Of flotsam and driftwood - a story about the Baltic Sea

Bansin © Andreas Dumke
Bansin Andreas Dumke 3

The sea at our feet, the Baltic Sea, is said to be a capricious lover. Sometimes bubbling and foaming, then mirror-smooth and polished. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, locals and guests love the Baltic Sea, which at 412.560 square kilometers is the largest brackish sea in the world.

The almost 12.000-year-old inland sea, which was created by the melting of the glacier masses from the Vistula glacial period, is today the habitat of around 85 million people. Since ancient times, the Baltic Sea has been essential to people - for trade routes, fishing and coastal tourism. Even today, eight percent of world maritime trade is conducted on the Baltic Sea, although it only accounts for 0,1 percent of the surface of the world's oceans.

A little anecdote about the Hanseatic League:
In the middle of the 13th century, the Hanseatic League, including Greifswald and Anklam, served to secure the transport of goods across the Baltic Sea. But did you know that the term "teasing" also comes from this association of cities? In order to be accepted into the Hanseatic League, the merchants had to endure a series of jokes, pranks and tests of courage - the so-called "teasing".

The fish population in the Baltic Sea, which is increasingly threatened by the lack of oxygen and pollution, also puts an abrupt end to the long tradition of fishing. Cod and herring are having an increasingly difficult time in the Baltic Sea, which is why the EU has not only reduced the catch quotas. In order to preserve the natural beauty of the coast with its fauna and flora, there has been the "International Coastal Cleanup Day“ – a cleaning day, so to speak, which is supposed to free the sea and the coasts from garbage or at least relieve it.

But the 12 protected areas in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, which cover 23 percent of the state area, also protect the native flora and fauna. Half of this area can be found around the Baltic Sea, including the Usedom Nature Park. It is not for nothing that the island is also called the “green island by the sea”, with the 63.200-hectare park including Baltic Sea beaches, dunes and cliffs as well as inland coasts, lakes, moors, forests, meadows and fields. In total, about 50 percent of the Usedom Nature Park consists of bodies of water, with the sea having a special feature with its shifting sand. But what is wandering sand? Of course, the beach doesn't disappear, but the water carries the sand further. A compensatory coast is created - and this happens on many stretches of coast in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

Speaking of sand: did you know that the Sand and Kleckerburg originated in the second half of the 19th century? They were built near or even around the beach chair to mark the boundaries to the beach neighbors. Today you can find more and more works of art, created by children's hands, at the edge of the sea. So be careful: don't step on it when you go for a walk on the beach.