Tuesday, July 31, 2007

How to 'see' the tides - 1 way

Speaking of questions from folks, this is probably the question Bay of Fundy-ites get asked the most: "Where can I go to 'see' the tides?". The answer to this question is more complicated than you may think. Over the next few days I will give you my best four answers to this single question.

1) Tidal Bore - even if you've never been here before, you'll probably have some pre-awarenss of the phenomenon known as the tidal bore: outflowing rivers flowing back upstream as the tide comes in. Folks who have never been to Fundy before tend to take our 50 foot tide measurement and combine it with the bore concept - then end up thinking that we have a 50 foot (think: tsunami!!) bore twice a day, which we do not. The actual rapids of a tidal bore range between about 10 to 12 feet which is still pretty cool.

Many rivers in the upper part of the Bay have tidal bores but, unless you're a local, you may have trouble finding them. Visitors usually like to visit those with some interpretation. Most of these are on the Nova Scotia side of the bay. I'd suggest:
1) the Maccan River about 10 minutes from Amherst where there are interpretive panels,
2) the tidal bore in Truro just out by the Palliser restaurant
2)the South Maitland Tidal Bore Lookoff where there is an interpretation centre and some panels.

Note that the bore time does not match either the high or low tide times listed on the tide chart for that community. The bore time varies depending on where you're perched to view it from the riverbank.

Personally, I think the best way to experience this tidal change is to go white water rafting in it...it's interesting to watch from the shore but it is hugely fun to raft in. If this is your kinda thing there are two companies I can recommend - I've gone with both: Shubenacadie River Runners and Shubenacadie Tidal Bore Rafting Park. They are located in the village of Maitland about 40 min from Hfx airport in the opposite direction from Halifax. so that'a about 1.5 hr from Halifax.

Friday, July 27, 2007

How to read the Bay of Fundy tide chart

I had an email from someone in Texas this week. They were looking for some tips on how to read a tide chart. This is, in fact, a bit tricky so I'm happy to explain:

1. Best source of tide times (in my opinion) - The Canadian Hydrographic Service, Dept Fisheries, You can zoom in on a map for any geographic area in Canada.

2. Then you can choose a community & the dates you want to visit from the menu bar.
A chart like this will pop up. This chart (for Parrsboro) is saying that low tide today is at 5:16 am and then again at 17:30 (5:30 pm). High tide will be at 11:26 (it will be a 33.8 ft tide), then high tide will be back at 23:44 (11:44 pm) - a 36.7 foot tide.

2007-07-27 (Friday)
Time Height
ADT (m) (ft)
05:16 2. 9.2
11:26 10.3 33.8
17:30 3.1 10.2
23:44 11.2 36.7

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A Bay of Fundy Plein Air Paintout

Just heard of an interesting event happening around the outer edge of the Bay of Fundy this week: a Plein Air Paintout! Twelve artists from the Bay of Fundy region are participating in this 'first annual' event. Painting is happening in situ in Lubec, Maine, and on Campobello Island, NB, among other lovely Fundy coastal spots. Art created from the paintout will be exhibited at historic Mulholland Market in Lubec until August 25.

This is one of participant & instructor Micheal Chelsey Johnson's pieces that was created during the paintout this week. Here's how Michael describes the scene:

The tide went out while we worked, and the clamdiggers showed up with their big wheelbarrows and high boots to work in the mudflat. (I did not include the clamdiggers in my piece.)

Check out other Fundy Plein Air artists in the Art section of my blog.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Conquering Red Rocks!

A glorious day today on the Bay of Fundy! We had company this weekend and did what any Fundy-ite does: took 'em to the beach. We had fun at "Red Rocks" just inside the entrance to Cape Chignecto Provincial Park in Advocate Harbour, NS: clambering up and over these smooth but abrupt rock formations.

If you want to be assured of taking photos that always look 100% perfect, there is no better subject than the contrast between sandstone boulders and blue sky. This is a photo of me "conquering" one of the higher ones - Terri on top of the world!!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Introducing the mudflats

Last, but not least among the five types of Bay of Fundy beaches, allow me to present the often under-appreciated mud flat. Personally I think there is nothing better than Fundy's red/brown mud sklooshing up to swallow my running shoe or, even better, slicing between barefoot toes. Em, don't look took closely at the mud though - there are microscopic shrimp in there, a critical food source for our migratory shorebirds!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Introducing the pebble beach

Fourth in my series of beachscapes around the Bay of Fundy is the pebble beach. Here the rocks are about the size of almonds and peas; far smaller than the cobble beach. Pebble beaches combine with sand to make for easy walking along the ocean floor at low tide. Sometimes, like here at Second Beach, pebbles can 'transform' into mudflats - your best running shoes are not always the best choice for foot attire here!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Introducing the sand bar beach

Bay of Fundy tidal turbulance often whips the lighter bits of the ocean floor into sand dunes or sandbars. At low tide these are great fun to explore but they're also an easy way to get marooned by the incoming tide. Sandbars like this one at Second Beach can quicky become an islands and, as the tides continue to rise, soon covered with 30 to 40 feet. It's always best to know accurate high/low tide times and be 360 degrees aware when you explore the Bay's many beaches.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Introducing the reef beach

The formal definition of a reef is a ridge of rock just below the surface of the water. Reefs around the coast of the Bay of Fundy are below the surface at high tide then fully exposed at low tide. This is a basalt reef at Second Beach. The exposed edge of basalt (a normally angular volanic rock) is slightly smoothed by the daily tides and becomes welcome habitat for various Fundy seaweeds, perwinkles and other small creatures.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Introducing the cobble beach

Here around the Bay of Fundy there are about a half dozen types of beaches. Many beaches, particularly at low tide, have a combination of beach terrains including: cobble beach, sandy or sand barred beach, reefed beach, pebble beach and mud flats.

I think I'll run a 5-day series of photos I took last weekend at one beach: Second Beach in Parrsboro, Nova Scotia. All five types of beach terrain appear within a 100 metres along this one beach!

Today's photo shows a cobble beach. From a geological point of view cobbles are round and oval rocks measuring between 3 and 10 inches in diameter. Most folks would be familiar with ocean or river cobble stones being used to make sidewalks or hearths.

Don't let cobbles deter you from exploring the beach. They are a bit tricky to walk on but often you'll need to traverse a band of cobbles to get further on to the ocean floor so it's well worth it!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

More funds for Bay of Fundy tidal energy

Just heard today that a Bay of Fundy tidal power pilot project proposed by Nova Scotia Power and its Irish partner Open Hydro has received a $4-million shot in the arm from Sustainable Development Technology Canada.

The project cost to install an in-stream turbine on the bottom of the Bay of Fundy is expected to be $12-million.

This project will involve comprehensive environmental and oceanographic monitoring of a turbine placed in some of the strongest-known tidal currents in the world. (see map for places in the world that Open Hydro has identified as having the best tidal power potential - I marked in the Bay of Fundy).

The first Fundy turbine would produce one megawatt of electricity, enough to power 300 households. The project must still receive provincial environmental approval. The partners hope to have it operating by 2009 and test its operation in the following two years.

I'm continuing to follow this quite closely from my front row seat here on the Bay of Fundy, near the proposed tidal energy staging area - see sidebar for previous posts about tidal energy.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Bay of Fundy birth annoucement (of whales, that is)

The Bay of Fundy has become a bit of a nursery lately with the arrival of ten humpback mothers with their calves. Humpback whale calves are born in the Caribbean after a 12 month gestation. They drink about 50 gallons of milk from their mother, gaining several hundred pounds per week. They stay with their moms for about a year after they have been weaned at the Northern feeding grounds. Visit Brier Island Whales & Seabird Cruises blog to find out more.

This is a photo Foggy's tail fluke. Foggy had her first calf, Sparkler, in 2000 and her second, Motley, in 2003. Her 2007 calf will not be named until it makes its return to the Gulf of Maine after it leaves its mother.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

"Not Since Moses" run across the ocean floor

Just when I thought I'd heard everything along comes a new, wildly zany yet oddly spiritual event: the first annual Not Since Moses run across the Bay of Fundy's ocean floor.

Happening this Saturday, July 7, in Five Islands, Nova Scotia, the aptly named Not Since Moses is reminiscent of Moses' biblical parting of the Red Sea. For awhile at low tide the ocean floor linking the islands to the coastal village is fully exposed (see photo). This, with proper planning and guidance by a local, is enabling a fully organized 10 k run and a 5 k walk. Yikes - don't ever try this on your own!!

Owner of one of the islands, Dick Lemon, is the originator and organizer of the event. Lemon, from California, purchased Long Island in 2003 to build Five Islands Retreat, a “restorative place for writers, musicians, artists and other interesting people.”

I chatted with Dick this week about the run. He's convinced the Not Since Moses will become a world famous running event and, after hearing more about it, so am I!