HARLINGEN (THE NETHERLANDS)- Within a few years the starry smooth-hound (mustelas asterias) will be back in the Wadden Sea, the intertidal zone in the southeastern part of the North Sea off the coasts of The Netherlands, Germany and Denmark.

So predicts the Waddenvereniging, the Dutch association for protection of this remarkable natural habitat, famous for its seals.

Ever since the sixties, sharks have been a rarity in these cold shallow waters. Their habitats have disappeared, mainly by overfishing. The past years have seen more and more small sharks off the Dutch coast. This is probably due to climate change. The sharks reach here a size of about five feet. They are harmless to humans.

Last week the association went to the south of the country to join the Sharkatag, together with other organisations and politicians, where they tagged sharks in the Oosterschelde. According to the Waddenvereniging it became clear that the starry smooth-hound sharks were probably on their way to the Wadden Sea.

“Sharks are very cool animals. When they return, the Wadden Sea ecosystem will again be a bit more complete, “said Arjan Berkhuysen of the Waddenvereniging.