This year, the week-long biology study trip of grade 10 took place on the East Frisian Island of Spiekeroog, which is part of the National Park Wadden Sea and is an UNESCO World Heritage. It is one of the largest coherent tidal ecosystems in the world. We were able to use the well-equipped research centre on the island, which is run in collaboration with the University of Oldenburg. This made it possible for us to examine the discoveries we made under a microscope and also conduct experiments.
Together with Carsten Heithecker, a member of staff from the national park, we explored on daily excursions the ecosystem of the Wadden Sea and its distinct animal habitats. We were able to experience the formation of dunes with its very distinct plants and the intertidal mudflats with its animals, which have to cope with a continuously changing environment. We further explored the salt meadows and the experimental islands, which were built by the University of Oldenburg as part of a science project, including a bird excursion as part of the programme.
In the lab we conducted an impressive science experiment on the photosynthesis of algae. Accompanied by an expert, we took samples, which we examined in the lab and then assigned to biological phenomena. On one excursion we interactively derived the evolution and history of the Wadden Sea, from a historical-time as well as from a biological, geographical and geological aspect.
Another highlight of our stay on Spiekeroog was the visit of Prof. Dr. Karsten Reise. For many years he was at the director of the marine biology institution on Sylt. As a professor at the University of Kiel he was a key driver behind the fact that the Wadden Sea finally obtained its status as a UNESCO world heritage. Karsten Reise accompanied us from Thursday evening until our departure on Saturday sharing and inspiring us with his vast knowledge.
Also of great interest was the boat trip with the local fishermen during which we, together with Prof. Reise, determined the catch from the sea and further discussed the biological peculiarities. We also passed the seal banks where we were able to look at the seals from a very close range.
We further discussed environmental problems and highlighted the connection between global causes and the local impacts. Although we explored and worked a lot, we did not miss out on recreational activities. On Tuesday morning we rode Icelandic horses down at the beach, which, for some of us, was a completely new and exciting experience. We also participated in an evening sailing trip with students and teachers of the Hermann Lietz High School on Spiekeroog, which was very enjoyable. The week was a fantastic experience for all the participants with great weather and many exciting adventures.