The Hamburg Wadden Sea National Park is an exclave of the city state of Hamburg in North Germany and lies 12.5 km off Cuxhaven in the estuary of the Elbe in the North Sea (German Bight). This part of the Wadden Sea lies inside the area of the Lower Saxon Wadden Sea National Park and also includes the islands of Neuwerk, Scharhörn and Nigehörn.
It is made up mainly of sand and mixed mudflats with shallow creeks, sand bars (Plaaten) and the aforementioned dune islands. In accordance with a ruling by the Hamburg Parliament on 9 April 1990 the area was reclassified as the Hamburg Wadden Sea National Park. On 5 April 2001 the law was updated and the national park area expanded as a result. The total area of the national park (Zones 1 and 2) is 13,750 hectares (53.1 sq mi). The Zone 1 areas are under special protection. Thus, for example mudflat hiking and horse and carriage rides are only permitted on designated routes.
Within the national park there are about 2,000 species of animal, of which about 250 only occur in the salt marshes of the Wadden Sea. Of particular note are the Common Seal and the Gray Seal. Due to the natural influx of sediment, there is a high concentration of food for young fish and seabirds at the mouth of the Elbe. The national park is therefore an important resting and moulting area for seabirds.
For example, Shelduck live on the snails that are found in hundreds of thousands on the surface of the mudflats. The approximately 180,000 birds of the north-western Shelduck population spends also their moulting period from July to September in the Wadden Sea, which is protected by the three national parks in the states of Lower Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein and Hamburg. About 200,000 eider ducks also spend their moulting season here; about 1,000 pairs of eiders also use the mudflats of the North Sea as a breeding area. Most of them breed on the island of Amrum.
Biosphere reserve :
Since 1992 the national park has also been designated as a biosphere reserve, something which increases the importance of the park, because since then it has been placed under international protection in accordance with the UNESCO programme, "man and biosphere". The national park management is responsible for the care of the biosphere reserve and its national aspects.