Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research

Conservation of the dynamic Island of Griend

To investigate the effects of the recovery project, and to find out more about the natural functioning of this Wadden Sea island, an intensive four-year research project has started that will run until 2020. Tracking and tracing the movements of Sanderlings and documenting their diet is part of the program.

The Island of Griend located in the Western Dutch Wadden Sea. Photo: Emma Penning

The Island of Griend

Griend is a small uninhabited island in the middle of the Dutch Wadden Sea. Natural erosion processes would make this type of islet 'wander' through the Wadden Sea, but the protecting sand dyke created decades ago had washed away. In the summer of 2016, sand and shells have been resupplied so that natural processes can take their course again. At the same time vegetation cover on the island has been removed to ensure breeding habitat for terns and gulls. The new very low and 400 m wide sand bank protects against erosion from the west, and 'feeds' the island with sand to stimulate growth at the north and south sides. This sand bar apparently is an attractive feature for Sanderling.

A central hub for Sanderlings

Already before the restoration, Griend was a central hub for Sanderlings foraging on the mudflats of the western Dutch Wadden Sea. We expected that they would continue to roost on Griend after the restoration, because the barren and open character of the new sand bank Griend would offer a safe place for Sanderlings. But this turn-out of >21,000 birds is more than we dared to hope for! Our brand new tracking data shows that indeed they use a variety of feeding locations throughout western Wadden Sea. 

Information about the restoration of Griend (in Dutch) at: and National Geographic Nederland·België.

Project information
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Vereniging Natuurmonumenten
1 May 2014 - 1 Jul 2020
  • Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands
  • University of Groningen (RUG), The Netherlands

Meet the team

Bijleveld, Allert
Senior Scientist
Govers, Laura
Senior Scientist
Piersma, Theunis
Senior Research Leader
Dekinga, Anne
Senior Research Assistant
Horn ten, Job
Senior Research Assistant
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