Paradise for birds and seals
Along with Beijershamn, Eckelsudde is a prime location along Öland’s west coast for resting and migrating birds, as well as being the home of a colony of 50-80 harbour seals. This equates to a quarter of the harbour seals in the waters of Kalmar Sound. The colony also includes grey seals.
Unique harbour seals
The seal population in the area was affected greatly by environmental toxins, hunting and diseases during the 1900s, but the situation is now a little better. The harbour seals in the Kalmar Sound differ genetically from all other seals in Europe. They are descendants of Baltic harbour seals, which colonised the region 8,000 years ago and remain in three small groups at Eckelsudde, Värnanäs and Abrahamsäng. The adult harbour seal’s source of food consists of a large number of fish species generally captured in shallow areas free of vegetation. A fully grown seal can eat up to 5 kg of fish per day.
Pups are born from late May to early July, peaking in mid-June. Unlike all other seal species, harbour seal pups do not have pup coat. This allows the pup to be able to swim and dive almost immediately after birth. The female suckles its young for 3-4 weeks and, because seal milk is very oily and nutritious, the pups increase from an average of just under 9 kg to over 25 kg during these weeks. Pups then leave their mothers and have to manage on their own.
Remember that seemingly abandoned seal pups are by no means abandoned. The mother is often somewhere close by.
Eckelsudde is one of the best bird locations along the west coast of Öland and many birds breed and rest here. The breeding species include gadwall, pintail, pied avocet, dunlin and snipe. When conditions are right, thousands of waders such as Eurasian oystercatchers, grey plovers and bar-tailed godwits rest here. Cattle grazing on the land keeps the grass and other vegetation well tended, which creates opportunities for many wading birds to find food and nesting sites.
Size: 468 ha, (1156 acres), wildlife reserve
Year of creation: 2005
Purpose: To protect one of the Baltic Sea’s harbour seal colonies and areas important for breeding and migrating birds. The area is part of Natura 2000, the EU’s ecological network of protected areas.
Drive past Kastlösa and Bjärby on route 136. Turn right on the road to Degerhamn. Drive past Övre Västerstad and Västerstads almlund (also know as Råkskogen). Parking and information is available at Nedre Västerstad.
GPS coordinates to the parking lot WGS 84 decimal (lat, long): 56.41493 , 16.40607
Map: Naturcentrum AB, Stenungsund.
Download: the County administrative boards brochure over (in Swedish only) (554 kB): Eckelsudde
Download: the entire brochure (in Swedish only) (19 MB): Utflyktsguide Öland
© Lantmäteriverket, Ur Geografiska Sverigedata, översiktskartan Dnr. 106-2004/188”
Source: County Administrative Board, Kalmar