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Helgoland is a small island in the North Sea, about 2-3 hours from the German coast by boat. Some years back there was almost no tourism in winter time but that changed with the Gray Seals (Kegelrobben) appearing on the shores to breed an getting their little babys. Other than the normal seals, Gray Seal babys can not swim in the first two weeks and are covered with a white fur and just lay around on the beaches. This only happens in wintertime from end of November till beginning of January and is a great experience to come close to Germanys biggest predator (we don’t really have any). Luckily until now nothing has happend and people are allowed to come close to the animals but as more and more Gray Seals come and also more and more people visit this will come to an end at one point.
Well I got extremely lucky with the weather (some days in between 2 storms). Winter is time of storms and bad weather but I had more sun than bad weather. To get there the ferry ride took about 3 hours from Cuxhaven with very calm sea. Lots of photographers were on board. But other than photography the island is know for duty free shopping and a huge collection of Single Malts… (which are probably needed for bad weather ;).
My every day routine was getting up early, taking my winter clothes on like I was going to ski – packed my heavy photo equipment and off to the (cold and windy) beach. In my eyes it was totally worth it. Great experience, you get really close to the animals. Even if officially it should be 30m the animals are not keeping the distance ;). Some are quite curious. Also you have to watch your back for seals coming behind you ;). Really fun to watch. Especially the young babys and also the mating rituals and fights.
The way back to Cuxhaven a storm was coming up and it was a bumpy ride (next day the service stopped due to the storm). I enjoyed it but some had fun with the sea sickness bags ;).
If I would live in North Germany I would definitly go again, but from the South it needs a lot more planing, flights to Hamburg, Train to Cuxhaven, stay overnight, next morning ferry… and the same back. Lets see if it is still allowed to get so close next year. It definitly is a uniqe experience to watch those animals from that close distance.
Enjoy the pictures

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