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/ The Foundation / Responsibilities

The Stichting Strandexploitatie Noordkop (SSN) manages the beach and beach entrances on behalf of the municipality of Den Helder. Den Helder has a wide beach that stretches over 7 kilometers with 8 beach entrances.

Our Responsibilities

How clean is the beach, what is the quality of the swimming water, are there any dangers; informing our bathers is important. Our responsibilities include ensuring the safety of swimmers and beachgoers, enforcing beach rules, and providing assistance when needed. Our team of lifeguards is ready to ensure that everyone can have a carefree day at the beach. Learn more about our responsibilities:

Beach patrol for the beaches in Den Helder is under the responsibility of the Stichting Strandexploitatie Noordkop (SSN). During the high season, from late June to early September, the SSN employs lifeguards. During this time, the posts are open from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM or as necessary. Outside the high season, from early May to late September, monitoring is only done on Saturdays and Sundays from 12:00 PM to 5:00 PM.

What is beach patrol?
Beach patrol encompasses all measures that need to be taken to make and keep Den Helder’s beach safe for visitors, bathers, and swimmers. For this purpose, SSN has three beach posts, three 4WD vehicles, three GRX 420 surfboats, and digital communication equipment. Most importantly, there are 35 lifeguards who are hired annually after a selection day.

Is the beach clean and safe?
Think about glass, pollution, debris, etc. You can’t just leave that. Cleaning up, cordoning off the area, and cleaning up later is the motto.

Is the sea safe?
Consider high waves, (under)currents, rips, offshore winds, etc. “The sea is never safe.”

What do we do about it?

  • Inform through information boards, lifeguards, and flyers.
  • Supervise by lifeguards at the waterline and from the beach post.
  • Preventive actions by lifeguards, such as prohibiting floating devices in the sea, directing to safe swimming areas, etc.
  • Raise the yellow flag and/or restrict the swimming area indicated by the yellow-red beach flags.
  • Raise the red flag and strictly enforce the swimming ban.

Before the beach season starts, employees are already busy preparing the beach entrances and the beach itself. Bicycle racks are excavated or set up, more than 100 trash cans and drop pits are placed. SSN takes care of cleaning the beaches, entrances, and parking lots in Den Helder, and on weekends as well. For this, we use our regular staff, supplemented by seasonal workers and lifeguards. Early in the morning, two teams head out to clean up everything that has been left behind on the entrances and the beach. When necessary, we also use our tractor with a beach cleaner. After 10:00 AM, the entrances become crowded, and you can no longer work there with a car, shovel, or tractor. At the main beaches, lifeguards make a round in the guarded area. They set up beach flags at the edges and check for glass or other litter, cleaning it up. After all, the beach should not only be clean but also safe.

In the evening, around 7:00 PM, we start a cleaning round and empty all the trash cans on the beach and entrances. Often, we work on this until around 10:30 PM. This way, we can start the new day with almost empty bins. Usually, this is sufficient, but after a storm, a lot of debris often washes ashore. Unfortunately, the ebb and flow do not adhere to our working hours, and if debris washes ashore around noon, we cheerfully start cleaning it up for you. Seaweed, driftwood, and other natural materials that wash ashore can wait until the next morning or can be left in place. It’s also fun for children, and your dog will gladly chase after a piece of wood.

If a live seal or porpoise washes ashore, we help it on its way to Pieterburen or SOS Dolphin in Harderwijk with the help of the animal ambulance, but possibly this year on Texel at Ecomare. Dead seals or porpoises are removed as quickly as possible, sometimes for research at Imares but usually for disposal. For even larger marine mammals such as whales or humpback whales, a professional salvage company is called in by us as a beachcomber.

The beachcombing in Den Helder was in the hands of the Bontes family for decades. Since 2018, it has been carried out by the SSN, where employees are sworn in as assistant beachcombers on June 12th. The mayor is the beachcomber in name. This is regulated in the law on beachcombing.

Beach Finds
Almost daily, items wash ashore on the Den Helder beaches from the sea. Seaweed, plastic products, dead seabirds, porpoises, seals, and driftwood. Most of these are disposed of by the SSN as beach waste. Sometimes objects wash ashore that still have a certain value and have unintentionally ended up at sea. For example, after a shipwreck or overboard shipments from ocean ships. If such objects are found on the beach, the finder is not allowed to keep them. These items must be handed over to the municipal beachcomber.

A (assistant) beachcomber is a person appointed by the municipality who keeps stranded or fished goods until the rightful owner claims them. Often in exchange for payment of expenses for salvaging, storing, and paying a finder’s fee. If the owner disposes of his property, the beachcomber may sell the item to cover the incurred costs. According to the Beachcombing Act of 1931, in every coastal municipality, the mayor is automatically the beachcomber. He has one or more assistant beachcombers. For Den Helder, these are the beach manager Ruud Koelewijn and assistant Erik den Boer.

Where can I hand over a beach find in Den Helder and Julianadorp?
You can hand over your item(s) at one of the beach posts or to the SSN staff.

Beachcombing or pilfering
What is it actually: beachcombing or pilfering? According to the law, beachcombing is prohibited: everything found on the beach must be brought to the beachcomber or the police. The beachcombing monitors the beaches, and when goods wash ashore, they are secured by the beachcomber. Often, the items are sold through public auctions or returned to the rightful owner for a deposit fee. The finder is entitled to a finder’s fee. In reality, beachcombing, where the finder keeps or sells the items, is pilfering, but many coastal residents don’t see it that way.

Beachcombing is more seen as a game where the art is to outsmart the beachcombers. Nowadays, there is not much left to beachcomb. Ships have become more seaworthy, and the cargo is better packaged, so not much washes ashore anymore. That was different in the past decades. During heavy storms, several containers washed ashore filled with cigarettes, shoes, televisions, and loads of wood. The last major shipment was in January 2018 when beams and logs from a Russian ship washed ashore.

What can you find on the beach?
Although the beach may look quite peaceful and deserted, there are actually many animals to be found on the beach, in the water, and in the dunes. Consider, for example: Fish, crabs, lobsters, and shrimps, seashells, birds (seagulls, sandpipers, stonechats), land mammals (rabbits, foxes, etc.), but also seals, amphibians, and reptiles (toads, lizards), and of course, jellyfish. And those are just the main types! If you want a comprehensive overview, check out the website of Ecomare and Strandvondsten. But usually, it’s the small things you can find on the beach, like shells, starfish, crabs, squid shells, and seaweed. Sometimes, larger animals may suddenly appear in the sea or on the beach. These are usually animals that don’t normally belong there, like porpoises or whales.

Twice a day, the water rises and falls on the beach, we call it high tide and low tide. But how does that happen? Well, it’s because of the gravitational pull of the moon and the sun on the earth and therefore also on the water on earth.

Beach Games
You certainly won’t get bored on the beach. You can build sandcastles, dig holes, fly kites, or just play games together.

There is also a fun worksheet available for school on the website with many fun and educational videos. A special animal you can find on the coast is the “pipefish,” which is a relative of the seahorse.