Aerial photograph of Scharhörn
|Location||North Sea, Wadden Sea, Elbe mouth|
|Area||20 ha (49 acres)|
|Density||0 /km2 (0 /sq mi)|
Scharhörn lies by the mouth of the Elbe, approximately 15 km northwest from Cuxhaven and 6 km northwest from the nearby island of Neuwerk. It is a part of Zone 1 of the Hamburg Wadden Sea National Park. Aside from a bird warden, the island has no permanent residents.
Together with the artificial island of Nigehörn the island lies on a large sandbank. Historically the whole area including the reef was called Scharhörn and the sandbank Scharhörnplate. After the human supported formation of the island in the 1920s and finally with the creation of Nigehörn on the same sandbank, the name Scharhörn was only used for the island. Though Scharhörn is generally flood-safe, the 6 m high banks of the island are not protected, so the island faces permanent loss of land on the western side as storm floods gradually shift the sandbank eastward.
The sandbank on which Scharhörn and Nigehörn lie is a European Union Natura 2000-designated bird sanctuary, tended to by the environmental group Verein Jordsand. The area, known as Scharhörnplate, is around 2.75 km long and 1.5 km wide with an area of approximately 500 ha. Public access to the island is forbidden, except on official tours or by prior arrangement with the warden.
In 1937, the island became part of the Prussian Province of Hanover as a result of the Greater Hamburg Act. The island changed hands again in 1947, when it became part of the newly-drawn state of Lower Saxony, and again in 1969, when it was returned under a treaty to the control of Hamburg for the purpose of constructing a proposed deepwater port on Scharhörn and nearby Neuwerk. The plans foresaw the construction of a 6000 ha mound of land built from dredged sand, which was to be safe from the storm floods of the North Sea and connected to the mainland via a causeway from Scharhörn to Neuwerk to Cuxhaven. The plan was never realised, plagued by protests, high costs, and low levels of public support, but nevertheless remains included in the land use plan of Hamburg.