Release seals into the wild at the Wadden Sea, the Netherlands

When I was looking for a fun day activity to do in the Netherlands, my friend Karen from Wanderlustingk mentioned something she did earlier. As I loved the idea, I set out with my boyfriend this weekend too and we went to Pieterburen to release seals into the wild at the Wadden Sea in the Netherlands.

This might have been the most fun I had ever had on a day activity and once the day was over, my heart was fluttering with excitement and cuteness overload. We went to the seal rescue centre in Pieterburen, Groningen and at the end of the day; we released 3 seals back into the wild at the Wadden Sea.

When you travel to the North of the Netherlands you can visit the seal rescue centre in Pieterburen and even release seals into the wild at the Wadden Sea!

If you’re travelling to the Netherlands soon, and you’re looking for a fun day trip from Amsterdam or things to do in Groningen or Friesland with or without kids, than a visit to the seal rescue centre in Pieterburen might interest you. If you love animals as much as I do, you can release seals into the wild at the Wadden Sea too!

Read more: 3 countries border in Limburg, the Netherlands

When you travel to the North of the Netherlands you can visit the seal rescue centre in Pieterburen and even release seals into the wild at the Wadden Sea!
Big male seal on the sand bank in the Wadden Sea

Seal Rescue Centre in Pieterburen

The seal rescue centre in Pieterburen is actually quite old. The little village of Pieterburen is located in the province of Groningen, all the way in the North part of the Netherlands. It is right at the beach, overlooking the Wadden Sea and you can see the island Schiermonnikoog from the beach.

When you travel to the North of the Netherlands you can visit the seal rescue centre in Pieterburen and even release seals into the wild at the Wadden Sea!
The Seal Rescue Centre in Pieterburen, the Netherlands

It all started when someone rescued a sick seal from the beach and nurtured it in a tub in the backyard. Soon, the seal rescue centre in Pieterburen evolved from a backyard first aid for seals, into a full blown rescue centre. They have quarantine wards, heated and monitored 24/7. They have a sick ward and an outdoor play pen for the little seals that are strong enough to go outside. Eventually, all seals that are healthy enough will be released back into the wild at the Wadden sea.

When you travel to the North of the Netherlands you can visit the seal rescue centre in Pieterburen and even release seals into the wild at the Wadden Sea!
the ‘temporary’ units have been there for 20 years.

Unesco World Hertitage: the Wadden Sea

The Wadden Sea is a unique nature reserve off the coast of the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark. Little islands for the coast created a unique eco-system where the tides control nature. Due to the tides a variety of species and flora can flourish at the Wadden Sea. When the tides are right, you can even walk from the mainland to the islands, off course under supervision to learn and to keep safe! Read more about the Wadden Sea and why Unesco enlisted it. Interested in ‘wadlopen’ as the activity is called? Check out this website.

Read more: Unesco World Heritage sites in Orange, France

When you travel to the North of the Netherlands you can visit the seal rescue centre in Pieterburen and even release seals into the wild at the Wadden Sea!
Chilling at the Wadden Sea

Visit the Seal Rescue Centre in Pieterburen

Although the seal rescue centre in Pieterburen is a research and rescue centre for seals, you can also visit it. They allow visits to educate people about the influence humans have on the nature in the Wadden Sea and the habitat of the seals and also to raise awareness about our impact on the animals. The entrance fee is used to fund the rescue centre and all their activities.

To find out more about location, prices and opening hours, visit the website of the Seal Rescue Centre in Pieterburen. As Pieterburen is quite far from places like Amsterdam, you might want to book a hotel in Pieterburen or the surrounding area. Excellent excuse to crash and recover from the seal cuteness overload!

When you travel to the North of the Netherlands you can visit the seal rescue centre in Pieterburen and even release seals into the wild at the Wadden Sea!
These seals will be released tonight!

Sustainable travel and animals

I know many people don’t like to visit zoos because they feel animals should not be kept in a cage. You might feel the same way about the seal rescue centre in Pieterburen, but after my visit there I can inform you it is one of the moist sustainable ways to travel and see animals. Although you pay an entrance fee, all funds go towards the rescue of seals. The whole centre is set up with the focus and priority on research and rescue of seals. The exhibit at the centre is focused on education and information and the main focus is to release seals back into the wild at the Wadden Sea.

There are even more ways to support the centre, for example by donations or a look behind the scenes.

Read more: Sustainable travel: free tours of paid tours?

When you travel to the North of the Netherlands you can visit the seal rescue centre in Pieterburen and even release seals into the wild at the Wadden Sea!
Super cute baby seals

A look behind the scenes

For only €2,50 you can join a one-hour tour behind the scenes of the seal rescue centre. You get to see the quarantine quarters and you can see the kitchen. You can get a little bit closer to the seals who are already outside and you get a ton of information about how the rescue centre operates and what the problems for the seals are and why they need our help sometimes. For me, I felt like this was a must-do when you visit the centre to learn more about the seals.

When you travel to the North of the Netherlands you can visit the seal rescue centre in Pieterburen and even release seals into the wild at the Wadden Sea!
Education about how dangerous seals are
When you travel to the North of the Netherlands you can visit the seal rescue centre in Pieterburen and even release seals into the wild at the Wadden Sea!
3 week old baby seals in the quarantine unit.

Release seals into the wild at the Wadden Sea

The main reason for our visit to Pieterburen was to release seals into the wild at the Wadden Sea! How exciting is that?! The seals will be released by the people of the rescue centre and you can join them. It will cost €40,00 to join but this money will go directly back to the seals. The boat will go out anyways, with the seals and the volunteers. By allowing people to join, they raise more money for the rescue centre without an extra impact on the Wadden Sea or the rehabilitation of the seals. It felt like an extra thing we could do to support the seal rescue centre in Pieterburen and have a fun day for ourselves too!

When you travel to the North of the Netherlands you can visit the seal rescue centre in Pieterburen and even release seals into the wild at the Wadden Sea!
The grey seal has a longer snuit and his nostrils are in a V-shape.

At 5.30 pm, three wooden crates with the seals were loaded on board our boat. We’d set out for almost an hour on the Wadden sea, to release them into the wild at a sandbank. The seals were offloaded first and their crates where places on the beach.

When you travel to the North of the Netherlands you can visit the seal rescue centre in Pieterburen and even release seals into the wild at the Wadden Sea!
The grey seal is a very curious seal as you can see.

We joined them at an appropriate distance to see their first steps back into the wild! I was so excited. The centre rescued 2 seals with lungworm and they were almost 1 year old. The other seal was a lot younger and was abandoned by his mother.

When you travel to the North of the Netherlands you can visit the seal rescue centre in Pieterburen and even release seals into the wild at the Wadden Sea!
but she was a bit anxious too.

Pictures of the seals released into the wild at the Wadden Sea

My boyfriend, who is a professional photographer, took his tele lens to take these amazing images. Don’t think we were that close to the animals, we kept our distance as they took their first swim in the Wadden Sea after almost 3 months!

When you travel to the North of the Netherlands you can visit the seal rescue centre in Pieterburen and even release seals into the wild at the Wadden Sea!
Hello there!

The two common seals almost ran out their crates and splashed into the water quickly. They swam around for a good 10 minutes before they disappeared. The little grey seal was a bit more anxious and took his time. That moment when he finally decided to take the leap and robbed into the surf was amazing. My heart was exploding with adrenaline and overflowing with love. The whole sight was so cute and wonderful to witness.

Below you can find more images of the seal released into the wild at the Wadden Sea. Feel free to look for dates and activities at the seal rescue centre in Pieterburen to see if you can join such an activity too! Or you can just donate your money so they can continue their work to release seals into the wild at the Wadden Sea.

When you travel to the North of the Netherlands you can visit the seal rescue centre in Pieterburen and even release seals into the wild at the Wadden Sea!
Freedom after 3 month at the rescue centre!
When you travel to the North of the Netherlands you can visit the seal rescue centre in Pieterburen and even release seals into the wild at the Wadden Sea!
Splashing around in the Wadden Sea after intense treatment for worms.
When you travel to the North of the Netherlands you can visit the seal rescue centre in Pieterburen and even release seals into the wild at the Wadden Sea!
Getting out the crate and making a run towards the sea.
When you travel to the North of the Netherlands you can visit the seal rescue centre in Pieterburen and even release seals into the wild at the Wadden Sea!
Not sure if I can come out just yet…
When you travel to the North of the Netherlands you can visit the seal rescue centre in Pieterburen and even release seals into the wild at the Wadden Sea!
Awhhhhh bliss!
When you travel to the North of the Netherlands you can visit the seal rescue centre in Pieterburen and even release seals into the wild at the Wadden Sea!
First swim into the Wadden Sea
When you travel to the North of the Netherlands you can visit the seal rescue centre in Pieterburen and even release seals into the wild at the Wadden Sea!
Still very curious and alert!

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Are you thinking of travel to the Netherlands? Do you look for a sustainable way to travel and see wild animals at the Wadden Sea? Then the activity to release seals into the wild at the Wadden Sea might be the right fit for you! Let me know if you have any questions or just want to share how cute the pictures are. You can use the comment section below!

When you travel to the North of the Netherlands you can visit the seal rescue centre in Pieterburen and even release seals into the wild at the Wadden Sea!
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When you travel to the North of the Netherlands you can visit the seal rescue centre in Pieterburen and even release seals into the wild at the Wadden Sea!
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When you travel to the North of the Netherlands you can visit the seal rescue centre in Pieterburen and even release seals into the wild at the Wadden Sea!
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When you travel to the North of the Netherlands you can visit the seal rescue centre in Pieterburen and even release seals into the wild at the Wadden Sea!
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9 Comments

  1. I want to do this. I mean I REALLY want to do this. I went wadlopen many years ago, from Pieturburen, and loved it. Now I need to add this. Thanks for this post. I’d never heard of them. On my next trip to NL, I can see a trip north is in the cards.

  2. Claire

    Aww they are such cute animals, those photos are fab! I would definitely do the behind the scenes tour, and for €40 the trip out to release them is also good value too, for a once in a lifetime trip!

  3. Wat leuk Naomi… ik kwam hier via je IG foto… ik zocht nog een familie dag bestemming voor later dit jaar. Misschien bij deze gevonden. 🙂 Onze meiden (van 3 en 4) zouden t volgens mij fantastisch vinden. Mooie foto’s hoor!

  4. Awesome post! I really enjoyed reading this one. I didn’t even know this place existed and it’s amazing how much history it has. I would absolutely love to do this some day. It’s so nice knowing that the effort is out there to help these seals. I really love that you explored and experienced this, I really hope to some day!

  5. What a wonderfully rewarding experience! I can see why you rate it right up there as one of your best ever travel-related experiences. I love your photos too – really, really good, and you’ve really captured the seals beautifully. Who knew they were such expressive creatures? 🙂

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