Thursday, December 27, 2007

Humpback Whale Rescued in Bay of Fundy

Although entanglements in fishing gear are still one of the most frequent causes of whale injury and death, there was a bit of good news this week in the Bay of Fundy. A humpback whale is swimming free after it was disentangled from fishing gear in a daring high-seas rescue.

A rescue mission was launched after a fisherman called in to report a humpback trapped in lobster-fishing gear off Grand Manan Island. Fears that the whale may have drowned (since the gear in which it was wrapped was anchored to the bottom) were unfounded once the team of fisheries officers and whale experts arrived on the scene.

Fortunately, there was enough slack in the ropes to allow the whale to breathe at the surface.
Rescuers worked on the docile whale for about an hour, cutting the ropes and completely freeing it from the fishing gear. happy ending to an often tragic tale!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Bay of Fundy U.F.O.?

Well, this has to be a first...the first time I've ever heard of a U.F.O. over the Bay of Fundy! Bay-side residents of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Maine reported seeing 'strange lights in the sky' last week. At first there was concern that a plane had crashed in the bay, but a quick search by the U.S. Coastguard revealed that was not the case. Ten minutes after a rocket was launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida an expendable fuel tank separated and dropped into the Bay. Although about 100 miles off the coast, this seemed a bit too close in my estimation...we've got lobster boats and other vessels in the Bay of Fundy at this time of year! Luckily nothing but the water was hit.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Humpback Whale & Calf film on Animal Planet

Not owning a TV can sometimes make it tricky for me to catch the odd film of interest. Here's one that's definitely worth a trip to the neighbor's: Animal Planet's 70 minute Humpback Whale documentary chronicling the migration of a Humpback Whale and her calf.

The film, Ocean Voyagers, follows their epic journey from the waters off Polynesia where the calf is born to Antarctica. Additional footage was shot in the Bay of Fundy, Gulf of Maine, Hawaii, Newfoundland, and Alaska. Humpbacks, thought to have cruised the earth's oceans for millions of years, tend to follow a regular migration route which takes them from a summer in temperate (Bay of Fundy) and polar waters to winters in tropical waters for mating and calving. There's lots of 'never seen before' footage in this new film, airing on Animal Planet on Dec. 16.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Bay of Fundy Blue Lobster Caught

It's lobster season again around most of the Bay of Fundy. This week a Bay of Fundy fisherman was in for a surprise when he pulled his lobster traps: one of the occupants was blue! True, lobstermen everywhere occasionally catch blue, speckled or even white lobsters. What makes this fella special is that he's unusually big for a blue lobster - about 4 lbs.

Interestingly, blue lobsters still turn bright red when you cook them and they taste the same as other lobster. No one will be eating this one for Christmas dinner; the workers at the fish plant aren't going to sell him. He'll hang around in the fish tank for everyone's amusement instead.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Another Bay of Fundy book

Well, OK, this book, Ebb & Flow, isn't precisely about the Bay of Fundy but it is about tides and it's written by a Canadian: Tom Koppel! I'd heard about this book but had a bit of trouble tracking it down (turns out it was for sale on Chapters after all...I had searched the title incorrectly). Oops

I did track down Tom on the West Coast of Canada though. Here's part of Tom's note back to me:

Hi Terri, Thanks for getting in touch...There is really a lot in the book about the Fundy tides, shorelines, biology, history and science, as you will see when you get it. You probably do not know this, but after my wife and I visited Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to research the Fundy tides, I also wrote several travel feature articles about the Bay that appeared in 2006 in Australia's top daily paper, as well as the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch, and in the Boston Herald.

Tom's book, Ebb & Flow: Tides and Life on Our Once and Future Planet, weaves together three grand narratives, exploring how tides impact coasts and marine life, how they have altered human history and development, and how science has striven to understand the surprisingly complex way in which tides actually work.

Check it out on
Looks like I'm going to have a lot of reading to do over the holidays!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Bay of Fundy Xmas Book

I've previously profiled other Bay of Fundy publications on my blog already (see Fundy book tab on the sidebar) but I just came across a new one about the tides and how they work.... Beyond the Moon: A Conversational, Common Sense Guide to Understanding the Tides.

It retails for about $74, not sure why so expensive - it must be really good!

I hope to find out! I've put it on my Christmas list so when I get it, I'll read it and post a 'review' here on my blog. I have an ocean's depth of interest in learning more about the tides!

Take a look at this book on

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Bay of Fundy quilted lighthouse

As I've mentioned in previous posts, the Bay of Fundy continues to inspire all kinds of creativity among its artsier residents and visitors. The ocean floor endlessly fascinates photographers, our sea creatures inspire potters, wind and waves inspire authors, and cliffscapes inspire painters.

I just came across a quilter whose recent visit to our region resulted in this fabulous quilted lighthouse "post card". Featured here is West Quoddy Lighthouse, located on the easternmost point of the USA, near Lubec, Maine....technically at the very opening of the Bay of Fundy. Here's a note from the artist:

I absolutely fell in love with Maine when I made a trip up there in October. I am determined to go again. 10 days just wasn't enough but it was a great overview. I cried all the way from Lubec to Bangor- no kidding. I hated to leave. It's a powerful place.

So... about the postcards. They are what they say they are. postcards. They measure
4"x6" and you can pop them in the mail and send them on their merry way with a first class stamp. No kidding. They are made entirely of fiber(fabric) and are considered "fiber art." Thanks for your interest! ~ Nines

Nines is located in Indiana, USA...visit her Praire Quilts blog.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Glacial delta exposed!

Now that the pretty leaves have dropped and the blueberry fields have turned from crimson to brown it's the perfect time to look more closely at subtleties of the Bay of Fundy world around us. My home community of Parrsboro, for example, is located on a huge glacial outwash delta that has been carved into four distinct terrace levels. Here's a photo borrowed from the Nova Scotia Dept of Natural Resources. Can you see one of the terraced ridges snaking down the middle? (I've helped you out with the white line on the 2nd pic) Fortunately for us, and the many other post-glacier areas of the Bay of Fundy, these seemingly barren fields turn out to be perfect terrain for wild blueberries. Who knew?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Bald eagle sighting

I suspect you've noticed by now that I'm not much of a birder (yet!) but occasionally something catches my eye, such as these two Bald Eagles. A telephoto lens came in handy for capturing the pair who appeared to be enjoying their panoramic view of the tidal harbour. Did you know that Bald Eagles mate for life and live up to 25 years? If you're interested in taking a look at the rest of Bay of Fundy birding list, try the Grand Manan Whale Research Centre website.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

You'd be happy too...

People sometimes ask me why I'd want to live 'way out here' on the Bay of Fundy. It's mornings like this, just on my regular dog walk, with views like this that form my answer. Sure it's just another tidal harbour with the first inklings of ice floating in gently on the incoming tide but wouldn't you be happy too if you saw this view...?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

How tiny mud shrimp save Bay of Fundy mud flats

With the amount of water moving in and out of the Bay of Fundy with our tides several times a day, you may well wonder why mud doesn't get constantly sucked out the of Bay. Our small mud shrimp, Corophium voluntator, plays a role here too. I'm certainly no mud scientist but let me try to explain:

-their burrows compact mud flat sediment and actually cement together the particles lining the walls. This has the effect of creating a forest of erosion-resistant chimneys in the mud (see image).
- slightly more indirectly...shorebirds eat copious amounts of shrimp who feed on microscopic diatoms. Diatoms secrete a glue-like substance that makes sediment particles stick together and reduces their likelihood of being swept away by moving water. So by being 'food' for shorebirds, mud shrimp numbers are periodically reduced enabling the diatoms to flourish and strengthen the mud.
- mud shrimp also defend their mudflat habitat from invasion by salt marshes. By eating diatoms they keep the mud surface too unstable for colonizing plants to establish themselves. Constant burrowing and feeding by mud shrimp also buries the seeds of the invaders preventing them from germinating, or uprooting any that do.
Who knew?!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Meet...Corophium volutator

Here's a little friend to the Bay of Fundy who hardly ever gets any mention on Bay of Fundy websites or blogs: corophium volutator.

Corophium volutator (known locally as mud shrimp) are actually not shrimp but a member of a suborder of crustaceans known as amphipods. These fine fellows inhabit the upper layers of mud in the Bay of Fundy and play a vital role in this complex ecosystem.

Corophium keeps a very low profile: so low in fact that until a couple of decades ago Fundy 's mudflats (fully exposed at low tide) were considered lifeless wastelands of little ecological interest. But, as sandpipers have known for ages and scientists have recently learned, if you probe beneath the surface, the mud is home to unbelievably large numbers of these tiny amphipods.

They can occur in huge quantities: up to 40,000 per square metre have been observed. In the Bay of Fundy they are a critically important part of the food chain for migratory birds...more on that in subsequent posts.

For the etymologists in the familly: volutator comes from the Latin volutare, meaning "to wallow". Seems apt for these mud loving creatures!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Fundy Biosphere Reserve news

Now that the Upper Bay of Fundy is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, plans are moving ahead for scientific and educational program development. New Brunswick's Environmental Trust Fund (ETF) is providing $30,000 to get these programs going. This is a great use of our bottle deposit! (Revenue for the ETF comes from about half of the environmental fee that is paid when people buy redeemable beverage containers in New Brunswick.)

I think we are no where near having as much public programming about the Bay of Fundy we should have. The Bay is an amazing place but, due to its diversity, sometimes a bit challenging for both residents and visitors to fully appreciate. Biosphere reserves are often defined as 'living laboratories' where research, monitoring, public education, capacity building and local community involvement contribute to promote sustainable development. This can only improve the Bay experience!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Bay of Fundy dulse soup

I seem to have picked up the first cold of the season this week so dug out my vegetarian version of chicken noodle soup....Dulse Soup. I'm not sure from where this recipe originates - I might have said Scotland or Ireland (where irish moss and other dulse type seaweed is use for cooking as are oats) but the soy sauce negates that theory. Maybe it a Scot's version of miso?


1 ounce dry dulse
5 cups water
1 tsp veg oil
1 med. onion, sliced thinly
1/2 rolled oats
2 Tbsp soy sauce

Rinse dulse briefly under cold water then immerse in fully in bowl of water. Place soup pot on med heat, add oil to heat, add onions. Cook a few minutes until strong onion smell fades. Add oats and stir a minute or so. Add dulse and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer with lid half off for 35 minutes. Remove from heat. Add soy sauce. Makes enough for 4 servings.

It really is good .... honest! For other posts about dulse, visit Drying Dulse on the Beach, Many Forms of Dulse, Got Dulse?, Do We Really Eat Seaweed?

Monday, November 05, 2007

After the storm

Post-tropical storm Noel rolled up the Bay of Fundy overnight on Saturday and, yes, did knock out power for several hours. Luckily the tide was low through the night so no serious flooding occurred. On Sunday morning I couldn't resist going down to the beach to see the heavy tides. Here's a video of the heavy surf at East Bay. A couple family members (including my 75 year old father!) offered to lean into the wind to 'demonstrate' how strongly the wind still blew. Don't worry they weren't as close to the waves as they look - no Bay of Fundyites were harmed during the making of this video!~

P.S. To see this same beach at low calm tide this summer, visit my previous fish weir blog post.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Calm before the storm

Thought I'd better get a blog post in today - the tail end of a hurricane is on its way up the Atlantic coast heading straight for the Bay of Fundy. Aye, 'twil be a fine nor'easter but hopefully nothing like the Saxby Gale!

We don't get nearly as many hurricanes on the east coast of Canada as they do in the southern USA but we can usually count on a couple of autumn gales as well a a few really good winter snow storms. I went down to the Bay this morning at high tide and the seas were already starting to get heavy.

This time it sounds like we'll be spared significant coastal flooding from Hurricane Noel because the tide will be out (low tide is at 2:30 am) when worst of the storm passes through late tonight. Remember: at low tide the water is over 1 km off the coast in the upper part of the Bay so this makes a big difference during a nasty storm!! Here's a link to the Atlantic Hurricane office (Environment Canada) website if you'd like to see the forecast! I'll blog the news after the power comes back on....

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Coastal puzzle piece

I learned many years ago never to venture out around the Bay without my camera. I never know when I'm going to encounter an interesting sight such as this puzzle piece shaped sandbar in the village of Black Rock, south west of Parrsboro, Nova Scotia. Enough maple leaves had fallen off the cliffside trees along the main road high above this bar that I was able to snap this rare 'aerial' shot.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A visit to the pumpkin patch!

I ventured out to the country this afternoon to grab a few Halloween pumpkins from one of our pumpkin U-picks.. Belle, my yellow lab, had a good run in the field amongst the big orange balls!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Bay of Fundy tidal power developments

Longtime readers of my blog will know that I've been following possible development of Bay of Fundy tidal power for awhile now. Since I was a kid here on the Bay there has been a drastic move away from attempting to barricade tides and instead, as technology has advanced, much less invasive wave and in-stream tidal power concepts have now been developed and tested elsewhere in the world.

I was pleased to see that Maritime Tidal Energy, one of the companies investigating in-stream tidal power for the Bay of Fundy, just announced a partnership with the U.K.'s leader in tidal power development, Marine Current Turbines.

Marine Current Turbines have been great innovators in environmentally friendly in-stream tidal power projects such as for the Bristol Channel and, recently, for Northern Ireland. Tidal power is still a long way off for the Bay of Fundy (proposals are now requested for the first test turbines) but it appears that a such alliance could help move the concept in the right direction a bit sooner. I'm expecting to go over to the U.K. for a tourism exchange in '08, I wonder how easy it would be to take a peek at tidal power too!

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Reds Are Fabulous This Year!

Although it may be true that this fall's fabulous weather made for excellent Bay of Fundy region red wines, I actually meant the red trees. A couple of early frosts in late September gave way to the perfect combination of warm days (15 to mid-20s C) and cool nights thoughout October. This ensured a spectacular scope of autumn leaf colours around the Bay. For instance, here's a fluorescently red maple that I see every morning on my dog walk. Real...pure...colour...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Giant Pumpkin Regatta

Here's a fun event to take in if you ever find yourself in the Windsor, Nova Scotia, area of the Bay of Fundy region in October: their annual giant pumpkin regatta. Now in its 23rd year, the Pumpkin Regatta involves sitting inside a gigantic hollowed out pumpkin and paddling it across a downtown lake. These pumpkins average around 800 pounds so can technically hold an adult. They are reasonably buoyant but, as you might expect, quite tippy. It's fun to watch to see who will be the first to get their PVC (personal vegetable craft) across Lake Pesaquid. For more info visit the Windsor-West Hants Pumpkin Festival website - yah, we like our veggies big here around the Bay!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Historic covered bridges

Historic covered bridges still exist here and there around the Bay of Fundy. Originally constructed with covered sides and tops to protect travelers from the weather, most of these bridges have been replaced by modern structures and are now preserved as snapshots of bygone days. The little gem I photographed here is easily accessible from Route 114 by Hopewell Rocks in New Brunswick.

You'll sometimes hear these bridge referred to as "kissing bridges"... a bit of folklore from the days when they were used by horse & buggies. The prospect of enclosing bridges met with great consternation in the early days. Sermons were preached about how covered bridges would contribute to the general moral decay of our young citizens. It's said that young men did, in fact, train their horses to stop about half way across these bridges so a few kisses could be shared with their female companions before continuing along!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Great blue heron project for Bay of Fundy

Still on the conservation theme....Volunteers are hoping to beef up the number of great blue herons nesting on Manawagonish Island, in the Bay of Fundy, by building nesting platforms to entice herons to come and lay their eggs.

About a dozen people made the boat trip this past Monday to the island in the Bay of Fundy, about 1.5 kilometres off the coast from Saint John.

Manawagonish Island used to be home to 44 pairs of nesting great blue herons, but their numbers were dramatically reduced after a number of trees died. Volunteers from the New Brunswick Nature Trust made a boat trip to the island earlier this week. The idea is to create some artificial habitat for these birds.

The artificial habitat will consist of five seven-metre high utility poles, each containing four nesting platforms. Helicopters were used Monday afternoon to transport the poles to the island. While this is a unique project for the Bay of Fundy, it has apparently been carried out successfully elsewhere in North America.

There are still a few pairs of great blue herons breeding on the island, Minich said, and the hope is that that their offspring will return to breed and use the nesting platforms. The group is also planting white spruce trees on the island to replace the trees killed by the thousands of birds that have bred there over the years.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Beaches World Conference being held this week in Canada!

Experts from more than 35 countries are gathering in Toronto this week to showcase new research and innovative solutions to key problems facing coastal areas and beach ecosystems: climate change, health and water quality, and sustainable tourism. Hosted by Environmental Defence and the Foundation for Environmental Education (a European-based organization), the Beaches World Tour 2007 conference brought together scientists, researchers, government officials, grassroots groups and activists who are working to protect shorelines.

Beaches World Tour 2007 marks the 20th Anniversary of the Blue Flag program, an international award for beaches and marinas that meet 27 strict criteria. Blue Flag, run by the Foundation for Environmental Education internationally and by Environmental Defence in Canada, certified more than 2,600 beaches around the world in 2007. In Canada, nine beaches were awarded the Blue Flag: six on Lake Ontario in Toronto; Sauble Beach and Station Beach on Lake Huron; and, Wasaga Beach on Georgian Bay.

Beaches and coastal areas are often the first to feel the effects of environmental problems, like climate change. There's a lot we can learn from other countries who are tackling difficult environmental issues and coming up with new ways to protect their coastlines. Even though we are in a less populated area than many other coastal environments, the Bay of Fundy should look into this!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Blog Action Day - protecting Bay of Fundy Right whales!

Here's a photo of Dr. Moira Brown, of the Canadian Whale Institute, during a very important announcement late last week: large ships will now avoid traveling in an area of the Atlantic coast where endangered North Atlantic Right whales gather seasonally to socialize.

The initiative, just announced by the Federal government, is an effort to save the Right whales from extinction by mapping out an area of Roseway Basin (20 nautical miles south of Cape Sable Island), to be avoided by ships of 300 gross tonnage and upwards.

"In order to reduce collisions between the right whale and large vessels ... the best thing to do is to not have ships and whales in the same location at the same time," Dr. Brown told environmentalists and reporters after the announcement.

From 1970 through January 2007, 75 right-whale deaths were documented along the eastern seaboard of Canada and the United States. (28 from ship strikes, 8 from entanglements in fishing gear).

Roseway Basin, the lower Bay of Fundy and three habitat areas in the United States are the only areas in the western North Atlantic where the right whales are known to gather on a seasonal basis for several months at a time between June and December. Mariners will avoid the area at this time.

In 2002, the International Maritime Organization made changes to ship traffic lanes in the Bay of Fundy, reducing the relative probability of a ship strike in this area by about 80 per cent.

Although the announcement is a recommendation to mariners, there has been positive feedback from the industry, saying they plan to comply. This is great news for Right whales and a wonderful tale to tell on this year's Blog Action Day for the Environment!

Photo from The Daily News, Halifax, Nova Scotia, October 11.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Blog Action Day tomorrow

There is an interesting phenomenon about to occur in the blogsphere....did you ever wonder what would happen if every blog published posts on the same topic, on the same day? One issue. One day. Thousands of voices.

We'll find out tomorrow: Blog Action Day. On October 15 over 14,000 blogs with about 12 million readers will participate. Organizers have selected the environment as the 2007 theme both for the clarity of its importance and the undeniable urgency that issues like global warming and pollution have.

Blog Action Day is not about donations or anything - it exists solely to facilitate bloggers getting together to create a better world. I'll be joining in with environmental news from the Bay of Fundy!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

What is Hot-Smoked Salmon?

Hot-smoking salmon produces a thoroughly-cooked fish, by smoking it from 6 to 12 hours at temperatures ranging from 120° to 180°F. The result is firm, rich, and flakier than cold-smoked salmon. It is eaten just like cooked salmon, but can be used in most of the same preparations as cold-smoked. To the untrained eye, some hot-smoked preparations can look the same in the package. In our Bay of Fundy grocery stores, we see hot-smoked salmon sold packaged and in loose (in the fish dept) in strips, sometimes flavoured with maple, peppercorns or Cajun spices. Yum!

Monday, October 08, 2007

What is Cold-Smoked Salmon?

I thought it might be helpful to give you the scoop on the difference between hot and cold smoked salmon: two totally different processes resulting in different salmon experiences.

Cold-smoked salmon emanates from the Scottish tradition of dry salting salmon fillets and then cold smoking over a slow fire. The cold smoke never cooks the fish. It just touches each fillet gently and slowly, melding the flavors and creating that sensual buttery texture found only in the best cold smoked salmon.

How is salmon cold-smoked?
First the fish are filleted and the sides are covered in a layer of salt for up to six hours to cure. The salt draws out moisture, prevents the growth of bacteria, kills microbes and flavors the fish (btw ham and bacon are also salt-cured). The fish can then be dried for several hours before cold smoking, a slow process at a low temperature: 70° to 90°F for 1 day to 3 weeks; the food is not held over the fire as in hot-smoking; but rather, smoke is passed by food which is held in a separate area from the fire. Since the fish is not cooked, the interior texture of the food generally isn’t affected: The fish remains smooth.

How to know if you are buying cold-smoked salmon?
One sure identifier when buying cold-smoked salmon is that is it usually vacuum-packed in see-through packaging and must be refrigerated. It can be purchased fresh or frozen. When served (see photo borrowed from Wolfhead Salmon Smokers) it appears shiny and slightly raw in appearance. This is also the type of smoked salmon commonly served in this part of the country when you order a bagel with smoked salmon & cream cheese.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Bay of Fundy today in history

It's an anniversary of sorts today around the Bay of Fundy. A tropical storm, known as the Saxby Gale, struck our region 138 years ago today. Now I know you may be thinking 'big deal' but the Saxby Gale tale is still very much alive in local folklore. Fundy folk are known to comment (such as when we had our big Fall equinox tide last week): "yes, well, that was a really big tide but nothing compared to the Saxby Gale!"

From October 4 to 5, 1869, a Category 2 hurricane with winds 105 mph coincided with an unusually high tide to create the perfect storm. The hurricane and an additional 6.5 foot surge of tidal waters caused extensive destruction to port facilities and communities along the Bay of Fundy coast.

The hurricane also produced waves which, combined with the storm surge, breached dykes protecting low-lying farmland in the Minas Basin and the Tantramar Marshes, sending ocean waters surging far inland to inundate farms and communities. Sailing ships in various harbors were tossed about and/or broken up against wharves and breakwaters which were also destroyed. And over 100 people lost their lives. Fortunately such a storm has never again occured on the Bay of Fundy...

Thursday, October 04, 2007

I brake for Smoked Salmon!

Luckily for all of us, Bay of Fundy smoked salmon is available at many grocery stores and specialty food shops in the region. However, my trip to St Andrews, New Brunswick, last week landed me in the neighbourhood of the two best salmon smokers: Wolfhead Smokers and Ovenhead Smokers.

I picked up some freshly smoked salmon to bring home then snapped this quick photo before eating it. I'm a huge fan of both cold and hot smoked salmon - bon appetit!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Have Chicken; Will Travel!

We welcome lots of interesting visitors... and their traveling companions... to the Bay of Fundy every year. This summer was no exception but this summer there was a first: an Ontario couple traveling with their chicken!

I suppose it's no secret that people are traveling more with their pets. In fact, the Travel Industry Association says 29.1 million Americans travel with their pets. Hotels are targeting pet owners as a niche market and indulgent pet hotels and spas cater to the dearly beloved of the animal world. In February, Continental Airlines even announced the first ever pet-friendly airport lounge opening in Houston, Texas.

In Buk-Buk the Chicken's case, it presented some interesting questions ... Most attractions require pets to be on a leash. How do you put a chicken on a leash? Aggressive pets must wear a muzzle. Is a chicken aggressive? How would you know? How would you muzzle a beak? What about stoop and scoop? Would that apply to a chicken?

As long as she was carried in her owner’s arms, Buk-Buk was permitted to visit but could not enter interior spaces at attractions. That seems fair... though I wish I'd chanced to meet our feathered guest on her trip around the Bay!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

A Classic Bay of Fundy Resort

Work travels this week took me to one of my favourite towns on the Bay of Fundy: St Andrews. When in St Andrews I usually stay at the Fairmont Algonquin. I love the ambiance and history of these classic resorts. Built in the 1880s, The Algonquin originally offered 80 guest rooms, with fireplaces in all the larger rooms. First guests paid $3 to $5 per night for a room complete with water closet!

One of The Fairmont Algonquin's most sought-after features in the early days was the 'cure all' saltwater baths. Saltwater was drawn from Passamaquoddy Bay and held in water tanks in the hotel attic. Guests would immerse themselves in the therapeutic solution in bathtubs designed with four taps - two for fresh water and two for saltwater.

I find it amusing that early advertising proclaimed 'No hay fever here!' and 'A general air of restfulness,' drawing many wealthy tourists with the promise of good health in elegant surroundings - a haven for rejuvenation. In some ways, not much has changed and that's the beauty of it; the hotel is still enchanting and delightful, with lots of great amenities - including spa, of course!

I snapped these two photos: one from my hotel room and one looking toward the main entrance. See previous post on another Fundy classic hotel: The Digby Pines.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Bay of Fundy Cruise News

I just heard that Saint John is getting a new waterfront facility for hosting cruise passengers. The city's cruise scene has grown from 1 ship, 550 passengers in 1989 to 54 vessels, 138,450 passengers in 2007. In fact, all the world's major cruise lines now visit Saint John making it the 2nd busiest cruise port in Atlantic Canada. I was in Saint John this week and, judging by the three ships I photographed here on the waterfront, I think the new cruise visitor centre will very welcome!

Although Saint John is closer to the mouth of Bay of Fundy, one of the cool things is the myriad of Fundy-themed day trips up into the other tidal regions. This is a great way to offer cruise passengers an intro to the phenomenal Bay of Fundy. Take a look at Cruise Saint John for more info.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Bay of Fundy whale video

Tom at Ocean Exploration Zodiac whale cruises in Tiverton, Nova Scotia, just sent me this 4 minutes video footage he taped a few days ago on the bay...these are Humpback whales flipper and tail slapping! proof that there are still lots of whales to see in the Bay of Fundy.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Blueberry Grunt

A Bay of Fundy recipe collection would be incomplete without a recipe for Blueberry Grunt. Grunt (not to be confused with other blueberry desserts such as Crumble, Crisp or Buckle) is best characterized by floating dumplings. I've always been a fan of Blueberry Grunt but my admiration took a leap when I tried this particular recipe about eight years ago from The Joy of Ginger cookbook.

Blueberry Grunt
4 c wild blueberries
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c water
1 tsp ground ginger or more
2 c all purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 t salt
2 Tbsp cold butter
3 Tbsp candied or preserved ginger, chopped
3/4 c milk

- Boil blueberries, sugar, water and ground ginger in a large saucepan until juice is rendered, about 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.
- Cut in cold butter using a pastry cutter or knife. Stir in finely chopped ginger. Add enough milk to make a soft, sticky biscuit dough.
- Drop dough by tablespoon in the hot berry mixture. Cover tightly & cook 12 to 15 minutes. Serve with French vanilla fresh or frozen yogurt.

(Candied ginger is available in bulk at most health food stores or, if you are really keen you can make it yourself!)

Friday, September 21, 2007

"new" Bay of Fundy Biosphere Reserve

Exciting news from the Bay of Fundy today! The upper Bay of Fundy has just been designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The full region in New Brunswick stretches from the Tantramar marshes by the Nova Scotia border along through Fundy National Park and over to the Fundy Trail & St Martins.

Biosphere Reserves are areas of land and marine environments, which are internationally recognized by the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation) Man and the Biosphere Program.

Biosphere Reserves promote and demonstrate a balance between people and nature. While Biosphere Reserves are not parks and don't have jurisdiction over land-management issues, they do serve to combine the four functions of conservation, sustainable economic development, community health, and support for research, education, and training.

It takes many years and tonnes of work to apply for such designation. Congrats to all who worked on the project (including my boss, Tom Young!)

Click here for the UNESCO site if you’d like to read more.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Of course we've got whales!

Visitors to the Bay of Fundy rightly assume they can go whale watching in the summer but are often unsure about the 'whale situation' in the Fall. Not to worry: there are plenty of whales here now! Here 's the scoop from a few of our whale watch businesses...

Yes, the whale watching season is still going on! We'll be operating until October 10 and depending on demand and whale sightings we may stay on a little longer. We have been sighting finback and minke whales inshore and offshore, and humpbacks offshore. We have a special departure for a Right Whale cruise on September 30 - our blog is updated daily pretty much with information and lots of pictures ~ Lisa at Quoddy Link Marine, St Andrews, New Brunswick

We'll be operating until the 15th of October (weather permitting). There are still plenty of whales around and they tend to remain until mid November. Still a lot of great sightings to come....I'm sure! ~ Barb at Mariner Cruises, Brier Island, Nova Scotia

Still lots of great whale watching to come in the Bay of Fundy. We'll be open until Oct 15th. We saw Humpbacks, Finbacks and Minke whales today. ~ David at Fundy Tide Runners, St Andrews, New Brunswick.

I'm usually the last operation in the region to close ..... end of October! Last year we saw 8-15 whales each of our last trips end of October (better than the summer!) Humpbacks and fin whales, but Right whales were also around through into November (last year) .... just further away (closer to Grand Manan). Tom at Ocean Explorations, Tiverton, Nova Scotia.

Photo credits: Red hood & whale tail - Becky Cook, Mariner Cruises
Whale tail - Quoddy Link Marine

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Bay of Fundy Island Aerial

Here's a couple of our Fundy islands from the air - i love the layers of sediment. Great photo from a colleague, Carl Newman, from Florida who 'happened to be driving by' (in the air, that is) on his way to Halifax to have his hurricane hunting aircraft serviced (yes, this is for real!).

The only thing is... I'm embarrassed to say that I'm not quite sure which islands they are...I don't often see the Bay of Fundy from the air so I'm a bit puzzled. I'm thinking they are Two Islands or a couple of the Five Islands in Minas Basin. Got any ideas? Send me a comment using the Comment tab below...!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Mud, mud, glorious mud!

Here's some Bay of Fundy insider information: how to enjoy a do-it-yourself, no-cost Bay of Fundy foot spa.

  • Visit the upper part of the Bay of Fundy - Minas Basin or Chignecto Bay - best.
  • Walk down to the beach at low tide, remove shoes, roll up pantlegs, walk out on the ocean floor, seek muddiest sections of beach
  • Enjoy the sklooshing of good clean mud between your toes, repeat, laugh, and celebrate our wonderful Bay in all its forms.
Took this video on Evangeline Beach, near Wolfville, this weekend. It was about 30 degrees with no wind so by late afternoon all roads lead to the beach, not to swim, but to mud. Not very sophisticated but oh, so fun! (p.s. don't forget to check the local tide schedule before you go and to keep a close eye on the moving beach around you!). Also please refrain from walking on these beaches in August when migratory birds are feeding & should not be disturbed.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Bay of Fundy Tidal Village on Stilts!

This week I was delighted that work-related travels took me to a great little Bay of Fundy community at the opposite end of the Bay: Bear River, Nova Scotia.

Bear River is not your typical town, even for the Bay of Fundy! True, like some it's located six kilometres inland on a tidal river but downtown you'll discover something peculiar: many buildings propped up over the river on stilts!
I took this photo at low tide. You can see that the river has become but a stream, revealing the stilts that underpin these historic buldings.

Easy access to this waterfront enables visitors to see both the horizontal and vertical effects of the Bay of Fundy tides. (There is a good explanation of these two tidal effects on the Bay of Fundy Tourism Partnership website). Seeing Bear River's high and low tide extremses definitely qualifies as one of the Bay's "cool things to do"!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

The Scoop on Wild Blueberries

Here are a few of the questions we commonly get asked about wild blueberries....

Why do they grow so well around the Bay of Fundy?

Wild Blueberries really like the glacial soils and climate in our region (including the state of Maine in the U.S.) - see map for key blueberry producing regions.

I've heard that Wild Blueberries are one of only a few berries native to North America. What are the others?

Like Wild Blueberries, Concord grapes and cranberries have grown naturally here for thousands of years.

How do Wild Blueberries differ from cultivated blueberries?

    • Taste: Their unique mixture of tanginess and sweetness give wild blueberries delicious burst of natural flavor, unlike the slightly sour taste of cultivated blueberries (in my opinion)
    • Size: Naturally smaller and more compact than cultivated berries, the wild ones deliver more berries per pound.
    • Performance: Wild blueberries hold their shape, texture and deep-blue color through a variety of baking and manufacturing processes. And they freeze extraordinarily well. In fact, individually quick frozen (IQF) wild blueberries maintain their quality for more than two years.
    • Higher Antioxidant properties: Wild blueberries contain more anthocyanin – a powerful antioxidant linked to protection against brain aging – than their cultivated cousins.
Visit the Wild Blueberry Producers Association website for more info on the health benefits of blueberries.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Raking in the Blue!

Those of us familiar with cattle or grain farms may be surprised to learn that there are farms around the Bay of Fundy whose sole existence depends on blueberries. Big business though they may be, blueberries are still mostly harvested here the traditional way: by hand with a blueberry rake! This rake looks like a strange combination of a metal dustpan and a broad-toothed comb (note the inside handle).

Most of our blueberries are wild blueberries (as opposed to the jumbo highbush or cultivated berries) so, as you can imagine, this is back breaking, if tasty, manual labour. Still, most of us have done it, and many continue to scoop throughout the blueberry season from mid-August through early September. There is nothing like being paid by the pound to teach you the value of a good day's work!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Happy Blogday to me!

All of a sudden I realized I've reached two milestones with my Bay of Fundy blog: I just made my 200th post and I celebrated my one year anniversary as a blogger this week. This Bay of Fundy blog was launched on Sept 2, 2006! It amuses me greatly now that I once worried I'd run out of things to say about the Bay of Fundy...clearly not a problem!
Here are a few of my favourite posts from the early few months of blogging:
Whales are following me!,
very cool Fundy 3D map,
Lobster for Christmas dinner,
Winter arrives on the Bay of Fundy.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Drying Dulse on the Beach

Although bagged dulse is available year round in every corner store on the Bay of Fundy this is the time of year when some of the best harvesting is done. As noted in previous posts, dulse is simply plucked out of the water at the lowest of low tides then laid out above the tide line to dry (so it doesn't get washed back out into the Bay when the tide comes in!). This activity is fairly low tech but it dries the dulse to perfection! Here are some folks at the task at Partridge Island beach, near Parrsboro, Nova Scotia. Previous dulse posts: Seaweed Anyone?, Do We Really Eat Seaweed?, Many Forms of Dulse, Got Dulse?,

Friday, August 31, 2007

Blueberry Ginger Sorbet

Now that our blueberries are abundant, it's a perfect time to 'waste' a whole bunch on blueberry sorbet - combining two of my favourite Bay of Fundy flavours: blueberry and ginger! This recipe comes from The Joy of Ginger cookbook.

Blueberry Ginger Sorbet

1 cup + 2 Tbsp white sugar
1 cup + 2 Tbsp water
3 Tbsp grated ginger
6 cups wild blueberries
1/4 c lemon juice

1. Combine sugar, water, ginger in medium sauceapn and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Let stand til cool.
2. Place this syrup along with blueberries and lemon juice in blender; blend til smooth. Strain through a fine wire sieve.
3. Refriderate until cold, then freeze.
4. Before serving, take it out of freezer and let stand for a half hour. (The flavours stand out best when softened slightly).

Makes about 5 cups. P.S. Watch out for funny blue teeth!!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Rapelling at Cape Enrage

In additional to searching for rocks on the beach , there are other ways to get "up close and personal" with Bay of Fundy geology - such as by rappelling. Since our tides cause constant coastal erosion it's best to do this with the assistance of staff who have the gear and the proper training. If you are inclined toward rappelling, you would likely get a kick out of visiting Cape Enrage in New Brunswick. Rappelling here involves about two hours of descents (about 6 repetitions if you're up for them) on 140-ft cliffs overlooking the Bay of Fundy's tides and currents. It will inspire those of us who are middle-aged to know that an 80 year old Fundy gal celebrated her birthday a couple years ago by rappelling at Cape Enrage!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Norman-style chateau on the Bay of Fundy

I just realized that since making the 'architecture' category on my blog last month, I haven't actually created many posts - yet truth be told Bay of Fundy architecture could easily fill its own blog for many years. To me, the architecture around the Bay is such an intriguing mix of classic, creative and quirky!

Take this Norman-style chateau, for example. It's the Digby Pines Resort in Digby, Nova Scotia. This classic resort has welcomed guests from all over the world to the Bay of Fundy since 1929. During a recent stay at the Pines, I got up early to catch the terrace in morning light as well as the view across the pool to the Bay. I love the ambiance and historic feel of these beautifully maintained vintage hotels!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Look What The Tide Dragged In...

You never quite know what the 100 billion tonnes of water moving into the Bay of Fundy on each tide is going to drag in...

Whale tour operator, Quoddy Link Marine in St Andrews, New Brunswick just reported seeing this rare ocean sunfish, Mola mola. Here is an excerpt from the Quoddy Whale blog:

These bizarre looking fish, from the same family as pufferfish, averages about 6 feet long and weighs 2200 lbs! The most obviously strange part is their shape, they look like a fish head without a tail. Through the course of evolution their caudal fin (tail) has disappeared and been replaced by a pseudo-fin called a clavus. Their diet consists mainly of jellyfish and to maintain their bulk they have to consume a very large amount. Ocean sunfish are covered in a slime instead of scales and they swim by a characteristic sculling motion of their dorsal and anal fins. They are the heaviest "bony" fish in the world, but their bodies are actually mostly comprised of cartilaginous tissues which is lighter than bone and can allow them to grow to such a large size (which is uneconomical for other bony fishes).

For a clearer photo and more info on the Mola mola, visit Wikipedia.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Oh, To Be A Bay of Fundy Cow!

This is definitely not the first time I've come across a field of cows grazing nonchalantly beside a million dollar view. I find quite refreshing that we've got so many lovely fields like this around the Bay of Fundy. In many other parts of the world pastures with such views would have already been sold for housing developments. Maybe we're a bit behind the times but maybe we like it that way....

Monday, August 20, 2007

Blueberry Cake

The Bay of Fundy region has the perfect soil and climate for growing blueberries. Early August bring the wild blueberry harvest season which will continue for about a month. I noticed the first folks out scooping this morning. Looks like time to dust of my favourite blueberry cake recipe. This is the best!

Blueberry Cake with Lemon Sauce

1 scant cup butter, room temp
2 c white sugar
½ c milk
½ c hot water
4 eggs
3 ¼ c flour
½ tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
2 c blueberries (fresh or frozen)

Cream butter and sugar. Add milk and boiling water. Stir. Sift flour, salt & baking powder. Add alternately with eggs. Fold in berries gently. Put in 9 x 13 pan.


Mix the following with a pastry cutter. Sprinkle atop the cake batter in the pan.
½ c brown sugar
½ c cold butter
¾ c flour

Bake at 350F for 45 min to 1 hr

Generally, I'm all for making everything from scratch but seriously this is an awesome sauce that is a whole lot easier to make: it's lemon pie filling! Just mix according to directions, but add up to 1 c extra water to thin it to sauce consistancy.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Quartz crystals

One of the neat things about basalt is that other rock seams are sometimes found between its layers. A rough seam of quartz crystals lies exposed at Cape Sharp. Here are some photos I took last weekend (with my hand in there for some perspective). Typically Fundy, I think there might be some agate mixed in there too!