Friday, June 29, 2007

Where the wild peas grow

Where else would you expect to find copious amounts of wild peas but beachside around the Bay of Fundy? Took this photo of pea blossoms this afternoon. I've heard that our first nations, the Mi'kmaq, used both the peas and blossoms for medicinal purposes.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Historic John Lusby Marsh

Whoa, I knew I'd really caught the photography bug when I snapped this photo out of my car window while driving this week. This is a cheery, somewhat unsung spot on the Bay of Fundy: the John Lusby Marsh located on the Cumberland Basin just west of Amherst, Nova Scotia.

This marsh has the distinction of being the largest continuous tract of salt marsh remaining in the upper Bay of Fundy. The 1020-acre marsh was diked by Acadian settlers about 300 years ago. Much of the marsh is still farmed although some has returned to salt marsh conditions due to erosion of the historic dikes. Lusby Marsh is a National Wildlife Area under the Wildlife Area Regulations of the Canada Wildlife Act.

The wildlife area consists of John Lusby Salt Marsh and Amherst Point Migratory Bird Sanctuary, two very different wetlands, and separated by a narrow, 1 km-wide upland ridge. I was driving on road across this ridge when I snapped this photo.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Rafting the tidal bore

A list of cool things to do around the Bay of Fundy would be incomplete without mention of another of our zany water sports: rafting the incoming tidal bore. This is sort of the same idea as jet boating Reversing Falls mentioned in a previous post. The incoming Fundy tide creates a roller coaster of turbulance when it meets the flow of outgoing rivers. There are many tidal bores on rivers of all sizes around the Bay but the Shubenacadie River, near Maitland, Nova Scotia offers the full rafting deal. Zodiacs are the boat of choice; quickdry fabrics the garb of choice (well actually, float suits are superb in May and October). This experience involves weaving in and out of the tidal rapids for a 2-hr or 4-hr adventure.

I've gone tidal bore rafting with two excellent companies: Shubenacadie River Runners and Shubenacadie Tidal Bore Park. They've both got great facilities and energetic, qualified staff to lead the rafting experience. It's a blast!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Walking the Saint John waterfront

One of the other great activities to do in Saint John is to explore the newly reclaimed "Harbour Passage" waterfront trail system. It's a beautifully crafted set of walking/cycling trails all along the harbour's edge. The trail also includes lookoffs, interpretive panels, benches and great places to stop to read the paper, watch the tide come in, or the fog lift. I took these snaps early this morning while I was one of a few walkers out enjoying the views!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Beach volleyball anyone?

This has to be right up there on my list of cool stuff to do around the Bay of Fundy: playing beach volleyball on the waterfront in Saint John. Someone with a great eye for opportunity carved out a half dozen beach volleyball courts in the historic heart of the city across from a bunch of restaurants & pubs with boardwalk patios. I caught some players 'in action' when I walked around the SJ waterfront at dusk.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

View from the upper deck

I snapped this pretty pic as we left the Digby (NS) harbour heading for Saint John (NB) aboard the Princess of Acadia ferry. This is a grand 3-hr trip (think: mini-cruise) across the Bay of Fundy. Maybe its because my ancestors were shipbuilders here in the Bay but, to me, no vacation is complete without some contact with water!

As I mentioned in a March post, this ferry is getting a refurb. New passenger comforts, high-speed internet, Starbucks, Bay of Fundy intepretive program, etc. Folks who live around the Bay are excited about this makeover. The changes are being unveiled tonight during a special evening cruise from Saint John and on Saturday with an open house event in Digby. I'll be taking in the festivities tonight - whooo hooo!

Many forms of dulse

I'm working in Saint John, New Brunswick, this week and noticed that one of the vendors at the City Market had a great variety of dulse and dulse flakes (teensy dried up bits of dulse in a shaker). I even discovered a new product: dules flakes with garlic. A bit further down into the market were the more traditional paper bags of loose dulse for sale. Delish!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Got dulse?

Previous blog readers will know I'm crazy about dulse - our edible Bay of Fundy seaweed treat. It's dulsing time now at various locations around the Bay . Dulse harvesters are venturing out in their small open boats at 4 and 5 a.m. these days, depending on the tides, to pull in loads of the tasty seaweed.

Dulse can be taken from the same rocky bed every two weeks — it grows that fast — and is one of the few remaining sea products whose harvest is not regulated by government.

Wanda VanTassel of Gullivers Cove on Digby Neck is up to her elbows in the purple seaweed every day.

She owns Fundy Dulse, a company that harvests, packs and sells dulse and stuff made from dulse, like dulse flakes and even dulse soap. Wet dulse loses about 50 per cent of its weight while drying.

Dulse, which is rich in iodine and minerals, contains some protein and has been used for everything from folk remedy to snack food. After the dulse is harvested, it is cleaned of things like shells and sticks and delivered to the drying grounds where it is spread out. On a good day, it can be picked up for packaging after four or five hours in the sun.

Click here for my previous posts on dulse.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Meet another Bay of Fundy artist

The Bay of Fundy certainly seems to encourage creativity among its residents. I recently met a Bay of Fundy fibre artist in the blogsphere: June Cable. June recently opened a new studio gallery in Pennfield on the New Brunswick side of the bay: Wizard of Felt.

Here's a photo of her marvelous work: a wall hanging of lily pads at Canal. Canal, a crossroads-sized commuity, just outsdie St George is one of only two natural canals in the world, the other is somewhere in China. Our Canal flows between Lake Utopia and the Magaguadavic River (which, of course, flow into the Bay of Fundy at St George).

I love it....a geography lesson thru art!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Two provinces fund tidal power study

It's been a few months since I've had anything to report on the potential of tidal power development in the Bay of Fundy. Interesting news this week, though: New Brunswick and Nova Scotia have just announced that they are jointly funding a study that will bring marine renewable power generation one step closer to reality.

The two provincial governments will each invest $75,000 in a strategic environmental assessment of tidal power in the Bay of Fundy. The assessment will include a comprehensive consultation process with organizations and groups with an interest in the future of tidal power in the region as well as a socio-economic impact assessment report.

The Offshore Energy and Environmental Research Association, a group of Nova Scotia universities established and funded by the provincial government to study the sector, will be responsible for carrying out the request for proposal process.

When the final report is back in the governments' hands next year, the energy ministers will have a better idea of the background of the competing tidal technologies on the market and the potential impact on the environment. And that information will serve as a starting point for the public engagement process to solicit concerns from groups such as fishermen, the shipping industry and the tourism sector.

That's a great step forward for what could possibly be the greenest form of energy on the planet.
(photo: NASA image from space of Minas Basin, Bay of Fundy, high-low tide - one of the possible tidal energy sites),

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Prince Henry was here...or was he?

Bay of Fundy legend has it that, in 1398, Prince Henry Sinclair, Earl of the Orkney Islands (Scotland) became the first European to visit the 'new world'. This is about a hundred years before other, more famous explorers: John Cabot in 1494 and Christopher Columbus in 1492/98. The owner of the little cottage at Partridge Island had a bit of fun crafting a cairn to Prince Henry, equipt with a celtic cross and all!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A wee faerie cottage on the Bay

There is a curious little cottage bordering the salt marsh on the Partridge Island beach (near Parrsboro). This wee cottage, about 10 ft x 10 ft, sits up brightly behind a homemade dyke designed to keep the higher tides away. Creative design, local stones and wildflowers make a faerie-like oasis here at the edge of the Bay of Fundy. I thought this made a fine addition to my new 'architecture' blog category...more to follow over the coming weeks and months.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Feedback for CBC

It appears that the people continue to speak with regard to the puzzling CBC 7 Wonders results: click here to read Canadian comments on the CBC blog. I'm clearly not alone in my support of the Bay of Fundy!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Not so wonder-ful Bay of Fundy?

Ewwww, a panel of judges has conferred and despite the Bay of Fundy placing third among Canadians in popular vote, oddly we didn't actually made the final list of Canada's 7 Wonders. Admittedly, quite a few really great places & things received the honour: Pier 21 in Halifax, Niagara Falls, The Rockies, Old Quebec, Prairie skies, the igloo, and the canoe.

So, in celebration of this CBC contest (which really did succeed in raising awareness of so many great places in our country), I'm posting the following compromise: a historic photo of a Mik'maq canoe traversing the Bay of Fundy. So there!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Celebrating Environment Week Fundy-style

Here is an interesting way to celebrate Nova Scotia's annual environment week: buy the most environmentally friendly outboard engines available! Well, that really is a good choice for a whale watch tour operator. Tom Goodwin of Ocean Explorations Zodiac Whale Cruises in Tiverton, NS, is starting his 2007 season with brand new Honda four stroke outboards (ultra low emission)! The company regularly "refreshes" the outboards for both dependability and reduced impact on the environment.

Biologist Tom's Ocean Explorations Zodiac Whale Cruises business is one of the most environmentally friendly with whom I've ever come in contact. Tom owns the original hybrid car (2000 Honda Insight), buys wind energy, the business has solar heating, and donates alot of money to environmental and conservation groups (well before 'green became keen' in the past few months).

P.S. That's humpback whale flipping up its pectoral fin beside Tom's zodiac!!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Weir fishing video

While at the fish weir on the weekend I also caught some video. Take a look at this video of the guys in action:

Monday, June 04, 2007

Bay of Fundy weir fishing FAQs

I chatted for awhile with owner, Alan, as he watched his guys scoop up the catch. Although this weir is probably one of the Bay of Fundy's best kept secrets, Alan notes that tourists often happen upon it then ask an interesting slew of questions. Here are the weir FAQs with answers:

1. What types of fish are caught in the weir?
Herring first (May, early June) then Mackeral and Shad

2. Does the weir operate yearround?
No, the fish run in the spring and early summer. The weir is not fished in the warmer weeks of summer (later July and August). Before winter, the nets are completely removed to avoid damage by ice cakes. The nets are re-strung in April.

3. Do you need a license to have a weir?
Yes, Alan has a Dept of Fisheries license just like any other commercial fisherman. This insures that no other weir is set in close proximity. Alan has carried the license in this location for about 20 years but a weir in this location dates back to about 1880. There are a couple other small weirs about 15 miles away in Five Islands but no others anywhere nearby.

4. How much time do you have to get the fish out before the tide comes back in?
This varies with every tide (the highest tide times of the month are also the lowest tides) but generally the boys are in the weir with their hip waders about an hour before low tide and an hour after it.

5. After all the fish have been scooped why is the floor of the weir swept free of fish scales, etc.
Over the years Alan has noted that if he does not "clean the barn" with each tide then he does not catch any fish on the next tide. It's almost as if there is a bad vibe for the fish with a mess around.

6. Do you ever catch anything else in the weir ?
Occasionally a few other types of fish are caught, like cod, but this weir has been purposely designed to follow the natural instincts of herring and mackeral. As the tide rises they swim across the shoreline until they are guided by the weir's nets into its figure-8 section. Herring and mackeral naturally swim in a figure-8 pattern so they are content to swim around in the weir without venturing back out the wide opening. Sea mammals such as seals or porpoises would figure out how to leave 'by the main entrance' and are therefore not caught. If they were, the weir is equipt with a handy trap door at its base on the water side that would enable their safe release.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Netting the catch

As luck would have it, I timed my dog walk to the beach perfectly today to watch the weirmen netting their substantial haul from the weir. Once the fish are drawn in by the weir they are gathered by hand net, boxed and shipped immediately as much-desired bait for lobster traps.

Here's a closer photo of one of the weirmen scooping the herring and dropping them into the crates. As usual, the guys mused at my perennial fascination with this historic tradition yet kindly insured that I had a couple fresh herring in a grocery bag to take home for breakfast.

Bay of Fundy fish weir at low tide

Further to last week's road to nowhere photos showing the mysterious route to our local fish weir at high tide, here is the same set of photos at low tide. There has been a weir in this location since the late 1800s. Fundy's strong tides and winter ice cakes mean it has to be rebuilt each spring. After several weeks of weir repairs this spring it is now back in full swing and the catchs are great.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Bay of Fundy - NASA image of the day from space!

Here's an up-to-date satellite image of the Bay of Fundy from space: taken just two days ago. You can practically see the grass growing! Every day NASA selects a favourite satellite image to post on their website; it was the lovely springtime Bay of Fundy this week.

We're all getting quite used to seeing satellite images (especially since the invention of Google Earth). However, NASA (through the MODIS program) was probably the first to get such photos out into general cirulation in the early days of the internet.

MODIS (or Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) is a key instrument aboard the Terra and Aqua satellites. Terra's orbit around the Earth is timed so that it passes from north to south across the equator in the morning, while Aqua passes south to north over the equator in the afternoon. This means that Terra MODIS and Aqua MODIS are viewing the entire Earth's surface every 1 to 2 days acquiring data.

MODIS plays a vital role in the development of global, interactive Earth system models able to predict global change accurately enough to assist policy makers with making sound decisions regarding the protection of our environment.