Saturday, December 30, 2006

Bay of Fundy lobster

The Bay of Fundy lobster season closes in our area (zone 35) tomorrow so our Christmas day feed was well-timed. We piled a dozen lobsters on a platter in the middle of the table then dug a whole new meaning to all-u-can-eat! I don't think I'll quit my day job to become a food photographer but my first 2-pounder was every bit as appetizing as it looks in this photo!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Dreaming of a white Christmas...

Weather forecast is not looking very 'white' for Christmas around the Bay of Fundy this year. However, we had a couple nice snowfalls earlier in December at least to get winter launched. I just opened my email to find these frosty photos from the Annapolis Historic Gardens taken a after the first snowfall this month. I previously posted some of Trish's fabulous pics... Fundy in Bloom in November!!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

$7 million Christmas gift for Joggins Fossil Cliffs UNESCO Bid

Just heard about an early "Christmas gift" for one of the Bay of Fundy's most intriguing natural attractions: the Joggins Fossil Cliffs!

Yesterday federal and provincial governments announced $7-million for development of an interpretive centre at the Joggins Fossil Cliffs; a key part of a plan to win UNESCO world heritage status for the site.

The site covers 10 kilometres of cliffs up to 30 metres high in the village of Joggins, Nova Scotia. It's about an hour along the coast from where I live in Parrsboro. At Joggins the tides continually erode the cliffs, exposing fossils that date back 310 million years.

The money will be spent on creating a tourism and heritage centre, which would house displays and lab space for researchers, as well as a cafe and store. The project also includes an access trail to the beach, guides to explain the site to tourists, and a marketing plan to transform the centre into a major tourist destination.

The $9-million Joggins Fossil Centre should be completed next summer (with the UNESCO World Heritage designation expected in 2008). I think this will add an outstanding facility to an already amazing natural wonder - Bay of Fundy fossils - way to go, Joggins!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Oranges & cloves for Christmas

Decorating oranges with cloves is another Bay of Fundy Christmas tradition. Oranges can be completely covered in cloves (and later tucked into a closet as a natural air freshener for the rest of the winter), or a simple design can be created. I like to make a pattern then pop a tealight candle into the top, just like this one on the living room mantle of our captain's house.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Fundy Christmas cookies, Italian-style

Finally got around to making my Christmas cookies this week. One of my favourite culinary exercises involves taking customary Bay of Fundy ingredients and popping them into other people's traditional recipes - in this case Italian biscotti. Several years ago I developed two recipes that have become Christmas favourites: cranberry-orange biscotti and gingerbread biscotti. Cranberries are harvested commercially here in the Bay of Fundy and also grow wild in bogs. Ginger is a prominent element in Fundy baking, having arrived generations ago when Fundy's brigs and barks sailed the international spice routes.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

What a difference a day makes...

So much for winter on the Bay of Fundy! It's plus 5 degrees C today and all the pretty snow has melted away. Here's a video of that same beach I shot yesterday - now looking strangely summery...hrmph! Ah well, it's still a neat video to have beside the other because this is LOW tide at Partridge Island beach and yesterday panoramic was shot at HIGH tide. **notez: the Bay has lots of beaches with much more extreme tide differentiation than this one!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Bay of Fundy winter beach video

I had such a great result with the winter beach photos that I decided to video the high tide beach at the edge the Parrsboro harbour. I finally opened a YouTube account so I could post this properly - that's assuming I can figure out how to embed it... Take a look and see what you think!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Christmas with the Captain

I just can't resist adorning our historic sea captain's house (inside & out) on the Bay of Fundy with the best acoutrements that nature can provide - balsam fir branches, fresh holly & pine boughs. We just enjoyed our first 'sky is falling' snow this week - chubby fresh flakes. Nothing like a blanket of the white stuff to get me in the mood for the holidays.
(to see our house emblazoned in autumn leaves, check out one of my Fall colours postings)

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Winter arrives on the Bay of Fundy

After a delightfully warm and colourful autumn on the Bay of Fundy, the weather has moved on to the next chapter of our storybook seasons: winter. I love how snow transforms Fundy's beaches into monochromatic palates where even colour photos like these express the subtle texture of artful black & whites. I snapped these pics this afternoon just after high tide turned to recede in the Parrsboro harbour.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Shipping lanes shifting for whales!

Ah well this news is timely, seeing as we've been talking about whales a lot this week...

From London, England... the International Maritime Organization is expected to vote to shift the busy shipping lanes off Massachusetts up to 16 km (10 miles), north and narrow them by a mile to reduce collisions with whales - the first time such a detour would be enacted in U.S. waters to protect an endangered species.

The move, government scientists say, will reduce the risk of ship strikes to the North Atlantic right whale by up to 60 percent and other large baleen whales by as much as 81 percent.

Three years ago, the IMO, a United Nations agency, shifted shipping lanes in Canada's Bay of Fundy four miles east to protect right whales, the first time that a world shipping lane had been altered to protect an endangered species.

The U.S. government has been trying to do the same for several years and has documented the vast number of right whales and other large whales that feed and frolic smack in the middle of the current shipping lanes off Massachusetts.

Redrawing lanes is not simple; changes must be submitted to the International Maritime Organization who can take more than a year to review requests and make a decision.

If the U.S. government request is approved, the shift will take place in June, 2007, to ensure there is time to make changes to navigational charts. An International Maritime Organization official said this week that a subcommittee on navigation and safety recommended the change and that such recommendations usually gain adoption by the agency.

Researchers at U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have discovered that whales tend to feed in two distinct areas that form an hourglass-like design off the U.S. coast.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Right whale nursery?

The area where Right whales calve, off the coast of the southeastern United States, is the home to three major shipping ports. This means that the whales' nursery is criss-crossed by at least 245 ocean-going vessels a month.

Whale reseachers in this region regularly perform aerial surveys between now and the end of March, looking for mothers and their calves, in order to recommend appropriate shipping routes and specific conservation efforts.

Researchers in Canada and the U.S. are constantly monitoring whale population size, trends, migration patterns, distribution, demographics, reproduction, mortality rates, inheritance of skin markings, degrees of chemical exposure, association patterns, mating strategies and incidence of past human interactions.

Because there are so few right whales, researchers know individuals at a fairly intimate level and can readily recognize individual whales by their markings.

Incidentally, Right whales have a natural life span similar to that of humans - one whale is known to have been around for more than 70 years.

Monday, December 04, 2006

More about Right whales

Since we're on the topic of Right whales, I thought you might like to know a bit more about them...

From the 11th century to the early 20th century, right whales were hunted extensively.Their name comes from the fact that they were the "right" whales to kill: They are large, slow moving and filled with oil, blubber and high-quality baleen, or what whalers called whalebone.

Almost anything we'd use steel for now was made of whalebone in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, including bedsprings, pie cutters, corsets and buggy whips.

In 1935, after being declared "commercially" extinct, the right whale was granted federal protection. Unfortunately, the population has not rebounded the way researchers would like...with only approximately 350 whales surviving today.

It's predicted that if the population continues to stagnate, the species will be extinct in 200 years. Part of the problem is that right whales are long-lived and reproduce slowly. But the real danger lies at the intersection of human and right whale behavior and geographical preference.

Like people, right whales spend most of their time near the coasts - in areas where boat traffic is high and fishing gear, such as lobster pots and lines, is prevalent.

added Dec 10 - for more info on our whale's visit the Fundy whale blog

Friday, December 01, 2006

Fundy whales have Georgia on their minds

I always knew that the Bay of Fundy's northern right whales headed south for the winter, but I've only recently thought about where exactly they go.

Whale1I've discovered they're on their way to a 25 mile wide swath of ocean that lies between Brunswick, (north of St. Simons Island), Georgia to Jacksonville, Florida. These coastal waters are the only known calving grounds of this highly endangered species of whale – an estimated 300 – 350 whales remain.

Seasonal movements are still poorly understood but, generally, they move between rich summer/fall feeding grounds (Bay of Fundy) and warm winter calving grounds. During November and December right whales almost disappear with a few scattered reports coming from far flung areas such as Jeffreys Ledge off Northern Massachusetts and offshore of Cape May, New Jersey. By late winter and early spring, two distinct groups appear: calving females off southern Georgia/northern Florida and non-calving whales feeding off the Massachusetts coast (Cape Cod Bay, Great South Channel and Nantucket Sound).

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Right whales heading south...finally!

Good news to report this week. About 40 rare North Atlantic right whales that were lingering in the Bay of Fundy are finally heading south. It's assumed that they delayed their departure by six weeks because of an abundance of plankton in the Bay.

The Department of Fisheries reports that they were spotted in the Gulf of Maine as they ventured further south.

Earlier this month, lobster fishermen agreed not to set traps within two kilometres of a whale in a bid to prevent entanglements, while the Fisheries Department conducted aerial surveillance flights to track their movements.

Officials and conservation groups say the whale's eventual departure caps a bleak season that saw the loss of two females and the deaths of a calf and adult that were hit by ships in the summer feeding grounds.

Two whales could have produced in excess of 20 calves over their lifetimes - a vital contribution to a population that has dwindled to about 320 worldwide after years of being slaughtered, dying in gear or being struck by ships.

About 19 right whales were born this year, but one calf was killed and a pregnant female died in U.S. waters.

Scientists and ecologists are hoping to reduce the risk of ship strikes by pressing the International Maritime Organization to make the Roseway Basin an area to be avoided by large vessels. Whales migrate to the basin, a diverse ecosystem rich in marine life off the southwest coast of Nova Scotia, every year to feed on plankton and other food sources.

Lori Murrison of the Grand Manan Whale and Seaboard Research Station said Transport Canada has approved the initiative to issue an advisory to seafarers and is optimistic the international group will approve it, possibly next year.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Bay of Fundy wrack lines

Wrack lines are rows of seaweed, shells pieces, driftwood, etc. that run the length of the beach marking the place where the tide reaches its highest point. Since the tides of the Bay of Fundy differ in height every day a quick glance down the beach will often give you a glimpse past few days' tidal history.

I snapped this photo at our tidal harbour when I was out walking the dog on the weekend. There are 5 clear wrack lines there showing that the tide was higher in the first cycle (1), then slightly lower on the subsequent four cycles. One big full moon tide will scoop up all those rack lines and form a nice neat line along the beach above them all!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Strange uses for Bay of Fundy lighthouses

I've heard of people having their weddings at lighthouses, etc., but today heard of something even more fun (okay, so I'm a car nut!): Cape d'Or Lighthouse and approaching cliffside roads being used for 2007 truck road tests by General Motors - no kidding!

Here's a taste of Lesley Wimbush's road test commentary...(photos also by Lesley).

We're high above the point where the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia runs into the Minas channel and yet, the clifftops of Cape D'or tower over us. Winding down and around the jagged cliffs and thick forest, a rough road resembling a logging trail ends at a ledge that juts out into the Bay. Perched on this ledge, the Lighthouse of Cape D'or overlooks the hauntingly remote panorama of the Fundy shoreline.

Our arrival at the lighthouse turned bed and breakfast was a scheduled lunch stop on a two-day driving program - a Canadian press launch for General Motors new Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup trucks. Our journey had begun in New Brunswick, with photo stops at the fossil strewn shoreline of Joggins, where fishing boats were left stranded by the receding tide.
We'd reached our rest stop via the harrowing forest road, bordered only by a battered guardrail. Parking our trucks and making our way to the edge of the cliff, more than one person remarked that it could just be the end of the earth....

To read more, take a look at Lesley's full posting (Nov. 24) on!

Friday, November 24, 2006

High/low tide aerial photos

I was digging around in my photo archives this afternoon (a.k.a. cleaning my office) and came across these rarely seen aerial photos of the tide in and tide out at Hopewell Rocks on the New Brunswick side of the bay. Another perspective of the tidal 'scene' in the bay with the awesome tides!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

other awesome Fundy books

There are several other Bay of Fundy books that I'd recommend:

  • Whales of Fundy - a pocket-sized guide to the whales who visit the Bay.
  • Dykes & Aboiteaux - another tiny book that tells the story of the elaborate sluice innovation that allowed the Acadians to cultivate the vast Fundy Bay marshlands for over one hundred years.
  • Tangled in the Bay - a children's book written by Fundy whale researcher, Deborah Tobin. The story of a right whale mother & daughter in the Bay of Fundy, who come to the Bay to feed in the rich waters and prepare for the winter.
  • Dawning of the Dinosaurs - Important fossil finds have occurred in the cliffs overlooking the Bay of Fundy. The story of the rise and fall of the dinosaurs.
Got a favourite Fundy read? send me a note using the comment link below!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Seven Wonders of the World

Did you know that there is currently a global competition to name the seven wonders of the world? In this case it's the seven manmade/architectural wonders of the world...the Egyptian Pyramids being the only surviving structure of the orginal seven wonders of the ancient world.

Anyone in the world can vote by visiting:

Contest organizer, Swiss Adventurer Bernard Weber, "felt it is time for something new to bring the world together" and to "symbolize a common pride in global cultural heritage".

I think it's also time to re-consider the NATURAL wonders of the world. The Bay of Fundy is sometimes identified as one of the world's great natural wonders, along with the Great Barrier Reef, the Grand Canyon, and Mount Everest. Yet, by times, the Bay of Fundy turns up on a list of Seven Forgotten Wonders of the World - ah, that's not so good!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Favourite Bay of Fundy books

The annual Atlantic Canadian booklet arrived in the mail this weekend, reminding me that there are many excellent Bay of Fundy titles out there for consideration as Christmas gifts. I seem to have a habit of collecting Fundy books. One of my favourites...

Tidal Life: A Natural History of the Bay of Fundy
by Harry Thurston - I've read and re-read this book many times and give it to speakers at Fundy conferences or to new people who have moved to my Fundy community. Harry's writing is captivating and informative and the photos are stunning. Published by Nimbus in both hard & soft cover and available at independent book stores, assorted Fundy gift shops and Chapters/Amazon.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Greenpeace, YouTube & Bottom Trawling

Now that I've got a couple months of blogging experience, I figured YouTube was the next web medium to explore. And what to my wondering eyes should appear today but a new video spoof by Greenpeace slamming Canada's stance on deep-sea dragging just as a
six-day round of talks on sustainable fisheries begin at the United Nations.

The online ad features the lippy kids from South Park: their target is the Canadian government and its opposition to a ban on bottom trawling on the high seas.

Greenpeace Canada said they launched the ad Friday as a way to reach a segment of the population who might not otherwise be familiar with Ottawa's position on trawling.

Opponents of bottom trawling say the heavy, weighted nets destroy sensitive marine habitats as they drag along the ocean floor. Conservation groups note that Ottawa has long supported
a ban on drift-netting. They maintain that if Canada refuses to back a trawling ban, along with Spain, Iceland and Japan, it's unlikely the UN will pass a tough resolution outlawing dragging.

Sounds like a perfect time to dash off a note to my local Member of Parliament!!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Bay of Fundy in November?

Just had these photos and a fascinating note from Trish at the Annapolis Historic Gardens in the town of Annapolis Royal on the Nova Scotia side of the Bay of Fundy...reporting dozens of unusual sights in the gardens for this time of year!

Nov. 13 - I had absolutely no intention of doing another Bloom Report for 2006, since the season is over. But then today happened, and well, it's just too nice out there not to share it with others! A member emailed me this morning and told me about some things she found as she walked the Gardens this weekend, including forsythia in the Victorian Garden. So naturally, I thought I should grab my camera and take a few photos. 193 shots later, I came home! The Gardens right now are like a magical treasure hunt... if you keep your eyes open and really explore the Gardens carefully, you'll discover all sorts of flowers, berries or other interesting colour and texture. ~ Trish

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Green Thai Curry Mussels

This month's mussel recipe: Green Thai Curry Mussels...mmmmm!
This recipe is imported from our neighbouring province: Newfoundland! I plucked it right off St John's Telegram newspaper's food section while visiting that fine part of Canada this week. I have to confess, I haven't made this recipe yet so if you venture forth before I do, send me a note to let me know how it turned out!!

Green Thai Curry Mussels
Serves 2 as a main, 4 as an appetizer

1 Tbsp veg oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp chopped fresh ginger
1 Tbsp green thai curry paste (or more if you like it spicier)
1 14 oz can coconut milk
juice of a lime
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 lbs fresh mussels
1/4 chpd cilantro

Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add garlic, ginger and curry paste and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add the coconut milk, lime juice, brown sugar & soy sauce and bring to a gentle simmer for 4-5 minutes. Add mussels, cover, and cook until just open (about 3-4 minutes). Divide the mussels and sauce among bowls, sprinkle with cilantro and serve. Can also be served atop steamed rice.

green thai curry paste is available at Asian markets or in the Asian food aisle of most supermarkets.

Previous mussel recipes on my blog include October's Spiced Beer Mussels and September's Mussels Panagea. Enjoy!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Whales Linger in the Bay of Fundy

Bay of Fundy whales have been in the news a lot in the past few days. Here's photo of a Right whale seen last week by Quoddy Link Marine the coast of Black's Harbour on the New Brunswick side of the bay. Whales in the bay are not normally very newsworthy but whales in the bay at this time of year are! Usually by now all but a couple Bay of Fundy whales have gone into the Gulf of Maine then south for the winter.

Yesterday, the Department of Fisheries & Oceans reported 22 whales in the bay during an aerial assessment and it is estimated that there could be up to 30 out there.

The most pressing concern is that the lobster fishing season is about to re-commence in the this part of the bay. The $30-million fishery takes place in two areas and involves about 300 boats. Possible entanglement of whales in fishing gear as well as boat strikes pose risks to our visiting whale population.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Fundy cliffside apple picking

Just completed one of the more extreme sports in our family - cliffside apple picking! While we have access to many wild apple trees on our property here by the Bay of Fundy it's always this particular tree, hanging over the edge of a 200 foot cliff, that bears the best fruit. Snapped this pic atop the cliff with the bay's horizon looking like it could make a fine slice of that perfect apple!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Monitoring the Bay of Fundy

There are many people and interesting groups around the Bay of Fundy keeping a pretty close eye on the health and vitality of the many different aspects of our bay.

One organization, based right in the bay, is Fundy Baykeeper. Fundy Baykeeper works for the Conservation Council of New Brunswick to defend the public's right to a healthy Bay of Fundy. This right is inherent in laws written to protect the marine environment and the species that inhabit it. Too often, however, these laws are not enforced. Part investigator,
scientist, lawyer, advocate and educator, the Fundy Baykeeper's top priority is to make sure environmental laws are enforced as citizens expect them to be.

This photo shows the fine vessel that Fundy Baykeeper, David Thompson, uses to patrol the Bay of Fundy.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Bay of Fundy poetry

I'm sure that the Bay of Fundy is not the only dramatic seascape to inspire pen to paper! The first time I recall seeing the bay in poetry was Bliss Carmen's Low Tide on Grand Pre in high school English. Bliss Carmen, born in Fredericton, New Brunswick, was, at the time, Canada's best known poet.

Fundy poetry popped to mind recently when I met a come-from-away Parrsboro resident, Donna Sheehy, who just published a book of poetry called "Romancing on the Bay of Fundy: My Soul's Attraction".

Here is a sample of her Bay of Fundy poetry....

There is a rhythm in this place
with a gentle stillness and grace,
unlike anywhere I have been
it touches the soul from within.

The aroma of salt in the air
breezes whisper like a prayer,
alongside the pebbled beach
with blue skies endless reach.

The woodlands frame the coast
a wildlife haven for all to boast,
life is astir in this bountiful place
unharmed by society’s embrace.

Stand silent, face toward the sea
close your eyes and you’ll agree,
the rhythm of this beautiful Bay
will hypnotically lure you away.

"The Rhythm on the Bay"
by Donna Sheehy
Copyright © 2006 All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Bay of Fundy video

Yesterday I had an email from a traveller looking for a comprehensive video of the Bay of Fundy to share with his friends back home. This is the first video that came to mind - I know it is still available to purchase on line....

Where The Bay Becomes The Sea (29:27 minutes)
Produced by the National Film Board of Canada. Still available to order on line, link to location on NFB website.

The richness, complexity and fragility of marine life unfold like a Persian carpet in this beautiful film. The bay of the title is the Bay of Fundy, and where it meets the sea a unique ecosystem has developed. The film traces the intricate interrelationships within the food chain, from tiny plankton, through birds and seals, and finally to whales and humans. More than just a visual feast, the film is a plea for careful management of our ocean resources. First telecast as part of the
Nature of Things series.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Fundy Ferry Saved!

I was relieved to hear this morning that Bay Ferries will be continuing its ferry service across the Bay of Fundy. This is a great service that runs year round back and forth between Saint John, New Brunswick and Digby, Nova Scotia. Just two weeks ago I took this trip with a bunch of tourism folks from the region. There has actually been a ferry service operating across this part of the Bay of Fundy since the early 1800s...well before any significant roadways, let alone highways, were in place. Ridership aboard the current vessel, Princess of Acadia, has decreased somewhat over the past few years which is really too bad as it's an inexpensive way to cruise the bay and also cut down on the driving. If you're lucky you may even see a whale during the crossing! Many folks in the Digby and Saint John areas frequently walk aboard the ferry and venture over to the "other side" to visit friends and relatives.

(added ferry photo on Oct.31)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Bay of Fundy wins!

We won!
Last night at the Canadian national tourism conference in Jasper, Alberta, the Bay of Fundy Tourism Partnership was presented with a national award: the Parks Canada Award for Sustainable Tourism. I've been working with the Partnership for 9 years, so I got to go out to receive the award.

For about a year now we've been doing green business assessments for our member tourism operators: natural and historical attractions, accommodations and adventures. I'm really excited that all this hard work to make the Bay of Fundy a greener place is being recognized. Our partner for the implementing the eco-business program is Dalhousie University's Eco-efficiency Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Here is a picture of me and Peggy (Manager of the Eco-efficiency Centre) in our fancy clothes accepting the award during the gala event.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Whales are following me!

The last thing I expected to see in the world's largest mall was a whale! I knew that West Edmonton Mall had “something for everyone” but I was surprised and oddly amused to discover a life-sized (albeit a bit stout) baleen whale sculpture emerging out of concrete tub in mall floor. Interpretation about this gentle giant was unfortunately a bit scant. With the volume of people moving through West Ed, it struck me as an interesting opportunity to raise awareness of Canadian whales, their endangerment and their sensitive habitats. Or maybe the wishing coins that speckle its tub could be collected for whale research. If such awareness has to take place indoors at least it is better than live shows were captive whales and other sea mammals are “on show”…in my view.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Chick outta water!

Bay of Fundy chick meets Alberta prairie city…I’ve just arrived in western Canada to attend a national tourism conference for the next few days. The Bay of Fundy Tourism Partnership project that I manage (my day job) has been short listed for a national award for sustainable tourism. Before heading out to the resort town of Jasper to attend the TIAC conference I’ve decided to visit the famous West Edmonton Mall...I'm told no visit to Edmonton is complete without it!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Do we really eat seaweed?

I really wasn't joking in my last post, we do eat seaweed here in the Bay of Fundy...and not just because it's good for us. We actually like the taste! well, not everyone likes it, of course, but those who like it sure like it a lot. Sun-dried dulse is eaten as is or is ground into flakes or a powder (then dispensed from a shaker - see photo). I use dulse flakes wherever others might use salt. It's especially nice on poached or scrambled eggs, and also on baked potatoes. It can also be pan fried quickly (garlic butter optional) into tasty chips or baked in the oven covered with cheese then add salsa. When I was a kid we'd toss some on the back of the woodstove in the kitchen to crisp it up - try the microwave for a few seconds now. It can also be used in soups, chowders, sandwiches and salads, or added to bread/pizza dough.

Seaweed anyone?

While we are on the topic of Bay of Fundy culinary delights, I feel compelled to share my love of one of our more unusual foods: dulse. Dulse is a natural sea vegetable (a fancy way of saying seaweed). It grows on the rocks at the low tide line in many areas of the Bay of Fundy. Dulse is best picked at the full and new moom tides (locals in my area call these "dulsing tides") each summer.

In most parts of Fundy it is hand picked then dried naturally, on beach rocks, by sea breezes under the summer sun. Dulse is sold year round in most corner stores, grocery stores and farm markets around the Bay of Fundy. I keep a small stash in the car and in my briefcase in case I get the munchies while traveling. Outside Atlantic Canada I often get funny looks from people while I chomp away on my seaweed snack!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Spiced Beer Mussels

I promised to share more steamed mussel recipes after last month's posting of Mussels Panagea. The spices in this recipe are warm and appealing - perfect for the Bay of Fundy's cooling autumn temperatures.

Spiced Beer Mussels

12-ounce bottle of beer (not dark)
2 bay leaves
4 whole cloves
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 lemon wedges
3 dozen mussels, scrubbed well in several changes of water with the beards scraped off
minced fresh parsley leaves for garnish

In a large pot, bring the beer to a boil with the bay leaves, the cloves, the coriander seeds, the mustard seeds, the cayenne, the salt, and the lemon wedges and boil the mixture, covered partially, for two minutes. Add the mussels, steam them, covered, over moderately high heat, stirring once or twice, for 4 to 7 minutes, or until they are opened, and discard any unopened ones. Serve the mussels sprinkled with the parsley.

Serves 6 as an appetizer, about 3 as a main. Don't forget the crusty bread to sop up the juices!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Thanksgiving swim in Fundy

Well, it was my yellow lab, Belle, who was in the Bay of Fundy for a swim today - not me! The air temperature was 14 degrees C (about 57 F) and I doubt the water temperature was any warmer! By mid-afternoon the tide turned and started to go out exposing enough beach for a vigorous post-turkey walk for me and repeated swimming for Belle.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Tide in...tide out!

Around the Bay of Fundy there are hundreds of interesting places to "see the tides". However, visitors often mistakenly expect to capture Fundy's extreme tidal range during a single trip to the beach.

As any local can tell you, the tides are best seen at low tide and then again (6 hrs, 13 min) later at high tide...but at the same location. These photos are good example of the high/low extremes. But if you'd gone to the beach during high tide only you may not have been terribly impressed - just looks like any pretty cove. It is the difference between high and low that really blows your mind!

These pics were taken by U.S. travel writer, David Rosenthal, when I hosted David and Donna (also a travel writer) here in Parrsboro, Nova Scotia, this summer. Thanks to David for permission to post 'em!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

"Friendly" Whales?

Just received this note & photo from Bay of Fundy whale watch operator, Tom Goodwin:

This season we had a few very interesting experiences with different humpback whales. 'Who's watching whom?' is the most relevant question. But also, is this good for the whales? ... Are they becoming too 'domesticated'?... is that bad or dangerous for the whales?... is our presence interfering with their normal position in their environment? .... or is it all part of 'evolution'? We whale watch operators are a conscientious lot and we like to think our activities watching whales do NOT
interfere with their behaviour, but when the whales express an interest in us, is that an interference? Hmmmmm

Learn more about Tom and his whale watching experience at Ocean Exploration "Zodiac" Whale Adventures, Tiverton, Nova Scotia

Sunday, October 01, 2006

More Fall Colours

The Bay of Fundy's coastal marshes with their twice daily salt bath from the tides also show off variations in fall colours. I was around the bay this week with a tourism colleague from Toronto, Colin Rusch. Here's a photo he snapped enroute.

This is a tidal river/salt marsh near Hillsborough on the New Brunswick side of the bay. Check out the golden sea grasses glowing beautifully below the bright maples.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Fundy's Fall Colours

I think that the Bay of Fundy shores offer some of the best places on Canada's east coast to see the autumn colours. Here, it's not only hardwood trees, like maples, that change colour in the fall. The salt marshes flanking Fundy's tidal rivers are alight with golden sea grasses and our rolling blueberry fields are crimson (a change from bright blue berries and green leaves when harvested about a month ago).

Here is a glorious photo of my captain's house ablaze in autumn special effects here!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Cowboy Question #3

Q3: Why do Fundy's waves come inward toward the shore even when the tide is going out?

Even though the tidal current is actually drawing water away from the shore as the tide recedes, it's true, the waves continue to come toward the shore. Sets of waves, of course, move further and further off shore as the tide backs out.

This happens because waves are actually caused by wind not by the tide itself. Strong winds create rough waters, and light winds cause the water to be more calm. A lot of people who have never seen the tides, like my friends from western Canada, expect that the waves themselves turn around to take the water out!

A person can get a bit cross-eyed trying to figure this out!!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Cowboy Question #2

Q2. When the tide is high in the Bay of Fundy is it low on the other side of the world?

A logical question from our prairie visitors!

Actually it is more likely to be high on the other side of the world and low a quarter way round in either direction. This is because the moon produces two tidal bulges somewhere on the Earth through the effects of gravitational attraction. The height of these tidal bulges is controlled by the moon's gravitational force and the Earth's gravity pulling the water back toward the Earth.

At the location on the Earth closest to the moon, seawater is drawn toward the moon because of the greater strength of gravitational attraction. On the opposite side of the Earth, another tidal bulge is produced away from the moon. However, this bulge is due to the fact that at this point on the Earth the force of the moon's gravity is at its weakest.

Considering this information, any given point on the Earth's surface should experience two high tides and two low tides during each tidal period.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Cowboy Question #1

I had rancher friends visiting from western Canada (Alberta) this past week. They'd never been to the Bay of Fundy before and sure had some interesting questions about the tides. I like to think I'm pretty well versed in matters tidal but a couple of questions caught me by surprise. I'll research and answer these questions in my next few postings...

Q1. Why are the tides so much higher in this funnel shaped bay when there are lots of other funnel shaped bays on various coasts around the world?

The high tides of the Bay of Fundy have less to do with the fact that the bay is funnel shaped and more to do with two other factors:
a) the bottom topography and depth of the bay, and
b) the unlikely fact that the bay's natural resonance coincides almost perfectly in "wave length" with that of the Atlantic ocean.

So, let me explain...

The mouth of the Bay of Fundy is 100 km (62 miles) wide and between 120 and 215 meters (400-700 feet) deep. The bay gradually narrows and becomes more shallow until it splits to form Chignecto Bay and the Minas Basin. The distance across the bay in either of these two smaller bays is only a few km (miles) and the depth at low tide about 14 meters (45 feet).

The gradual tapering and shallowing constricts the tidal flow, causes the water to rise from an average of one meter (3 feet) found elsewhere in other tides to the 16-meter (52 feet) tidal range found at the head of the Bay of Fundy.

The second factor contributing to the highest tides....

Every basin of water has its own natural rhythm and at 290 km (180 miles) long, the time it takes for the tide to flood the length of Bay of Fundy is nearly identical to the time it takes for the tide to come in from the adjoining Gulf of Maine.

This resonance - the meshing of these two rhythms - means that the tidal range is amplified. Called the "Seiche Effect", this amplification is frequently compared to the wave action produced by a child sloshing water back and forth in a bathtub, each wave higher than the one previous. It is this comparison which led to the Bay of Fundy being called 'the world's largest bathtub'.

When the tide is fully out here in our harbour, it really does look like somebody pulled the plug on the tub!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

What About Mackerel?

Well, since I profiled herring, I thought it only fair to give mackerel its due...

Fundy's mackerel (Northern Atlantic mackerel) are found on both sides of the north Atlantic. On this side, mackerel overwinters along the edge of the continental shelf. In spring, Atlantic mackerel move inshore and northward to spawn and then, in summer, move further northward into the Gulf of Maine and thus the Bay of Fundy.

Here in town, the locals know by word-of-mouth when the mackeral are "running" - that is, coming in on the incoming tide and up tidal rivers.

Mackerel can live up to 17 years and grow to a maximum of 61 cm (2 feet).

Atlantic mackerel are sought after for food either cooked or as sashimi (kind of like sushi). Mackerel consists mostly of red meat and has a stronger taste than its cousin, the tuna. Atlantic mackerel is extremely high in vitamin B12 and very high in omega 3, containing nearly twice as much per unit weight as does salmon. Unlike King mackerel and Spanish mackerel, Northern Atlantic mackerel are very low in mercury, and can be eaten at least twice a week according to EPA guidelines.

Mackerel does spoil quickly though - it is best eaten on the day of capture, unless cured. For this reason, mackerel is the only fish traditionally sold on a Sunday in London, England. (It makes me think of the market call "mackerel, fresh, mac-ker-el!").

Did you know that both herring and mackerel are rated by Oceans Alive as an eco-best fish? These folks rate all seafood to help consumers determine whether or not they are making an environmentally responsible choice when buying and ordering fish.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Weir images

Well, I'd better dust off my camera and get down to the local fish weir to take some pics! I've not been able to track down any images showing the weirs that are dry at low tide (like the one near where I live).

In the meantime, here 's a photo of weir at Grand Manan. This kind of weir is 'fished' from a boat as mentioned in my previous posting.

Also, here's a neat animation of fish swimming into a weir and then around in a figure eight pattern waiting to be caught!

And this is a site that features weir photos by Jorgen Klausen. He's taken some absolutely stunning photos of weirs. Take a look!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

A Bit More About Herring

Atlantic herring are called brit for the first year, sardines if under 17.5cm (7"), sea herring (or bloater or roe herring) if larger than 23cm (9"). Full grown herring may reach lengths of 43cm (14").

Herring, in all its various forms, is commonly eaten by people around the Bay of Fundy in the following ways:

Eaten Fresh - steamed, pan fried, baked, BBQ'd

Smoked as Kippers - the head and guts removed and the herring are split down the back into a butterfly fillet, then lightly salted and smoked while pinned to a board for a couple of days. These fillets need refrigeration and are often eaten for breakfast.

Smoked as Bloaters - developed before refrigeration, the fish are heavily salted and then smoked - the process involves stringing herring on sticks like beads, hanging them in smoke houses until finished, taking them to boning sheds to have skin and bones removed and packing in wooden boxes before shipping. The fillets are sometimes called "Digby Chicks". They are eaten as is or soaked and then poached in milk.

Sardines - When herring are small they are called sardines, not to be confused with species of sardines (Sardinia sp. including pilchards) found in the Mediterranean and western Europe. Small sardine herring, with heads and tails removed, are packed into cans with soya oil, spring water or other sauces such as tomato, mustard, etc. Although it is possible to automate the procedure, many sardines are still packed by hand. Once the lid is applied the cans go into a retort oven which cooks the fish in the tin.

Pickled - a tasty treat of smoked or fresh herring chunks, pickling spices, onions, sugar and vinegar.

Pickled herring (known as "Solomon Gundy") is commonly found in Fundy area grocery stores as are kippers, and, of course, Connors Brothers canned herring with their various sauces. I remember my dad taking a couple of cans of herring with his lunch every day in case he needed a snack...and to think potato chips were invented by then and he chose herring instead!

Herring eggs are also used as caviar or in sushi - my personal favourite but not as commonly found out here in rural areas. No wonder there is something about sushi, with its seaweed, fish and roe, that tasted awfully familiar when I first ate it!

In addition to being used as bait for lobster traps, one other non-food use for herring involves the scales....
herring scales are collected and transformed into "Pearl Essence" (used in nail polish, lip gloss, pearly buttons, automotive paint, etc.)

(this information about herring exerpted from the Grand Manan Island website)

Weir Fishing on the Bay

Early this morning I heard my neighbour rumble by in his pickup truck and, since the tide was a couple of hours from being fully out, I figured he was heading down to the beach to check his fish weir for herring, mackeral and assorted other fish. Mussels are certainly not the only seafood that we locals eat that comes from the Bay! Although weir-fishing appears to be a very low-tech (dare I say "biblical") way of catching fish, it is extremely effective. Last year, in a single tide, my neighbour told me that he caught 42 tonnes of fish! Chances are that if you live in North America and eat canned sardines (which are actually herring before they get bigger), those fish probably came from the Bay of Fundy.

People have been weir fishing in the Bay of Fundy for hundreds of years. When European settlers arrived in my area in the 1770s, they would have found our first nations (Passamaquody and Mik'maq) peoples already using brush weirs to catch fish.

So....what is a Weir?
A weir is heart or kidney shaped structure built from long poles and netting that acts to catch and concentrate fish. Fish swimming along the shore first encounter a net running perpendicular to the shoreline and alter their course to swim along it. This "fence" directs the fish into the mouth of the weir where they swim across the weir and encounter the back twine. Once inside the weir, the fish swim in a figure eight pattern always being directed away from the mouth by the curve of the netting (or twine).

Where I live, in the upper part of the Bay, the tide goes out so far that the weirmen actually walk out on the ocean floor a couple of hours before low tide to tend their weirs. There is still a few feet of water in the weir so they move around inside the net scooping up live fish with their hand nets. Since it's low tide they can drive their trucks out onto the beach of the intertidal zone and toss the fish into the fish boxes to take them fresh to market. If you're on the beach at the right moment you can try your hand at gathering fish out of the weir (it's not as easy as it looks) or, at the very least, you can enoy buying fresh fish right out of the water!!

The tricky bit about weir fishing is that the weir needs to be checked with every tide - otherwise the nets risk being damaged by pesky seagulls. It takes 6 hours and 13 minutes for the tide in the Bay of Fundy to go from high to low. Therefore, it's about 12 and 26 minutes from one low tide to the next low tide (or one high tide to the next high tide).

For example if the tide was:
high at 8 am this morning,
it would be low at 2:13 pm,
then high again at about 8:26 pm,
and low again at 2:45 am tomorrow
then high again just before 9 am tomorrow, etc.

So the tide times effectively move ahead about an hour every day. If the tide is high at noon today, it will be high around 1 pm tomorrow. This makes for some fairly inconvenient times for several days of the month when my neighbour has to go out to check his weir in the middle of the night!

In other parts of the Bay of Fundy, such as off Grand Manan Island, the weirs are fished with seining nets from floating boats because the tide doesn't go out far enough to expose the whole weir. The seine boat crew manoeuvers around the inside of the weir, deploying the net into the water. Once completely around, the bottom of the seine can be drawn tight (or pursed). The herring are then literally brought to the surface in the seine by bringing the seine back on board the seine boat.

I'll see if I can track down some drawings or pictures of the two types of related Bay of Fundy weirs.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Recipe for Mussels Panagea

Here’s one of my favourite mussel recipes. The Bay of Fundy was actually connected to northern Africa before the world’s giant all-in-one continent, Panagea, divided (240 million years ago) into the various continents we know today. Maybe that’s why the Morrocan flavours of this mussel recipe seem so familiar to me...yum yum!

1 med. onion, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 ¼ tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika (hot paprika powder if you can get it)
1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger (or powdered, if you don’t like it spicy)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp cayenne
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 (15 oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 dollop of honey
1 (28 oz) can plum tomatoes, drain and reserve juice, chop
3 lbs mussels, scrubbed under fresh water with beards removed
2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

Cook onion, garlic, and spices in the olive oil in a 6-quart heavy pot over medium heat. Cook and stir about 5 minutes until onion is soft and slightly clear.

Stir in the vinegar and simmer for 1 minute.

Add the chickpeas, honey, and tomatoes with their juice.

Increase the heat to medium and gently simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes.

Add the mussels and lower heat to a simmer.

Cover tightly with lid and cook until mussels just open wide, about 3-6 minute. Throw out any mussels that remain unopened after 6 min.

Stir in parsley and serve in shallow bowls with a nice crusty bread. Serves 4.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Very cool Fundy 3D map

OK this is really neat. While I was looking for Fundy maps I came across a really cool map on the Gulf of Maine Aquarium's website. It's an interactive, "pop up" style map that shows the depth and undersea topography of the Bay of Fundy within the Gulf of Maine watershed. It's clear that the Bay is part of the vast inland see known as the Gulf of Maine.

Also here's an excellent description about where the Bay of Fundy is located (nicely said by the folks at the Aquarium):

"Look as far eastward as you can on a map of America. Trace your finger along the coast, over Long Island, past Rhode Island, then slide along the edge of a neatly cupped body of water called the Gulf of Maine. Apparently open to the Atlantic, a discerning eye (and a bathymetric chart!) will note that the Gulf of Maine is a semi-enclosed sea, bordered on three sides by Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia, and neatly boxed in on the east by two underwater banks. Though a part of the North Atlantic from the surface, the Gulf of Maine is really a sea nestled beside an ocean....

...traveling up the Maine coast, rocky headlands and granitic islands offer the drama and beauty many associate with the rugged Northeast. Farther east, in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, the landscapes show the effect of the world's highest tides. In the Bay of Fundy, which separates Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, the tide may rise by as much as 54 feet (17 m) in height. By contrast, tides in Boston Harbor will vary by just 9.5 feet (3 m) from high to low tide. At low tide an array of sandbars, vast mud flats, and even ancient forests drowned by the rise of the sea are exposed."

Hey I appreciate living here today even more than I did yesterday!

September 8 -- Fixed hyperlink.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Where is the Bay of Fundy?

The Bay of Fundy is a 270km (170 mile long) ocean bay on the east coast of Canada between the provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. But if you wanted to kayak all around the bay staying close to the coast you'd find about 1,705 km (1050 mi) of sculpted cliffs, tidal rivers, basalt headlands and smaller bays to explore. Well, the kayaking could be tricky....your kayak trip could become a portage walk on the ocean floor when the tide goes out!!

I grabbed a few images off Google Earth so you can get a sense of where we are - I'm crazy about maps so I'll add more maps and aerials as I discover them!

whoops, I accidentally posted my photo here instead of the profile section. Movin' it!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Welcome to my blog!

I've lived on the Bay of Fundy all my life. I heard about this new blogging thing from my more tech-savvy kids and I thought it was a great opportunity to share the wonderful experience of living and working beside the most extreme tides in the world. I figure 100 billion tonnes of sea water flowing in and out of our Bay twice a day deserves its own blog! (By the way, that's more than the combined flow of all the freshwater rivers in the world)

Check back soon - hopefully I'll track down a good map to show you where I'm posting from.