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Eastern German Bight SPA


Transcript of the Eastern German Bight SPA video

The Eastern German Bight Special Protection Area (SPA) is especially important to sea birds in the southern North Sea. The purpose of the site designation is to maintain and restore this unique marine area in its function as a feeding, wintering, moulting, transit and resting site for many endangered bird species. Key species include red-throated diver, black-throated diver, little gull, sandwich tern, common tern and Arctic tern (Annex I species) and, among regularly occurring migrants, common gull, lesser black-backed gull, northern fulmar, northern gannet, black-legged kittiwake, common guillemot and razorbill. Extensive conservation objectives are laid down for these species in the legislation designating the site.

Boundaries of the SPA

Northern gannet (Sula bassana). Photo: M. Merker (FTZ)
Photo: Northern gannet (Sula bassana). Photo: M. Merker (FTZ)

The outline of the site mainly reflects the distribution centres of two wintering species – the red-throated diver and the arctic loon. It is bounded to the east and south by the 12-mile zone (German territorial waters), where it adjoins the Heligoland sea bird conservation area and the Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea National Park, both of which are nominated as Special Protection Areas under the European Birds Directive.

As the Eastern German Bight SPA overlaps the Sylt Outer Reef Natura 2000 site, it also includes important sandbanks and reefs, which serve as feeding habitats for the sea birds.


Sandwich tern (Sterna sandvicensis). Photo: S-E. Arndt
Photo: Sandwich tern (Sterna sandvicensis). Photo: S-E. Arndt
Black-headed gull (Larus ridibundus). Photo: K. Wollny-Goerke
Photo: Black-headed gull (Larus ridibundus). Photo: K. Wollny-Goerke

Key species in the SPA
Key species Number in the SPA*
Red-throated diver 540 (Wi) 3.300 (Sp)
Black-throated diver 60 (Wi) 280 (Sp)
Common tern 240 (Su) 900 (Au)
Arctic tern 190 (Sp) 650 (Au)
Sandwich tern 140 (Su) 70 (Au)
Little gull 330 (Wi) -
Common gull 7.800 (Wi) 1.700 (Sp)
Lesser black-backed gull 1.600 (Su) 1.100 (Au)
Great black-backed gull 200 (Wi) 501-1.000 (Au)
Black-legged kittiwake 950 (Wi) 3.500 (Su)
Northern gannet 230 (Sp) 110 (Su)
Common guillemot 2.600 (Sp) 1.300 (Wi)

Key conservation objectives

To ensure that the listed bird species survive and grow in number, and to safeguard their habitats, it is necessary to maintain and restore:


  1. The population size and population quality of the bird species, with the aim of attaining good conservation status taking into account natural population dynamics and population trends; species whose biogeographic population is shrinking are prioritised
  2. The birds’ main direct and indirect food sources, and in particular the natural population densities, age range distributions and geographical distribution patterns of organisms serving the bird species as food sources
  3. The site’s characteristic, heightened biological productivity at vertical fronts in the water, and its geo-hydromorphology with the related species-specific ecological functions and effects
  4. Unfragmented habitats in the area, each with their own species-specific ecological functions and spatial interrelationships, along with unrestricted access between these habitats and neighbouring marine areas
  5. The natural quality of habitats, and in particular their protection from pollution and harm, and protection of the bird populations from major disturbances

Importance of the SPA for red-throated and black-throated divers

Red-throated diver (Gavia stellata). Photo: S-E. Arndt
Photo: Red-throated diver (Gavia stellata). Photo: S-E. Arndt
Black-throated diver (Gavia arctica). Photo: S-E. Arndt
Photo: Black-throated diver (Gavia arctica). Photo: S-E. Arndt

Red-throated and black-throated divers breed in Scandinavia during the summer. In autumn, they migrate south to their wintering areas, some of which are in German waters, where they stay from November to early March. The Eastern German Bight SPA protects the main parts of their wintering area in the German North Sea. They are found there in large numbers from late winter and on into spring (1 March to 15 May) while they build up sufficient fat reserves for the return journey to their northern breeding grounds.


Black-legged kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla). Photo: S-E. Arndt
Photo: Black-legged kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla). Photo: S-E. Arndt
Common guillemot (Uria aalge). Photo: S-E. Arndt
Photo: Common guillemot (Uria aalge). Photo: S-E. Arndt

Natura 2000 sites in the German North Sea EEZ:

 

North sea

Dogger Bank

Sylt Outer Reef

Borkum Reef Ground

Eastern German Bight

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