Friday, November 14, 2008

Where's the big wall of water?

There's no doubt that the top question visitors ask when visiting the Bay of Fundy is: Where do I go to 'see' the tides?

The answer to this question may not be what you think. Before visiting Fundy, most people know two things:
1. that we have the highest tides in the world (with a vertical height of 50 ft/16 metres)
2. that we have tidal bores or rapids of some sort

Unfortunately, tourists often put these two facts together as one thought and then expect to see a 50 ft 'wall of water' or tidal wave gushing into our bay 2x day.

Fundy residents know that there's no tsunami-style wall of water here. In fact, the places where you can see the rapids & bores (like Reversing Falls in Saint John, New Brunswick and Shubenacadie River in Nova Scotia) are not always the best places to see the full vertical effect of the tides (the many Fundy wharves where boats sit on the ground at low tide).

And, at the risk of confusing our poor visitors, there is a third tidal effect (somewhat unsung) which is every bit as impressive:
3. the horizontal effect - places where low tides exposes miles and miles of dry ocean floor.

In truth, when the tide comes in it often laps gently on windless days or is a bit more turbulent on windy days (and during hurricanes). Here's a photo I took a few days ago in the fog just as the tide turned at low tide and started to come back in. Not the wall of water but no less beautiful and amazing a phenomenon that can take your breath away...

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