Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The ghost of Hopewell Rocks?

Just after inviting folks to submit ideas for guest posts a few days ago, I received this note from an anonymous reader about the possibility of ghost roaming around - not in an old Fundy sea captain's house but - on the beach at Hopewell Rocks no less! Check this out:

Five years ago, I was visiting Hopewell Rocks and saw a ghost, or something. I was walking along the low tide beach and saw a man caught up in a tangle of maybe barbed wire or driftwood (?). There were lots of people around but it seemd that no one else could see it. I literally shook my head and rubbed my eyes but it was still there! It disappeared when I walked toward it. It was incredibly unsettling. Have you ever heard of anyone having a similar experience?

Now I can't say as I have heard about a resident ghost at The Rocks. If you have, please feel free to comment!!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Smile....Fundy's on camera!

There's probably no better way for us locals to really appreciate the Bay of Fundy than by hanging out with folks who are making their first visit here. In my job I'm often called upon to host visiting travel writers, photographers or videographers.

I still remember taking a group of travel writers down to our local fish weir - in particular, a writer from the New York Times who was nearly moved to tears upon witnessing this low-tech, historic "loaves n' fishes" way of capturing fish from Fundy's tides. In fact, it was such fascination with our lives here on Fundy that led me to think a blog about my ordinary could be your extraordinary. Perhaps that's the reason behind the wild growth of blogs on the internet.

Yesterday, I was thrilled to welcome to the Fundy shore my friend Steve Wright, with Brand Canada, and his merry duo of videographers, Matt & Brett. These boys were in the area filming some upcoming Fundy ads and we had great fun walking down on the ocean floor by the lighthouse for a couple hours before the tide came in behind us!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Happy blogday Bay of Fundy!

I'm celebrating a very exciting event on my blog today: my 400th post about the Bay of Fundy. When I started this blog two years, I was worried I'd run out of things to say about our beautiful bay...oh but no!! It's been great fun connecting both with Fundy visitors and networking in the blogosphere with Fundy residents throughout the Bay.

With a view ahead, I'd like to add a new feature to my blog: guest posts! I've be dabbling in these already with Fundy dogs and in the nature section with reports from two horticultural gardens in the region but I'd like to more formally invite you to send me a note and a photo. You can use the general blog categories for ideas.

I live in the upper Bay and, though I travel a fair bit around the whole bay, I'd love to hear more about life and times in the Fundy Isles/Passamaquoddy as well as Digby Neck & Islands in addition to your general observations from anywhere around the bay.

Email me: bayoffundy@gmail.com.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Nifty Bay of Fundy tide height map

Maps of our fabulous but somewhat complicated bay are really helpful to have. I've previously posted maps for our lobster season, the blueberry harvesting zones and to dispel myths about Fundy's location and the weather 'up' here!

Here's another map: this one from NOAA, the U.S.'s National Ocean & Atmospheric Administration. This map depicts the depth of the tide throughout the Bay...since the undersea floor of Fundy gets shallower as the tide moves further up the bay, the tides are force 'up' which is what creates the 46 to 49 ft (14 to 15 metre) tides in the two smaller bays of Fundy (top right of this photo). To put that in perspective, the Fundy tides are then 5x higher than the rest of the tides on the east coast of North America and the rest of the world!

NOAA does lots of cool ocean research on the east coast. You may recall my friend Carl, who works for NOAA, sending me some aerial Fundy photos when he flew up here to check on the progress of renos to one of his "hurricane hunter' airplanes.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Can you eat wild portulaca?

The Bay of Fundy offers up a plethora of strange edibles: dulse, goosetongue greens, periwinkles, etc. Sometimes these are things that normal people walk by a zillion times at the beach and just never consider eating. I'm a big fan of 'eating local' so I'm often wondering if there are other seaside culinary delights to invite to the plate.

Take this wild portulaca in my photos, for example. It's a typical sight in our salt marsh fringes. About 10 years ago, I remember taking an interpretive walk with a Mi'kmaw 'medicine woman' (as she called herself) who said just about everything colourful on the beach was edible!

So I'm wondering if any of my readers know: a) the proper name for the plant I'm calling wild portulaca, b) if it is edible, and, if so in what format (steamed?), and c) when best to harvest: these two photos are summer (green) and fall (red). Please feel free to let me know via the comment option. Thanks!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Fundy's glorious fall leaves

Truly, there is no better place in eastern Canada to see the autumn leaves than around the shores of the Bay of Fundy. The Bay is fringed by mixed hard and softwood forest which makes for some striking colour combinations: the brilliant yellow, orange and reds of maples and birches interspersed with dark spruce greens.

And... the added bonus of living in maple/blueberry country is blueberry bushes blasting forth with crimson leaves at this time of year. Took this photo this morning!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Fundy for 7 Wonders Quest Continues

This is so adorable...after a great article appeared in the Sunday Chronicle Herald (about our quest to have the Bay of Fundy become a "New7Wonder of Nature") I received a phonecall during turkey dinner from a 90-year old lady in Halifax wondering what she could do to make Fundy win!! She doesn't have internet so she can't vote but she really lifted my spirits and made me think that Fundy can absolutely win the first round of this contest. There is so much support out there!

The most pressing milestone is Dec. 31, 2008, when ONE Canadian site (from 5 that made the short list) will be selected to continue on to the next round of this international contest). If you haven't already voted, please VOTE FUNDY soon!

Oh yes, the contest (and Fundy!) was also mentioned by CTV's Travel Expert, Loren Christie, on a recent episode of Canada AM.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Ocean speed limit set to protect whales

Here's a bit of good news for Right whales that's been a long time coming: on the United States' Atlantic coast this week, a speed limit of 11 knots has been set for ships 65 feet or longer that travel within 23 miles of major ports, as well as in areas where the North Atlantic Right whale breeds, feeds and migrates.

This is of particular interest to the Bay of Fundy because Right whales (migrating to their summer feeding here from the U.S. coasts of Georgia & North Carolina) swim by all those major U.S. ports. Northern Right whales are an endangered species (only 300 to 400 remain) and their most serious threat is ship strikes, which kill 1 to 2 whales per year.

For more info, check out the group that spearheaded this initiative, the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration - NOAA's website.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Squares

One of my favourite treats to offer returning relatives on Thanksgiving weekend is pumpkin choc chip squares: proof that anything takes better when chocolate is involved!

Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Squares
2 1/4 c. white flour
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking sode
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
4 beaten eggs
1/2 c white sugar
1 c brown sugar
1/2 c butter
2 c. pure cooked pumpkin (canned OK)
1 c. mini chocolate chips

Sift first 5 ingredients together in one bowl. Mix wet ingredients in another bowl. Combine. Fold in choc chips. Cook in a 9 x 13 pan, 325 degrees F, for about 45 minutes.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The mysterious Isle Haute

There's a mysterious island out in the middle of the upper Bay of Fundy that is the subject of some curiosity around here. Isle Haute is easily seen off the coast of Advocate Harbour & Morden on the Nova Scotia side of the bay, and also from Alma on the New Brunswick side.

Here are a few intriguing facts/rumours/folklore I've heard about Isle Haute:

  1. there is buried treasure out there, dating from the 1700s. Check out an interesting article published in a local newspaper about this last month.
  2. the island is topped by a huge fresh water lake - not true according to an Acadia Univ. biologist I recently discussed this with!
  3. it was named by Samuel de Champlain (the first European adventurer - from France - who claimed to discover and settle the area in 1604). This makes sense: Isle meaning "island" in French, Haute meaning 'high'...tho' we locals tend say: "Isla Haute" for some reason...its basalt cliffs are about 320 ft high!
  4. wild potatoes have been growing there for several hundred years (and were noted by the area's first peoples: the Mi'kmaq).
  5. there are no wild animals out on the island any larger than a mouse.
  6. the island was using as a training site by the Canadian airforce during the 2nd world war.
  7. once used as a picnic location by many Fundy families, the island is now mostly just visited by researchers studying the plant life, birds, etc.
I don't have a boat that can get me safely into the one safe access point on the island (did I mention all the shipwrecks!) so I must share a couple photos I took recently from the mainland side. If any readers know of other myths about Isle Haute or, if you have photos to share from the island itself, please feel free to email me: bayoffundy@gmail.com.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Tumbled beach at French Cross

As you can imagine, the 100 billion tonnes of sea water that moves in and out of the Bay of Fundy impacts our beaches in a variety of ways. Here's an interesting example of how Fundy's waves grab craigy pillars of basalt off the tall cliffs then tumbled them on the beach below. The result?... smooth, giant pebbles such as these at French Cross in Morden, Nova Scotia.

Check out the beachscapes tab here on my blog for more images of beaches like sculpted sandstone, sandy, mud flats, and reefed beaches.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Fundy seabird may hold key to aging & cancer

Here's a random bit of Bay of Fundy science news: one of our sea birds, the storm-petrel, may hold the key to why some animals live longer, healthier lives while others survive only a few years

You don't need to be a scientist to observe that there is usually a relationship between body size and life span: elephants live longer humans, humans live longer than mice, etc. So storm-petrels (about the size of a robin) shouldn’t live long, but they actually live about 40 years.

Scientist Mark Haussmann, an assistant professor of biology at Bucknell University (Pensylvania, U.S.A.), has been researching Leach's storm-petrels at the Bay of Fundy's Kent Island. His studies show that storm-petrels have certain DNA characteristics – specifically lengths of the protective telomeres at the tips of DNA – that are associated with species that live longer lives and possibly with how susceptible they are to cancer-causing tumors. His work may have far-reaching implications with our understanding of the factors contributing to aging and cancer growth.

By the way, Kent Island, New Brunswick, was purchased as a sanctuary to save the dwindling eider duck population and a scientific research centre was later established by Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. Lots of cool stuff going on at the biological field station at Kent Island (5.4 miles/9 km south of Grand Manan Island).

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Look what the tide dragged in...

We caught the tail end of hurricane a couple days ago here in the Bay of Fundy. These storms have several interesting effects on our bay:
- they're usually preceded with a few days of warm, tropical winds
- they often cause 'storm surges' (higher tides) if they happen to arrive near the high tide time
- their wild winds whip up 'activity' on our beaches. This could mean the smoothing of a previously rocky beach (or vice versa) or the deposit of something interesting, such as star fish, ice pebbles or even a catch of regular fish.

On my daily dog walk just after this storm I spied apples entangled in a mile-long stretch of wrack line (the row of flotsam left when the tide turns to go back out). Presumably the hurricane swept apples off some distant trees (there are no apple trees anywhere near this beach) then brought them in with the heavy tides.

Here's a photo of Belle, my yellow lab, looking as puzzled as I was with this unique find!