By Maik Ulmschneider

If you want to learn more about the home port of SEEFALKE and starting point of our journey, please read this article about the beautiful Hanseatic City of Stralsund. Knowing that you love the sea and her wildlife as I do, I wish to draw your attention to what I think is the highlight in this historic town at the banks of the Baltic Sea: The Ozeaneum.

What is the Ozeaneum?

Wikipedia says it is a “public aquarium” which does not even begin to give it justice. Yes, it displays a great collection of aquaria. But to me, it is much more than that. It is the materialized declaration of love to the oceans of the world and their inhabitants.

Being a sailor for more than half of my life I have always thought I knew a lot about the oceans and the seas, but nowhere have I learned more about it than in Stralsund‘s Ozeaneum. It successfully turns facts and figures that may or may not be known to us into an unforgettable experience.

The Ozeaneum hosts five great exhibitions:

·       World Ocean

·       Baltic Sea

·       Exploration and Utilization of the Seas

·       Children‘s Sea

·       1:1 Giants of the Sea

These are accompanied by four aquaria, which let you literally dive into the sea:

·       Baltic Sea

·       North Sea

·       Open Atlantic

·       Penguins

The fascinating story begins at the world ocean, and immediately we will understand why the oceans are so important to us. We will learn about climate and tides, the mechanics of waves and the specifics of each ocean—and much more, always entertainingly illustrated by interactive information screens and illustrative models.

After getting acquainted with the world ocean we will enter the Baltic Sea, the unknown sea in Germany‘s backyard. We will learn the history of the Baltic Sea, a former glacier, and what makes her so special and sensitive to human influence. We will get to know her wildlife and see it in their (almost) natural habitat in the Baltic Sea aquarium.

Of course the oceans are a vast resource to us humans. They provide us with energy, food and natural resources as well as transport routes and recreation. Humans have utilized the oceans forever. In the exhibition Exploration and Utilization of the Seas we learn why the harmonization of utilization and regeneration is so important. I love that all this is not brought across with the wagging forefinger and we will leave this section not with a bad conscience, but rather with a good consciousness and perhaps remember it long enough until we order our next fish on the roll.

But let‘s move on to the North Sea, the other sea in Germany‘s backyard. Even though it is so close to the Baltic Sea it could not be more different. On the one side we have the semi-enclosed, tame Baltic with no tides and an extremely low salt content, on the other we have the much wilder North Sea, open to the Atlantic, eternally swinging with the rhythm of the tides. We learn how all this has formed the coasts and the wildlife over millions of years.

Whereas some of us may eagerly want to move on to the highlight of the Ozeaneum, some of us and especially our little ones, may need some rest and more relaxing activity. They will enjoy the great Children‘s Sea that is dedicated to kids in pre-school age, right next to the open air deck with the penguins and a stunning view over Stralsund.

And then there is my personal favorite—the 1:1 Giants of the Sea exhibition. Yes, we will learn more facts about the biggest creatures that inhabit the seas but the main thing is we will experience them. We will experience them in a way you have never experienced them before. I promise. You will feel like jumping over the waves with the playful Orca, joining the Sperm Whale‘s furious battle with the giant calmar or swimming along with the biggest creature that has ever lived on this planet: the Blue Whale.

The Ozeaneum is overall a great experience, and I cannot get enough of it. I think I have visited it more than 10 times, and I have always discovered something new. Among all the useful information and enjoyable impressions I always leave the Ozeaneum with the optimistic perception that the coexistence of wildlife and humans is possible.

For more information visit www.ozeaneum.de/en/ and maybe consider a donation to Greenpeace at the exit of the Ozeaneum.