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).