Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Glacial delta exposed!

Now that the pretty leaves have dropped and the blueberry fields have turned from crimson to brown it's the perfect time to look more closely at subtleties of the Bay of Fundy world around us. My home community of Parrsboro, for example, is located on a huge glacial outwash delta that has been carved into four distinct terrace levels. Here's a photo borrowed from the Nova Scotia Dept of Natural Resources. Can you see one of the terraced ridges snaking down the middle? (I've helped you out with the white line on the 2nd pic) Fortunately for us, and the many other post-glacier areas of the Bay of Fundy, these seemingly barren fields turn out to be perfect terrain for wild blueberries. Who knew?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Bald eagle sighting

I suspect you've noticed by now that I'm not much of a birder (yet!) but occasionally something catches my eye, such as these two Bald Eagles. A telephoto lens came in handy for capturing the pair who appeared to be enjoying their panoramic view of the tidal harbour. Did you know that Bald Eagles mate for life and live up to 25 years? If you're interested in taking a look at the rest of Bay of Fundy birding list, try the Grand Manan Whale Research Centre website.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

You'd be happy too...

People sometimes ask me why I'd want to live 'way out here' on the Bay of Fundy. It's mornings like this, just on my regular dog walk, with views like this that form my answer. Sure it's just another tidal harbour with the first inklings of ice floating in gently on the incoming tide but wouldn't you be happy too if you saw this view...?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

How tiny mud shrimp save Bay of Fundy mud flats

With the amount of water moving in and out of the Bay of Fundy with our tides several times a day, you may well wonder why mud doesn't get constantly sucked out the of Bay. Our small mud shrimp, Corophium voluntator, plays a role here too. I'm certainly no mud scientist but let me try to explain:

-their burrows compact mud flat sediment and actually cement together the particles lining the walls. This has the effect of creating a forest of erosion-resistant chimneys in the mud (see image).
- slightly more indirectly...shorebirds eat copious amounts of shrimp who feed on microscopic diatoms. Diatoms secrete a glue-like substance that makes sediment particles stick together and reduces their likelihood of being swept away by moving water. So by being 'food' for shorebirds, mud shrimp numbers are periodically reduced enabling the diatoms to flourish and strengthen the mud.
- mud shrimp also defend their mudflat habitat from invasion by salt marshes. By eating diatoms they keep the mud surface too unstable for colonizing plants to establish themselves. Constant burrowing and feeding by mud shrimp also buries the seeds of the invaders preventing them from germinating, or uprooting any that do.
Who knew?!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Meet...Corophium volutator

Here's a little friend to the Bay of Fundy who hardly ever gets any mention on Bay of Fundy websites or blogs: corophium volutator.

Corophium volutator (known locally as mud shrimp) are actually not shrimp but a member of a suborder of crustaceans known as amphipods. These fine fellows inhabit the upper layers of mud in the Bay of Fundy and play a vital role in this complex ecosystem.

Corophium keeps a very low profile: so low in fact that until a couple of decades ago Fundy 's mudflats (fully exposed at low tide) were considered lifeless wastelands of little ecological interest. But, as sandpipers have known for ages and scientists have recently learned, if you probe beneath the surface, the mud is home to unbelievably large numbers of these tiny amphipods.

They can occur in huge quantities: up to 40,000 per square metre have been observed. In the Bay of Fundy they are a critically important part of the food chain for migratory birds...more on that in subsequent posts.

For the etymologists in the familly: volutator comes from the Latin volutare, meaning "to wallow". Seems apt for these mud loving creatures!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Fundy Biosphere Reserve news

Now that the Upper Bay of Fundy is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, plans are moving ahead for scientific and educational program development. New Brunswick's Environmental Trust Fund (ETF) is providing $30,000 to get these programs going. This is a great use of our bottle deposit! (Revenue for the ETF comes from about half of the environmental fee that is paid when people buy redeemable beverage containers in New Brunswick.)

I think we are no where near having as much public programming about the Bay of Fundy we should have. The Bay is an amazing place but, due to its diversity, sometimes a bit challenging for both residents and visitors to fully appreciate. Biosphere reserves are often defined as 'living laboratories' where research, monitoring, public education, capacity building and local community involvement contribute to promote sustainable development. This can only improve the Bay experience!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Bay of Fundy dulse soup

I seem to have picked up the first cold of the season this week so dug out my vegetarian version of chicken noodle soup....Dulse Soup. I'm not sure from where this recipe originates - I might have said Scotland or Ireland (where irish moss and other dulse type seaweed is use for cooking as are oats) but the soy sauce negates that theory. Maybe it a Scot's version of miso?


1 ounce dry dulse
5 cups water
1 tsp veg oil
1 med. onion, sliced thinly
1/2 rolled oats
2 Tbsp soy sauce

Rinse dulse briefly under cold water then immerse in fully in bowl of water. Place soup pot on med heat, add oil to heat, add onions. Cook a few minutes until strong onion smell fades. Add oats and stir a minute or so. Add dulse and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer with lid half off for 35 minutes. Remove from heat. Add soy sauce. Makes enough for 4 servings.

It really is good .... honest! For other posts about dulse, visit Drying Dulse on the Beach, Many Forms of Dulse, Got Dulse?, Do We Really Eat Seaweed?

Monday, November 05, 2007

After the storm

Post-tropical storm Noel rolled up the Bay of Fundy overnight on Saturday and, yes, did knock out power for several hours. Luckily the tide was low through the night so no serious flooding occurred. On Sunday morning I couldn't resist going down to the beach to see the heavy tides. Here's a video of the heavy surf at East Bay. A couple family members (including my 75 year old father!) offered to lean into the wind to 'demonstrate' how strongly the wind still blew. Don't worry they weren't as close to the waves as they look - no Bay of Fundyites were harmed during the making of this video!~

P.S. To see this same beach at low calm tide this summer, visit my previous fish weir blog post.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Calm before the storm

Thought I'd better get a blog post in today - the tail end of a hurricane is on its way up the Atlantic coast heading straight for the Bay of Fundy. Aye, 'twil be a fine nor'easter but hopefully nothing like the Saxby Gale!

We don't get nearly as many hurricanes on the east coast of Canada as they do in the southern USA but we can usually count on a couple of autumn gales as well a a few really good winter snow storms. I went down to the Bay this morning at high tide and the seas were already starting to get heavy.

This time it sounds like we'll be spared significant coastal flooding from Hurricane Noel because the tide will be out (low tide is at 2:30 am) when worst of the storm passes through late tonight. Remember: at low tide the water is over 1 km off the coast in the upper part of the Bay so this makes a big difference during a nasty storm!! Here's a link to the Atlantic Hurricane office (Environment Canada) website if you'd like to see the forecast! I'll blog the news after the power comes back on....

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Coastal puzzle piece

I learned many years ago never to venture out around the Bay without my camera. I never know when I'm going to encounter an interesting sight such as this puzzle piece shaped sandbar in the village of Black Rock, south west of Parrsboro, Nova Scotia. Enough maple leaves had fallen off the cliffside trees along the main road high above this bar that I was able to snap this rare 'aerial' shot.