Seal safari, Haparanda archipelago
There they are! Large dark eyes pop up out of the water and seals and humans examine one another curiously. The environment is magical – a unique national park and archipelago in the northernmost part of the Gulf of Bothnia.
The skipper on board the SS Bosmina is waiting for you on the quay in Haparanda harbour with piping hot coffee and a tasty sandwich.
You study the nautical chart before setting off in order to get some idea of how the archipelago was born and to understand why the islands consist of rugged boulders in the south, but of sandy beaches in the north. There is plenty to look at on the way out to the shallow waters of the seals. Nowhere else in the world can you see so clearly how islands are formed. The land elevation increases by one centimetre per year.
Black stones, scarcely visible at the water’s edge, small rocky islets with scant vegetation of herbs and plants and an island with hundreds of birches (whose Finnish name means “one-birch island”!) are all evidence of this.
Everyone scrutinizes the horizon eagerly through binoculars and suddenly there they are – seals resting on rocks at the edge of the water. A seal in profile looks like a banana on its back. Most people are fascinated by the seal’s chubby shape and large dark eyes; only the salmon fisherman shudders to think of the damage a seal can do to his gear. The boat approaches the shallow waters, slowly and warily. A number of seals might approach the boat out of curiosity, but the question is: who is the most curious, the seals or the humans ? When the seals have observed the people on the boat for a while they seem to be thinking: “Oh, it’s only the Bosmina again ” and then they disperse. After a while they usually crawl out again to bask on the rocks.
After the safari, the boat bears towards the northern head of Sandskär. When you reach a good spot for a barbecue, everyone helps to get a delicious evening meal ready – salmon smoked on a bed of juniper twigs and alder, potatoes, vegetables, beer or soft drinks and coffee. All you need to do is enjoy the peace of the summer evening – Sandskär at its best.