Wydawnictwo Zielone Brygady - dobre z natury


The Hel Peninsula


The Hel Peninsula has been imaginatively nicknamed "The Scythe of Hel" and "The Republic's Tail." For the local people, Poland begins here; for the authorities, this is where the country ends. Either way, it is a unique fragment of our country's environment, which needs to be protected. But how? For most people, the problem boils down to protecting the land from the sea - which means, protecting nature from nature. You might compare it to opening your umbrella in order to protect flowers from the raindrops. And yet, in the very same spirit, steps are being taken to "save" the Hel Peninsula. The brave defenders of its shores storm the ivory towers of the decision makers, waving the banner of "pro-ecological development," borrowed from conservationists. Its green colour fades quickly, though. You can still hear the "eco-" sound in the battle cry, but "-logy" has given way to "-nomy." More and more often, the idea loses to business.

You would be hard pressed to show someone a stretch of natural shore along the Hel Peninsula. The numbers of concrete embankments and artificially silted up places is growing. Recently, I took one of my foreign visitors, an ecologist, for a walk on the beach. He was greatly surprised to discover on the seaward side of the peninsula, the shells of a certain type of mollusc that, in his country, is found only in fresh water. The abundance of the shells appeared to him quite inexplicable. The mystery was soon solved, when I explained to him that a project was currently under way to protect the bank using sand from the Bay of Puck, transported across the peninsula. In this simple way, species from the bay end up in an alien environment.

Looking Back

There were probably two stages in the geological history of the peninsula. Its present shape is a very recent development and still undergoes some (limited) changes. The tip of the peninsula, between Jastarnia and Hel, is its oldest part. The section between Jastarnia and Władysławowo was probably twice submerged in water, between 16,000 and 7,000 years ago. When it finally reappeared towards the end of that period, it provided the base for accumulation of the sand transported by the sea in the parallel or perpendicular direction (authorities differ on that point).

In the 20th century, the Hel Peninsula was "reinforced" in a special way, when the railway and dirt road joining Władysławowo with Hel were constructed.

Krzysztof Skóra