Kachelotplate – Uninhabited German Wadden Island
What Germany calls Nordsee-Insel, the Netherlands calls Wadden Islands. They are in inhabited and uninhabited state and Kachelotplate is one of the uninhabited Wadden islands in the German Wad. It lies between the two inhabited islands of Borkum and Juist. Kachelotplate is a protected nature reserve, where you are not allowed to just come and where you cannot moor your boat without permission. You can’t even fly over it. It is the area of the birds, pioneer vegetation and seals.
The sandbar that became an island
- Heater plate
- Sperm whale
- Between Borkum and Juist
- Walking islands
- Birds on Kachelotplate
- Seals on Kachelotplate
- World Heritage Wadden Sea
Kachelotplate is a German Wadden Island that belongs to the East Frisian Wadden Islands. It is the youngest of the German Wadden Islands; it was recognized as an island in 2013. Then it was big and high enough to be called an island. Kachelotplate measures about 3 by 1.3 kilometers and is about 172 hectares. At high tide it no longer washes under, dunes have formed and the island is getting higher and higher. The highest dune is three meters above sea level and a grass cover grows on the highest part of Kachelotplate. The island can only be reached by boat.
Kachelotplate is larger than 160 hectares, is overgrown, has dune formation and remains dry at high tide. That is why it can call itself an island. For that it had to be at least 160 hectares and it can manage that with its 172 hectares.
Kachelotplate is an island formed by the wind, on which dunes were formed and grasses started to grow. The island has been found on maps since 1840 and the name is said to have been derived from the French cachelot, which means sperm whale.
Between Borkum and Juist
The Kachelotplate is located about five kilometers southwest of Juist and seven kilometers east of Borkum. The island lies between these two inhabited islands. It is located three kilometers northwest of the bird island Memmert. The Niedersächsischer Landesbetrieb für Wasserwirtschaft, Küsten- und Naturschutz, NLWKN, the body that provides coastal defense in that area of Germany, thinks that Kachelotplate and Memmert will eventually grow together into one island. The Kachelotplate moves in the direction of Memmert.
The channel that flows between the two islands is getting shallower and can no longer be used as a navigation channel. It is not possible to say with certainty which way things are going with the islands. They can take a long time to become one, but they can also be wiped off the map by a storm surge.
All Wadden Islands are walking islands. They move from west to east. On the west side the island is shrinking and on the east side the tail is getting longer. This is the case with all islands that face east-west, from Texel to Wangerooge. From Pellworm to Fanø, the German and Danish islands facing north-south, different forces play a role.
From all the sand that crumbles from the large islands, small islands such as Kachelotplate can form and grow. The sand goes with the water and comes to rest elsewhere in the Wadden Sea. New plates can form from such sand accumulations and from them, with the help of wind, sun and plants, new islands.
Birds on Kachelotplate
Kachelotplate is a high tide refuge for the wading birds and various species breed there. It is a protected nature reserve within the German Wadden Sea National Park, National Park Wattenmeer. The area may not be entered and no boats may moor. It is also not allowed to fly unnecessarily over the island.
Seals on Kachelotplate
Seals live on the island. It is a resting place for both harbor seals and gray seals. Researchers discovered in 2006 that gray seals settled there. Since then, a gray seal colony has developed on the east side of the plate. They not only rest there, but also give birth and nurse there. There are a few hundred of them.
Between 1951 and 2001, the Kachelotplate developed from an elongated island to a sickle-shaped plate complex into a compact island. The NLWKN keeps a close eye on the development of the island. The development of the island tells something about the dynamics of the Wadden Sea.
World Heritage Wadden Sea
It is precisely this dynamic landscape that was one of the reasons for the Wadden Sea to be declared a World Heritage Site. The Dutch and German Wadden Sea has been a World Heritage Site since 2009. The Danish mudflats joined in 2014. The entire Wadden Sea is of course World Heritage.
The German Wad has several uninhabited islands
- Lütje Hörn
- Heater plate
- Alte Mellum
a. Heater plate