Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Sneak peek at new Joggins Fossil Centre

Although the 'new' Joggins Fossil Centre opens to the public on May 17, I was delighted to receive an invitation to attend its opening ceremony last week. There is much buzz in our region about this very welcome addition to the Bay of Fundy 'product'. My first glimpse of the new centre certainly did not disappoint!! It is a beautifully designed experience both inside and out. Here are some highlights:

  • Local stones were layered on the exterior facade to replicate the site's adjacent fossil cliffs
  • The site will generate about 60% of its own power through wind turbines & solar, and has some nifty 'green' features like a sod roof & rain water capture.
  • The gallery exhibits are really interesting, with lots of interactive design elements like those in the photos as well as glass portholes in the floor, trackways to follow around the museum, interesting multi-media displays, etc.
A colleague who attended the opening caught me clambering out of the inside hollow of a tree (there's a cool multi-media presentation in there for kids!), and, examining the intro panels mounted on replicas of fossilized tree trunks!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Scenes from the ocean floor - 5th of 5

Here's my last scene in this 5-image series taken at Two Islands, near Parrsboro, Nova Scotia. The receding Fundy tide exposes lots of interesting aspects of the ocean floor: salty puddles, living tide pools, sculpted reefs, mussels, clams and globs of seaweed.

If you generally find yourself exploring shorelines with your head down, this is your kinda beach! I've noticed that kids delight in exploring the intertidal zone at low tide searching for toe-sized hermit crabs to follow, tiny white & blue shells to collect, teensy fish to watch and squeaky rockweed pods to pop.

Safety tip: be sure to check local tide times before walking out onto the ocean floor at low tide. Only explore the zone for a couple hours before the low tide time. Don't explore after the low tide time - the low tide time indicates when tide is turning and coming back in so scram!!

Tide times vary around the bay and change every day. A searchible chart of tide times is also available on the Bay of Fundy Tourism website but do double check with the locals when you arrive on the bay to be sure these time are accurate.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Scenes from the Ocean Floor - 4th in a series

Here's a pulled back shot of the island shown in #3 in this series. My yellow lab is actually walking along the water line but you can't even see her in the photo - it's that far away. True, it is a bit wet underfoot in most places at low tide on the Bay of Fundy. My footwear recommendation: skruffy running shoes, hiking boots, water sandals or crocs. Note that if white clothing comes in contact with Bay of Fundy mud it will stain...I like to think of it as a cheap souvenir!!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Scenes from the ocean floor - 3rd in a Series

Walking around on the ocean floor at low tide certainly makes for some odd photo opportunities. I actually have a theory that you don't really need to be a very good photographer to take amazing photos around the Bay of Fundy: it just seems like everywhere you look there's something neat to take a picture of....the photos sorta take themselves!

Take this image, for example. My view from the ocean floor gives this small island tip an oversized look by comparison to the shallow puddle of water (low tide) it's floating in. Odd but interesting to think it will be surrounded by waters 35-40 feet higher 6 hours from now at high tide when it will go back to looking like a 'real' island.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Scenes from the ocean floor - 2nd in series - video

While I was walking around on the ocean floor yesterday afternoon at low tide, I took this fun little video of the intertidal zone. I should probably use a tripod or something to keep the filming a bit more steady, but you can still get the idea of precisely how much ground is exposed at low tide at Two Islands.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Scenes from the ocean floor - 1st in a Series

No, I wasn't scuba diving today; merely walking on the vast ocean floor that's exposed at low tide leading out toward Two Islands, near Parrsboro, Nova Scotia.

Here in the Minas Basin region of the Bay of Fundy the inter-tidal zone (fancy name for the exposed ocean floor) stretches along the coast for miles and out from the coast (toward the centre of the Bay) for 2-3 miles too.

For example, in this image, the closer islands (on the right) are about 1.5 kilometres from where I took the photo and the small islands, along the horizon in the far distance (Five Islands) ,are about 20 km away. This is the tide at dead low, especially because of tonight's full moon: full moon tides bring both the highest and lowest tides of the month.

At high tide here all the rocks would be completely covered and, yes, I'd have very wet feet or perhaps be swimming above the spot where I took the photo.

Friday, April 18, 2008


Fiddleheads rate right up there among the weird things we like to eat around the Bay of Fundy. Fiddleheads are the unfurled fronds of young wild ferns that we harvest for eating every Spring. They are steamed or boiled but must be cooked (um, not that anyone would really find them appetizing raw, anyway!) before eating. They are only available anytime now 'til early May but just for a week or so before they fully spread out into the full fern plant.

Most folks eat them freshly cooked with a small amount of melted butter. They taste a lot like other super-green veggies - perhaps kale or broccoli-ish , but with a taste all their own. Once cooked, they can be chilled for use in salads, frozen for use later in the season or pickled. Delicious!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Bay of Fundy play reading in Texas

I've been blogging the Bay of Fundy for about a year & a half now and here's a random observation I'd like to share: of my U.S.A. readers, there are more from Texas than all but two other American states (only Maine & Massachusetts - our neighbouring states - rank higher). This causes me to ponder: are Texans somehow predisposed to be intrigued by the Bay of Fundy? Is the Bay of Fundy also studied in high school science texts there - the way it is in Europe & Russia? Maybe a whole bunch of former Bay of Fundy residents retired to Texas and are trying to keep in touch with the homeland?

Well here's a special announcement for my Texan friends in the blogosphere: I'm pleased to let you know about a Bay of Fundy presentation happening tomorrow night in your neighbourhood - well, if you live in Austin, that is. Playwright, Sherry Kramer, is presenting a reading of her newest work "The Bay of Fundy" at 7:30 pm at the James A. Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas, Avaya Auditorium, ACES building, 24th Street and Speedway. Admission is free.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Happy little shad fish

To celebrate this day (April 15 - the first day of fishing season), I thought I'd post about shad.

The appearance of shad in fresh food markets of the Bay of Fundy is a sure sign of spring. In fact, a traditional spring meal here could very well be shad and fiddleheads (young fern shoots). Although shad are bony and considered difficult to eat, if you've got the patience to properly prepare them the result (a really tasty fish) is worth it. In fact, its scientific name sapidissima means "most delicious". Shad are actually a member of the herring family.

Here around the Bay of Fundy the annual "shad run" is a dramatic event. Within the space of a few weeks shad by the thousands come up the Bay from the Atlantic ocean to spawn. Shad can arrive anytime now up 'til June, depending on weather & water temperatures (they prefer 8 to 12 C). In addition to being fished by hand they are also a favourite catch in our traditional fish weirs.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

High-low tide pics in mystery location

Here's another set of high - low tide photos to add to my collection. I ran across this set on answers.com. It's a typical pair but I'm baffled as to which of our many tidal harbours they present. The breakwaters of St Martins, Parrsboro, and Advocate Harbour are further from their wharves; wrong wharf length for Halls Harbour; doesn't really look like Harbourville, Blacks Harbour or St Andrews either...Maybe Margaretsville?

If any of my regular Fundyite readers would like to make a case for a particular harbour, please send a comment!! By the tinting of the photos and the all-wood lobster traps, I'm thinking these photos were taken quite a few years back. Groovy!

Friday, April 11, 2008

New children's book about Fundy dinosaurs & fossils

Tomorrow will be a very exciting day for a new Bay of Fundy children's book writer. Paul Burns of Riverview, New Brunswick, is launching his book: Owen and the Dinosaurs, based on his son's love of dinosaurs. Over the years, Paul and his son made frequent trips over the border to Joggins and Parrsboro, Nova Scotia, to search for fossils on the beach and discover dinosaurs at the museums.

Most of the storyline of the book is based on real events (except for the part where Owen meets a talking dinosaur, Butch!). The book explores themes of friendship and loyalty for children aged 7 to 9. It's available at various Fundy gift shops as well as on line.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Fundy tidal power workshops

In January, I blogged about potential tidal power demonstration sites on the Nova Scotia side of the Bay of Fundy. Now the New Brunswick Department of Energy is partnering with the Bay of Fundy Ecosystem Partnership (BoFEP) to conduct a series of public open houses about tidal energy in Fundy coastal communities. These sessions are part of the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of possible tidal power development in the Bay of Fundy.

Within the next week or so, these public forums are taking place in Alma, Moncton, Saint John, Grand Manan Island, Campobello Island, St George & Deer Island.

Background materials about tidal power will be available at these sessions and will be placed in local libraries and municipal offices. There's also lots of info & a session schedule on the BoFEP website.

With 100 billion tonnes of water moving through the Bay of Fundy with each tide, tidal power (assuming that its impacts on Fundy's ecosystem are few - which is, as yet, unknown) has the potential to be a big source of sustainable energy production in the future.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Green accolades for Fundy garden

It's great that so many of our Bay of Fundy residents, businesses, towns and cities participated in Earth Hour late last month but as Earth Day (April 22) approaches, I'll mention some locales where innovative initiatives toward a greener & more sustainable environment are already underway. For example: Kingsbrae Garden in the pretty Fundy town of St Andrews, New Brunswick.

Kingsbrae Garden is passionately committed to a healthy environment, by maintaining the magnificent public garden 99% chem-free, by offering workshops, and natural lawn and garden services in the St Andrews area. It was just awarded the Project EverGreen Canada National Stewardship Award, 'Because Green Matters', for its outstanding commitment to raising the profile and awareness of the benefits of green spaces in Canada.

Project EverGreen's mission is to raise the awareness of the environmental, economic and lifestyle benefits of landscapes and promote the significance of those who preserve and enhance green spaces at home, work and play. Kingsbrae Garden is all about healthy, sustainable green spaces, with over 50,000 perennials, shrubs and trees on 27 acres. And not only green, but yellow, red, purple, white, pink, red, orange and blue...

Thanks to Maureen at Kingsbrae Garden for sending along this photo of some Red Hat Society ladies enjoying a fine game of croquet in one of Kingsbrae's many green spaces.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Maple chicken recipe

At this time of year, when maple syrup is so abundant around the Bay of Fundy, I don't mind 'wasting' a bit on some extra recipes, such as this simple but tasty maple chicken...

Maple Chicken
2.5 lbs chicken pieces
1/2 c maple syrup
1/2 tsp lemon rind
1/2 c chopped almonds
2 tsp lemon juice

Remove skin from chicken pieces. Place in shallow pan. Mix remaining ingredients. Pour over chicken. Bake uncovered at 375 F for 45 minutes. Taste occasionally!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Fundy fossil takes a walk....

Here's a uniquely Bay of Fundy riddle: what's 300 million years old, weighs two tonnes, lived in a basement for 43 years and just made a 50-km trek across the New Brunswick - Nova Scotia border?

Answer: a two metre long fossil of the tracks of an arthropleura - a Paleozoic invertebrate that resembles a giant millipede.

This fossil was discovered by a Mount Allison University (Sackville, New Brunswick) professor in 1964 and has been housed there in a basement storeroom ever since. Yesterday morning it was transferred to its new home at the Joggins Fossil Centre across the border in Joggins, Nova Scotia.

The arthropleura may have had as many as 30 legs and left tiretread-style tracks that can still be seen fossilized in the actual Joggins fossil cliffs. The rediscovered fossil will be displayed in the lobby of the new interpretation centre - opening April 22.

(Photo of movers loading the fossil on to a truck - courtesy of Mount Allison University)

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Bay of Fundy Whirlpool - A School Study Topic?

I hear from visitors all the time that they first learned about the Bay of Fundy in school. Indeed, the Bay, and its incredible tides, is studied in science textbooks throughout North America, parts of Europe, and - as photographer & travel writer Igor Kravtchenko recently told me - Russia.

For example, I just came across Will Rhodes' travel blog - he's a teacher from Katy, Texas, who visited the Bay of Fundy late last summer to research a unit for his students.

Will's got an excellent selection of photos & videos from tidal bore rafting, his ocean floor drive over to Minister's Island, New Brunswick Museum, Joggins Fossil Cliffs, St Martins Sea Caves, and even this rare footage of the Old Sow Whirlpool - the largest whirlpool in the western hemisphere... here in the Bay of Fundy! Wow, with teachers like Will, no wonder so many people have the Bay of Fundy on their 'bucket list'!