Nature on Sylt: These animals and plants can be discovered on Sylt

Sylt's fascinating nature never stands still. On almost 100 square kilometers the island shows itself as a paradise for big and small nature discoverers. In the sea, on the beach, in the heath: anyone who explores Sylt's flora and fauna will be amazed in summer and winter. We show you why every visit to Sylt is a very special nature experience.

Seagull at the beach surrounded by a little seaweed

Sylt's animals in the air

Sylt is as popular with birds as it is with people. Over 330 bird species alone visit the island every year. Of these, almost 100 species even build their nests and raise their young here. Birdwatchers are never bored on Sylt at any time of the year: in spring and autumn, large flocks of migratory birds can be observed, stopping off on the North Sea island on their journeys between Siberia and East Africa. From April onwards, Dunlins, Knots, Redshanks and many other waders play the leading role. From the tiny wren to the impressive white-tailed eagle, Sylt's feathered residents and visitors chirp, chatter and screech their way through the picture-perfect landscape. In autumn, the island awaits a large number of seabirds, including hen harriers and skuas. During a "Vogelkiek", an ornithological hike, you will learn a lot of exciting facts about the special diversity of Sylt's bird life, for example around the Rantum basin - highly recommended even for participants who are not familiar with ornithology.

Sylt's animals on the land

When hiking and walking on Sylt, the bleating of sheep and their lambs is part of the typical soundscape. The hoofed animals graze freely on the dike meadows and contribute to the fortification of the dikes with every step they take. Mostly silently, long ears stick out of the heather here and there in the Sylt heath. Rabbits and hares find a perfect home in the Braderup Heath. Foxes also like to roam through the protective bushes here.
Many animals on Sylt spend their lives both on land and in the water. The well-known shore crab, for example, is a master of the tides. Equipped with gills, it nevertheless manages several hours without water. Seals and grey seals, which seem rather clumsy on land, demonstrate their true elegance in the liquid element. In winter they give birth to their young off Sylt. If you are traveling with the FRS Syltfähre from Havneby to Sylt, it is worth keeping your eyes open. With a little luck, you may even spot seals and harbor seals during the crossing.   


Seals laying at the beach of Heligoland

Sylt's animals in the sea

The water around Sylt is full of life. Over 250 species of fish cavort in the cold North Sea. Some specimens, such as mackerel, cod, plaice or herring, are known as tasty food fish. Therefore, they are sometimes threatened by overfishing.
With a little luck you can even watch whales on Sylt. In July and August, the smallest whales in the world, the curious harbor whales, come especially close to Sylt's coastal areas. As they give birth to their young here, you can even observe pairs with mother and calf. You have a good chance of a sighting, for example, on the quiet stretches of beach at Sylt's Südwäldchen. You need a little more luck to experience a natural spectacle in a class of its own during the summer months: The sea glow on the west coast of Sylt. Every movement in the sea then makes the water sparkle and flash in magical blue-green - so-called bioluminescence. An impressive event, but one that is difficult to predict. If warm summer evenings, easterly winds and a calm sea come together, the signs for a maritime festival of lights are not bad. The smallest inhabitants of the North Sea are responsible for the great spectacle: "Noctiluca scintillans" is the name of the single-celled organism that only reaches a maximum size of 0.5 millimeters. If the mini-luminous animals come together en masse in summer, the magical micro-adventure on Sylt can begin.

Sylt's landscape and flora

An inconspicuous but very interesting natural area on Sylt are the salt marshes. They are located on the eastern side of the island, which faces the Wadden Sea. In the interplay of low and high tide, the seawater washes over these areas twice a day. Nevertheless, some seabirds use the meadows for searching their food and even for breeding. Numerous plants have also adapted well to the salty water. The Queller, for example, is a famous pioneer plant and at the same time a real all-rounder. With its very own strategy, it not only defies the adverse conditions, but also ensures that new land is slowly but successively created where it grows. In addition, the thick-fleshed little plant with its mild, slightly salty taste is also an extremely sought-after newcomer in the kitchen.   
The Geestheide on Sylt is a unique cultural landscape and is one of the island's natural highlights. The heath extends over 137 hectares on Sylt's east coast between Braderup and Keitum. It provides a unique habitat for numerous animal and plant species.
Germany's last shifting sand dune in List is also one of the sights on Sylt. Rubbed by the constant westerly wind, it covers a distance of around three meters every year on its way from west to east. Located in a nature reserve, it can nevertheless be approached on specially designated hiking trails. With a height of almost 53 meters, the Uwe Dune is Sylt's highest elevation. Over many wooden steps one reaches the highest natural place of the island and is rewarded with a sensational view. A popular and often photographed landmark of Sylt is the Red Cliff. It bears witness to the glacial movements of the Saale Ice Age. From Kampen beach, you can best admire the cliff, which juts out up to 30 meters above the beach. In the light of the evening sun, the iron-rich, oxidized rock glows in warm red tones - the perfect place to be mesmerized by a romantic sunset.

Syltfähre Wolken Wetter Nordfriesland Wattenmeer

Sylt's Wadden Sea

The Sylt Wadden Sea is one of the last two large wilderness areas in Europe. For this reason, it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2013. The area of just under 4,500 square meters stretches from the German-Danish border to the mouth of the Elbe River. As a species-rich ecosystem, it is home to an overwhelming variety of animals and plants and is fascinating, among other things, for their adaptability to the play of the tides there. At low tide, the sea releases the tidal flats for some time for exploration - which must be professionally accompanied. On a guided mudflat hike, you can immerse yourself in the idiosyncratic world of the mudflats and explore the life on and under the seabed. Most of the tours start at the conservation stations in Hörnum, Rantum, Keitum or Morsum. Not only for adults, but especially for children the "Wadden Sea Experience" is a special pleasure. Therefore, the Wadden Sea Ark also offers special guided tours for children. Barefoot or in rubber boots, the little ones go in search of tiny mudflat snails, colorful cockles and of course: mudflat worms. Through the snouts of these mollusks, which are about 20 to 40 centimeters long, their entire population migrates the entire seabed to a depth of 20 centimeters in the course of a year. Numerous bottom-dwelling organisms and the Wadden Sea as a whole benefit from this continuous digging up (bioturbation) of the tidal flats. Witnesses to this helpful activity are the "spaghetti piles" of mudflat worms, which decorate the seabed thousands of times.
Tip: The mudflats and beaches of Sylt are full of exciting treasures. If you can't identify a piece of nature during your discovery tours, the free app "Beach Explorer" offers support. It works like an encyclopedia. Detectively, you get closer step by step to the identification of the find and receive additional information worth knowing. nk tea.

Nature conservation on Sylt

The majority of Sylt's island area is under nature conservation. In order to preserve the island's precious natural treasure, numerous non-profit associations are active. They are all dedicated to the protection of Sylt's natural environment. The association "Schutzstation Wattenmeer e. V.", for example, has set itself the goal of preserving the Wadden Sea habitat. With bird counts, cataloging, guided tours and seminars, the members actively contribute to the preservation of the Wadden Sea. The "Naturschutzgemeinschaft Sylt e.V." cares among other things for the care and preservation of the heath. Due to the nowadays often missing agricultural use, there is a danger that the heath will otherwise become overaged and woody. By "plagging", the removal of the upper humus layer, or controlled burning of the heath, the important renewal of the heath areas is stimulated. Visitors and admirers of Sylt's nature can also make a decisive contribution to its preservation. If tourists adhere to the rules and instructions of the nature reserves and respect the needs of the wilderness, future generations will still be able to marvel at Sylt's diverse natural paradise. Tip: Those who use the FRS Sylt ferry "RömöExpress" also protect the environment around Sylt at the same time. The ship runs exclusively on LNG (liquid natural gas). Compared to marine diesel, emissions of CO2 and nitrogen oxides are significantly lower here. Particulate matter and sulfur oxides can even be reduced almost completely. Learn more here.

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Our FRS Sylt ferries "RömöExpress" and "SyltExpress" shuttle up to 32 times daily between Havneby on Römö and List on Sylt. In summer, the last ferry departs for Römö at 9 pm. This way you can enjoy Sylt particularly long.

Both of FRS Syltfähre's ferries driving


Our ferries "RömöExpress" and "SyltExpress" run up to 32 times a day between Römö and Sylt. On board, you can expect a restaurant with delicious dishes as well as a selection of GOSCH products, shopping opportunities and open decks with beach chairs, lots of fresh air and a North Sea feeling.

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The car ferries are a particularly inexpensive way to reach Sylt. Our prices for cars apply to vehicles up to 6 metres in length. All accompanying persons are already included in the price. A reservation is free of charge.