance to review their experiences and impressions of the course
  • learn where they can find more information on issues that rose their interest (webpages, books, etc.)
  • learn how and where they can get involved in nature conservation at home (i.e. local youth groups, summer camps, etc.)
  • are encouraged to apply the insight and knowledge they have gained to their everyday life at home (i.e. choice of food, use of natural resources, etc.)
  • get the chance to comment on the course
  • say good bye to the course leaders