Black pearls in the Pomeranian Bay
It is not just in the collection of the German Oceanographic Museum that the Velvet and the Common scoter are linked as neighbours. A double exhibit shows a Velvet scoter drake alongside a Common scoter duck. In nature the two types of duck do not naturally belong together as a pair, but they can be seen by birdwatchers quite near to each other in the Pomeranian Bay. This happens because both types of ducks prefer the shallow waters in the southern Baltic Sea between Rügen and Poland for their winter quarters. And due to their great similarity, Velvet and Common scoters can only be distinguished by bird experts.
The differences in the plumage of the drakes are most visible. For the mostly velvety brown black males of the Velvet scoter, the red feet and a white spot in the eye area, as well as a white stripe on both wing tips, are distinctive. The different beak posture when swimming is only noticeable to experts. While for the Velvet scoter the head and beak posture angle points downwards, the Common scoter shows a rather horizontal profile.
The scientific consideration certainly doesn't bother the ducks, when they dive side by side for mussels and fish in the Pomeranian Bay during ice-free periods. With approximately 200,000 Velvet scoters and nearly 100,000 Common scoters in the winter months, the importance the coastal areas on the doorstep of the German Oceanographic Museum have for the protection of the birds is obvious. The Pomeranian Bay is one of the most important winter retreat areas for both of these types of ducks with a density of more than 100 individuals per square kilometre per type. Only towards the end of April do they fly back to their northern breeding areas between Scandinavia and northern Asia.