Minsener Oog
Minsener Oog, also Minser Oog or Minsener Oldeoog, is an uninhabited East Frisian island
East Frisian Islands
The East Frisian Islands are a chain of islands in the North Sea, off the coast of East Frisia in Lower Saxony, Germany. The islands extend for some from west to east between the mouths of the Ems and Jade / Weser rivers and lie about 3.5 to 10 km offshore...

, that belongs to the parish of Wangerooge
Wangerooge is one of the 32 Frisian Islands in the North Sea located close to the coasts of the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark. It is also a municipality in the district of Friesland in Lower Saxony in Germany.Wangerooge is one of the East Frisian Islands...

 in the north German district of Friesland. It has been artificially enlarged through the construction of groyne
A groyne is a rigid hydraulic structure built from an ocean shore or from a bank that interrupts water flow and limits the movement of sediment. In the ocean, groynes create beaches, or avoid having them washed away by longshore drift. In a river, groynes prevent erosion and ice-jamming, which...



The island
An island or isle is any piece of sub-continental land that is surrounded by water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atolls can be called islets, cays or keys. An island in a river or lake may be called an eyot , or holm...

 is located just two kilometres southeast of the island of Wangerooge
Wangerooge is one of the 32 Frisian Islands in the North Sea located close to the coasts of the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark. It is also a municipality in the district of Friesland in Lower Saxony in Germany.Wangerooge is one of the East Frisian Islands...

, from which it is separated by the creek of Blaue Balje, and four miles north of the mainland
Mainland is a name given to a large landmass in a region , or to the largest of a group of islands in an archipelago. Sometimes its residents are called "Mainlanders"...

. The nearest towns on the mainland are Minsen and Schillig
Schillig is a village in the Friesland district of Lower Saxony in Germany. It is situated on the west coast of Jade Bay and is north of the town of Wilhelmshaven.The approaches to the Bay and Willhelmshaven are known in English as the Schillig Roads....

. The island's landowner is the Wilhelmshaven Water and Shipping Authority (Wasser- und Schifffahrtsamt Wilhelmshaven or WSA).


The name of the isle comes from the village of Minsen which lies opposite it on the mainland. There is a legend that Minsen was originally established on the island of Minsener Oog. The fishermen of the village caught a mermaid
A mermaid is a mythological aquatic creature with a female human head, arms, and torso and the tail of a fish. A male version of a mermaid is known as a "merman" and in general both males and females are known as "merfolk"...

 with the lower body of a fish, which then had the village drowned by a flood in revenge. Although this tradition is historically extremely doubtful, there is in Minsen a bronze sculpture of the Minsen Seewiefken, which is also the emblem on the coat of arms for the parish of Wangerland
Wangerland is a municipality in the district of Friesland, Lower Saxony, Germany. It is situated on the North Sea coast, approximately 20 km northwest of Wilhelmshaven, and 10 km north of Jever. Its seat is in the village Hohenkirchen....



Minsener Oog was formed from the Minsener Oog sandbanks
Sandbanks is a small peninsula or spit crossing the mouth of Poole Harbour on the English Channel coast at Poole in Dorset, England. It is well-known for the highly regarded Sandbanks Beach and property value; Sandbanks has, by area, the fourth highest land value in the world...

 and the Olde Oog or Steen Plate sandbank, 200 to 300 metres to the south. In 1906 the Wilhelmshaven Marine Construction Authority erected groynes and embankments on the Olde Oog and dams to prevent the channel of the River Jade from silting up. This was intended to keep the channel to Wilhelmshaven
Wilhelmshaven is a coastal town in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is situated on the western side of the Jade Bight, a bay of the North Sea.-History:...

 clear of sand drifting from east to west, especially for the fleet of the German Imperial Navy. On the original 7 km² sand bank of Olde Oog there was a small area of dunes, as on Minsener Oog. By building long connecting groynes the sand was held back and formed a "fore-dune" which quickly established itself as a breeding ground for seabirds.

Originally it was planned to connect Wangerooge
Wangerooge is one of the 32 Frisian Islands in the North Sea located close to the coasts of the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark. It is also a municipality in the district of Friesland in Lower Saxony in Germany.Wangerooge is one of the East Frisian Islands...

 with Minsener Olde-Oog, to prevent the erosion of Wangerooge. In the 1930s, this project was temporarily reinstated, but the events of war prevented further work in this direction. After the Second World War, the British occupation forces tried to render Wilhelmshaven unusable as a naval base
Naval base
A naval base is a military base, where warships and naval ships are deployed when they have no mission at sea or want to restock. Usually ships may also perform some minor repairs. Some naval bases are temporary homes to aircraft that usually stay on the ships but are undergoing maintenance while...

 by letting the Jade estuary silt up completely. A major embankment on Minsener Oog was blown up, but no further action was taken.

Present state

To keep the Jade channel clear, a new large-scale dune island was formed in the 1970s. Between 1975 and 1978 about 10 million m³ of dredged material was dumped from the Jade channel thus increasingly enlarging the southern part of the island. This now has sand dunes up to 12 m high and is covers an area of about 370 hectares. Through the planting of beachgrass, erosion could be largely contained. The island is 4.5 km long from north-south, and up to 1.5 km wide.

After the Second World War, the Wilhelmshaven Water and Shipping Authority (WSA) was particularly active on the Minsener Oog. Two groyne wardens did shift work looking after the various maintenance tasks on the island. In addition to the radar tower built in 1976, a larger accommodation facility was erected in the form of pile dwellings for the WSA's staff.

At the end of the groyne A in the north there is still a small flak tower
Flak tower
Flak towers were 8 complexes of large, above-ground, anti-aircraft gun blockhouse towers constructed in the cities of Berlin , Hamburg , and Vienna from 1940 onwards....

 made of concrete, which was built during the Second World War and served as a lighthouse until 1998 . In 1998, the Wilhelmshaven Water and Shipping Authority gave up its permanent presence on the island for reasons of cost and only deploys staff as needed.

Since the automation of the beacon
A beacon is an intentionally conspicuous device designed to attract attention to a specific location.Beacons can also be combined with semaphoric or other indicators to provide important information, such as the status of an airport, by the colour and rotational pattern of its airport beacon, or of...

, however, only a bird warden from the Mellumrat resides on Minsener Oog during the summer (breeding season), who shares the living quarters of the water and shipping authority. The island is considered one of the most important research areas for the Institute of Avian Research (Institut für Vogelforschung).


Lighthouse keepers who used to live on the island introduced rabbits as living a food reserve. As a major breeding site for seabirds, the island was placed under protection in 1959.

Breeding birds in 2004 were the Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
The Lesser Black-backed Gull is a large gull that breeds on the Atlantic coasts of Europe. It is migratory, wintering from the British Isles south to West Africa...

, Common Gull
Common Gull
The Common Gull or Mew Gull Larus canus is a medium-sized gull which breeds in northern Asia, northern Europe and northwestern North America. It migrates further south in winter...

, Common Tern
Common Tern
The Common Tern is a seabird of the tern family Sternidae. This bird has a circumpolar distribution, breeding in temperate and sub-Arctic regions of Europe, Asia and east and central North America. It is strongly migratory, wintering in coastal tropical and subtropical regions. It is sometimes...

, Arctic tern
Arctic Tern
The Arctic Tern is a seabird of the tern family Sternidae. This bird has a circumpolar breeding distribution covering the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions of Europe, Asia, and North America...

, Sandwich Tern and Little Tern
Little Tern
The Little Tern, Sternula albifrons or Sterna albifrons, is a seabird of the tern family Sternidae. It was formerly placed into the genus Sterna, which now is restricted to the large white terns . The former North American and Red Sea S. a...

, as well as the Magpie
European Magpie
The European Magpie, Eurasian Magpie, or Common Magpie, , is a resident breeding bird throughout Europe, much of Asia and northwest Africa. It is one of several birds in the crow family named as magpies, and belongs to the Holarctic radiation of "monochrome" magpies...

, Carrion Crow
Carrion Crow
The Carrion Crow is a member of the passerine order of birds and the crow family which is native to western Europe and eastern Asia.-Taxonomy:...

 and Swallow
Barn Swallow
The Barn Swallow is the most widespread species of swallow in the world. It is a distinctive passerine bird with blue upperparts, a long, deeply forked tail and curved, pointed wings. It is found in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas...

. While the numbers of tern
Terns are seabirds in the family Sternidae, previously considered a subfamily of the gull family Laridae . They form a lineage with the gulls and skimmers which in turn is related to skuas and auks...

s amount to more than 2,000 pairs, only a few pairs of the Little Tern were noted. Shelduck
The shelducks, genus Tadorna, are a group of large birds in the Tadorninae subfamily of the Anatidae, the biological family that includes the ducks and most duck-like waterfowl such as the geese and swans....

 and Stock Dove have bred in the rabbit holes.


In the summer months mudflat hikes are conducted from Schillig on the mainland to the island. But, for conservation reasons, only a small part of the island may be entered The whole island is a nature reserve and belongs to the "quiet zone" of the Lower Saxon Wadden Sea National Park
Lower Saxon Wadden Sea National Park
The Lower Saxon Wadden Sea National Park was established in 1986 and embraces the East Frisian Islands, mudflats and salt marshes between the Bay of Dollart on the border with the Netherlands in the west and Cuxhaven as far as the Outer Elbe shipping channel in the east. The national park has an...



  • Coldewey, Tim (2004). Anthropogener Eingriff in die maritime Morphodynamik einer unbewohnten Nordseeinsel. Wilhelmshaven
  • Friedrich, Ernst Andreas (1982). Gestaltete Naturdenkmale Niedersachsens, Landbuch-Verlag, Hanover, ISBN 3-7842-0256-X

External links

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