Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Bay of Fundy counting on tide of support in 7 wonders contest

Yahoo Canada News - Tue Dec 30, 8:50 AM

NEW BRUNSWICK (CBC) - A Maritime treasure is up against Mount Everest and the Grand Canyon to become one of the new seven natural wonders of the world. But before competing with those world favourites, the Bay of Fundy must beat out stiff competition from various Canadian candidates in an online contest to determine a new list of the world's greatest natural attractions.

The world's highest tides are up against Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland and Labrador, which currently tops the Canadian nominees in voting, and Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta, which is trailing the Bay of Fundy. The top five Canadian candidates also include Long Point Sand Spit in Ontario and Perc? Rock in Quebec's Gasp? region.

Supporters of the Bay of Fundy, such as Terri McCulloch, are urging people to cast their last-minute votes before Wednesday's deadline. She's spearheading the official supporting committee to make the bay one of the seven natural wonders of the world in the international contest.

"This is kind of the big times, like the Olympics for popularity contests when it comes to natural attractions," McCulloch said.

As the only Maritime attraction in the contest, McColloch said support has been coming in from Cape Breton to Prince Edward Island. McCulloch said the Bay of Fundy has more than just the highest tides in the world.

There are also fossils, including the smallest dinosaur bones, along with whales, sandpipers and the potential for tidal power.

McCulloch, who lives in Parrsboro, N.S., said the competition has given her a better feel for the region. Each country gets to nominate one natural attraction. Anybody can vote until the midnight Dec. 31 deadline.

McCulloch said she'll find out in early January whether the bay makes it to the next round.

The online contest is being led by the New7Wonders Foundation. According to its website, the foundation was started in 2001 by Bernard Weber, a Swiss-born Canadian filmmaker and adventurer, to create greater cultural diversity for the planet and protect the world's natural heritage.

This is the second worldwide vote to honour the new seven wonders of the world. In 2007, more than 100 million votes selected the wonders listed below:

- The Great Wall of China.

- Petra in Jordan.

- Chichun Itzu in Mexico.

- The Statue of Christ Redeemer in Brazil.

- The Colosseum in Italy.

- Machu Picchu in Peru.

- The Taj Mahal in India.

Today (Dec 31) Your Last Chance to Vote Fundy as One of 7 Natural Wonders

The Bay of Fundy is now competing in a worldwide contest to declare the New7 Wonders of Nature.

The Bay of Fundy is one of only 5 Canadian sites (& only Maritime site) selected to participate in this global contest.

Vote online at before December 31, when only one Canadian site is selected to represent our country during the 2009 phase of the contest. We want to be in the #1 spot by Dec 31, when only one site will go on to represent Canada in the 2009 phase of the contest.

If you need some reasons, here’s Fundy’s awesome case for becoming a New7Wonder of Nature:

- home to the highest tides in the world
- world renown geology and palaeontology
- summer feeding area for endangered North Atlantic Right whales
- critical feeding ground for 90+% of world’s semi-palmated sandpipers
- best site in the world for tidal power potential
- UNESCO has recently recognized upper Bay of Fundy as a Biosphere Reserve and Joggins Fossil Cliffs as a World Heritage Site

Currently the New7Wonders of Nature contest has over 400 worldwide sites participating and expects 1 billion online votes by the contest’s conclusion. It’s kind of like the Olympics for nature destinations!!

Canada AM is already planning to film in the winning region... That should be Fundy!!

Remember: you can vote with as many email addresses as you own. Please, if you haven’t already voted, go to our campaign domain address or use the links on our regular web page (see below).

If you have any questions, contact Bay of Fundy Tourism manager, Terri McCulloch 902-254-2772 or or visit:

Friday, December 26, 2008

Fundy Bird of The Week - Hawk Owl in Fredericton

This week we've chosen the Northern Hawk Owl that NatureNB members have been reporting from the Fredericton area. It could have been the Snowy Owls that are being reported here and there throughout the area or the Bohemian Waxwings, but this is a favourite of mine. I think Fenwick Landsdown did a great portrait many years ago.

Wikilpedia has the following:

The Northern Hawk Owl (Surnia ulula) is a medium sized owl. The term "hawk" refers to its falcon-like wing shape and long tail. It is the only living species in the genus Surnia. The species is sometimes called simply the Hawk Owl; however, many species of owls in the Ninox genus are also called hawk owls.

This bird is 35-43 cm long with a 69-82 cm wingspan. It has a rounded head with yellow eyes, dark brown upperparts and barred underparts and tail. The song is a bubbling lulululu. More ...

Thanks to Wikipedia for the photo.

Newest Bay of Fundy LNG Proposal - Comments to FERC is publishing the following links to submissions to FERC as of December 26th, 2008.

Comment of Mary Barnett in Docket(s)/Project(s) PF08-24-000
Submission Date: 12/7/2008
Comment of Roosevelt Campobello International Park Commission under PF08-24. This comment corrects an error on page 2 of the original comment filed Dec. 4, 2008 and replaces the words "Downeast LNG's" with the words "Calais LNG's".
Comment on Filing: St Croix Valley Chamber of Commerce submits comments re Calais LNG under PF08-24.
Government Agency Submittal: Maine Department of Conservation submits a list that identifies (rare and exemplary botanical) features with potential to occur in the area of the Calais LNG Project under PF08-24.
Comment of Joyce Morrell in Docket(s)/Project(s) PF08-24-000
Submission Date: 12/8/2008
Comment of Art A. MacKay in Docket(s)/Project(s) PF08-24-000
Submission Date: 12/9/2008
Comment of Town of Baileyville under PF08-24.
Comment of Douglas B Bartlett in Docket(s)/Project(s) PF08-24-000
Submission Date: 12/13/2008
Comments of Joyce E. Morrell and Janice R. Meiners concerning Calais LNG terminals under PF08-24.
Transcript of the 12/04/08 Public Hearing held at Washington County Community College in Calais, Maine under PF08-24.
General Correspondence Calais LNG Project Company LLC's Monthly Pre-Filing Status Report No. 4 for the period of October 31, 2008 through December 05, 2008 under PF08-24.
Comments of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under PF08-24-000.
Comment of St. Croix Estuary Project Inc. under PF08-24.
Comment letter from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on NOI to prepare EIS under PF08-24.
Comment of Art A. MacKay in Docket(s)/Project(s) PF08-24-000
Submission Date: 12/18/2008
Comments of SPB Canada regarding the LNG terminal proposed by Calais LNG under PF08-24.
Comment of Douglas B Bartlett in Docket(s)/Project(s) PF08-24-000
Submission Date: 12/20/2008
Comment of Ronald C Remick, JR under PF08-24-000.
Comment of Herm Gadway under PF08-24-000.
Comments of Sherly L King.
Comments of BAYSIDE PORT CORPORATION under PF08-24-000.
Comment of madonna mae soctomah in Docket(s)/Project(s) PF08-24-000
Submission Date: 12/22/2008
Comment of EPA Region 1 under PF08-24.
Comments of Williams R. Bridgeo's re Calais NLG project under PF08-24.
Comments of Mac Greene, Captain of Campobello Whale Rescue Team concerning marine mammals at risk in Head Harbour area submitted for Mac Greene by Joyce E Morrell under PF08-24.
Comment of Donald Soctomah in Docket(s)/Project(s) PF08-24-000
Submission Date: 12/21/2008
Comment of Conservation Law Foundation under PF08-24.
Comment of NOAA Fisheries, Northeast Region under PF08-24.
Comment of Downeast LNG, Inc. under PF08-24.
Save Passamaquoddy Bay Scoping Comments re Calais LNG under PF08-24-000
Additional Comments of SavePassamaquoddyBay in PF08-24.
Comment of National Park Service under PF08-24.
Comment of St. Croix International Waterway Commission under PF08-24.
Comment of laird higgison in Docket(s)/Project(s) PF08-24-000
Submission Date: 12/23/2008
Comments of Bernard J Lukco et al re Calais LNG Project under PF08-24.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Fundy Tides - One Day Left to Comment on Calais LNG

The proposed Calais LNG scoping period with FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) ends tomorrow. This development threatens the environmental integrity of Passamaquoddy Bay, the most productive site for its size in one of Canada's Seven Natural Wonders, the Bay of Fundy. You can register with FERC and make your views known at This initial decision period ends tomorrow, Monday, December 22, 2009.

Please send your comment today, and help us save our vital ecosystem by stopping the industrialization of Quoddy.

Original posted at

Friday, December 19, 2008

Fundy Bird of the Week - Painted Bunting at Grand Manan

Painted Bunting (
If you follow the Nature NB listserv postings, you too will be fascinated by the strange and wonderful avian creatures that frequent the Bay of Fundy and its shores. So, we have decided to pick a "bird of the week" from the various postings so that everyone will enjoy these beautiful creatures.

This week it's a male Painted Bunting reported by Laurie Murison at North Head Grand Manan. Beautiful.

Bay of Fundy Nature Park being squeezed by LNG Terminal and Quarry Developments.

The Ganong Nature and Marine Park is the culmination of many years of work by many people and the fulfillment of Whidden Ganong's dream to have his 350 acre country property turned into a nature park. Owned and operated by the St. Croix Estuary Project Inc.(SCEP) there are now fears that years of effort and two million in investment may be negatively impacted by continued pressure from the Bayside Quarry expansion and the proposed Calais LNG development directly across from the Todd's Point site.

A letter of concern has been sent to FERC regarding the Calais LNG proposal at Red Beach and a similar letter is being drafted to submit to the Province of New Brunswick relative to the Bayside Quarry expansion proposal.

The FERC letter can be read at:

What's the Rush? Dump the Cat? Opinion
Item - Bleak future for The Cat
The Working Waterfront)

Last month, The Cat made her last trips from Maine to Nova Scotia before packing it up for the season. There's plenty of reason to fear the high-speed catamaran won't be back next year.

Our region's long-haul ferries had a brutal season. Battered by sky-high fuel prices and a downturn in U.S. travel to Canada, the private-sector car ferries that bridge the Gulf of Maine and Bay of Fundy are on government life support, while prices have soared on the government-run services that connect Newfoundland to the rest of the continent. More at:

The Way I See It

When I was a wee youngster it seems to me I vaguely remember something about being constantly cautioned that "moderation in all things" was the way to go. I guess no one out there has heard about this or, perhaps like me, it was scoffed at or ignored. Well, looks like another fancy development might crumble this year. The sad thing is that proven, long-term solutions are "tarred with the same brush" and may collapse as well.

It's a short century since we moved from "environmentally friendly"and "sustainable" sail as a method of shipping our goods to huge, fuel guzzling ships that frantically move us and our precious goods back and forth across the globe. I hear we even ship our fish to China so that they can process them (more cheaply) and sell them back to us ... all the while consuming precious, limited fuel. The Cat is a high speed transportation system that zooms between Maine and Yarmouth consuming about 1,300 gallons of fuel per hour. Well, in the current economic climate the users are not coming and the cost of fuel has been and will continue to be, a serious limiting factor; not to mention it is a diminishing resource that some folks estimate will be in limited supply within 25 years.

Unfortunately, traditional ferries are suffering during this crisis as well, the result of big-time government divestiture. So now we see privately owned highways, railway, generating stations, ferries, airlines, and the list goes on. Encouraged by their friends in business, it seems that governments on all levels have sold off our essential public utilities and services, apparently to profit private companies; many of which seem to be constantly in trouble. Well smart folks in charge, your predecessors were wise enough to realize that some services SHOULD be publicly owned and operated. They knew this because private land owners once set up their own toll fences where they charged travellers for passing over their lands and essential transportation was subject to the whims of business. So they all worked hard to protect their constituents and succeeded in placing essential services under public control or regulation. Today we are selling this all when we should be controlling essential services for the people of Canada. More particularly, we desperately need to build business expertise in government, examine alternate "sustainable" strategies for the future, and get on with it before we totally consume this planet in our headlong rush to consume!

Let the Cat go. Check out assisted sail for our short-sea shipping needs and let's all slow down a bit. There's no need to rush to oblivion!

Photo from More information about the Cat at:

Thursday, December 18, 2008

SPB Canada Speaks Out about LNG Threat

LNG Tanker compared to large freighter currently
using Passamaquoddy Bay

Save Passamaquoddy Bay Canada (SPB-C) bills itself as the organization that "... was formed to inform Canadians of the LNG proposals for Passamaquoddy Bay – St. Croix Estuary, to provide a voice for Canadians who oppose these proposals, and to ensure that voice is exercised in appropriate fora." SPB-C was a rocky spin off of the original community organization Save Passamaquoddy Bay-USA which, together with its Passamaquoddy counterpart Nulankeyutomonen Nkihtahkomikumon ("We Take Care of Our Land") continues to do the heavy lifting and is actively engaged in the front-line battle against LNG along the Maine shore of Passamaquoddy Bay.

Unfortunately, at least 2 individual environmentalists who are perceived by many as representing a radical fringe position, were seen to be representing SPB-C at the Calais LNG scoping session last week. According to newspaper articles, they were accorded a less than friendly welcome by those in attendance; a further crumbling of the once co-operative international community that once circled the Bay.

While LNG proponents have been less than charitable in the past, SPB-C needs to broaden its community base if it ever wishes to cast off its image as a bunch of radicals that represent their own best interests not that of the community they purport to represent.

That said, SPB-C has certainly put together an impressive array of documents and submitted them to FERC. While I haven't had the time to review all of them, those that I checked appear to be well constructed and thoughtful expressions of concern relative to the Calais LNG proposal. Check the links below for the full list of submissions.

There's always room for your comments here. So let's hear them.


LNG FERC scoping letter - Calais 2008.DOC
Cultural Impacts of LNG in Bay.DOC
Ecological issues.PDF
Fisheries Issues.DOC
LNG impacts on lifestyle - Susan Lambert.PDF
Passamaquoddy Nation.DOC
Safety and Security paper - Jan Meiners.DOC
Tourism Impacts.DOC

Composite photo created by Art MacKay. Original freighter photo from Bangor Daily News, LNG tanker from online source.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Will Saint John Continue to Turn its Back on its Heritage ... and its Old Friends?

News Item, Telegraph Journal - Wildlife Officials of cash-strapped facility say it may be in jeopardy without stable support - Common council wants surrounding municipalities to help fund the financially strapped Cherry Brook Zoo .. more ...

The Cherry Brook Zoo's financial woes are back in the news and I continue to wonder if the "movers-and-shakers" in Saint John really understand that in their excitement to create THEIR vision of the future, they are turning their back on the colourful history and heritage of a city that is one of the important foundations of our culture in Southwestern New Brunswick.

Saint John is no longer the "Loyalist City", the Reversing Falls are about to spiral down in a "Vortex" and the "Loyalist Man" replacement looks more like "Clip Art Man" with a serious back problem. And with the old hospital gone, the skyline has gone from interesting and dynamic to condo heaven.

I remember when the Hungarian refugees arrived in Saint John many, many years ago. It was winter and the city looked dismal. I suspect that many tears flowed as the arrivals questioned their choice of this bleak and dismal land. The City is changing, that is for certain and in may ways that is a good thing as the old city becomes alive again. The harbour-front trail system is spectacular, the condos are well designed and attractive, the new plantings along Route 1 are beautiful, and future plans are encouraging. But turning your backs on your history, heritage, and old friends is not!

The Cherry Brook Zoo is an important component of Saint John and people from other areas as well. We come, we pay our admission, and some of us donate. But the City of Saint John is ultimately responsible. To suggest that somehow the poor of the city will suffer if the paltry $175,000 annual need is provided to the Zoo is a cheap shot of the lowest order.

Get it together Saint John! If you think that you are building a modern, dynamic city then realize that you have to take care of the entire fabric not just the gaudy and slippery silks.

Art MacKay

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Bay of Fundy Hawk Watch - Quoddy

Todd Watts posts information on hawk migration at Greenlaws Mountain near St. Andrews. This shows up regularly on the Nature NB Listserv. We think that it is worth following and will be posting his observations and others that some along here, as comments.

If you know of other hawk areas around the Bay, please let us know and we will post your information as well. If you like birds and nature, consider the Nature NB listserv as a source of information. Some of the best birders in the area contribute and it will help you find local clubs and groups.


New Bay of Fundy Hawk Heaven for Birders

I've long tried to convince local tourism operators that Chamcook and Greenlaw Mountains near St. Andrews were great locations to attract serious birders. Didn't work ... mostly they glazed over, apparently not fully realizing that birders are passionate, travellers of the kind that support sustainable tourism.

Now, along comes Todd Watts, an artist and avid birder who actually goes there and records what's happening in a very convincing way. Presto, we have a "new" important site; maybe on the same level as Brier Island where the fall hawk migration is world renowned. Add this to our natural beauty, the whales, seals, and other spectacular bird locations around the Bay and we are building "critical mass" as they say ... drawing attention to the importance of the Quoddy "eco-economy" a vibrant natural economy based on our natural resources, not heavy industrial development.

Thanks to Todd for bringing this to our attention. I'll try to post new information here as it becomes available.

You owe it to yourself to visit Todd's website for more fabulous folk carvings like the one I borrowed for this article. Thanks Todd.

Art MacKay

Friday, November 7, 2008

Fishermen Concerned about Tidal Power

Energy Only tests will reveal if power generation and fishing industry compatible, expert says

Studies are needed to test how much energy the water of the Bay of Fundy can produce, and at what cost, says a tidal power expert.

Click to Enlarge
Kate LeBlanc/Telegraph-Journal
‘You don’t know to what extent (the fish will be affected) until you can have a good model ... of what the disturbed (water) flow might look like,’ says George Hagerman of the Virginia Tech Advanced Research Institute. ‘Those are studies that should be undertaken.’
But members of the fisheries industry say the impact the in-stream turbines could have on their livelihood needs to be studied as well.
George Hagerman, senior research associate at Virginia Tech's Advanced Research Institute says not only does tidal power address the environmental issues of other methods of generating power but it is also more predictable.
"The advantage of any renewable resource compared to a fossil fuel resource is you're not subject to price volatility," he says.
Hagerman was brought in to Saint John by the Department of Energy to provide an overview of the tidal energy industry at an info session for Bay of Fundy Stakeholders, who were also given a forum to air concerns.
Because of the consistency of tidal power, energy companies can "schedule their other generation sources to match what they know will be coming out of the tidal power plants," Hagerman says. "They'll know for weeks in advance what the tidal power plant will put out."
Hagerman is waiting on studies to see how the cost of tidal power generation in New Brunswick would stack up against coal and fossil fuels.
"We know for example in Minus Passage (Nova Scotia), we've done a desktop study that suggests you can be competitive," he says.
But cost effectiveness isn't the only concern for tidal power in New Brunswick.
Maria Recchia, executive director of the Fundy North Fishermen's Association, which represents inshore fishermen from St. Martins to the Maine border, is worried about potential turbines scaring off the fish responsible for her members' livelihood.
"Herring are very sensitive to noise and lights and movement," she says.
Hagerman understands that concern.
"You don't know to what extent (the fish will be affected) until you can have a good model ... of what the disturbed (water) flow might look like," says Hagerman. "Those are studies that should be undertaken."
He says it may be a year or two before such study results could be ready.
Recchia wants the fishing community to be involved in the research from the beginning.
"I think we need to not just look at areas where you can make the most money with tidal power, but look at areas where ecologically it would be the most benign and economically as far as the other industries operating in the area," she said.
She is concerned a potential tidal power industry in the Bay of Fundy would simply be pushing out the fishing industry which she says is doing quite well there.
"We need to be able to find a way to allow those (industries) to functions and you can add on tidal power, as opposed to tidal power instead of."
Hagerman says all studies will be done on computers to simulate the effects of the disturbance instead of creating a real one. A turbine will eventually have to be put in the water and new information could be learnt from that process, but he is confident they'll have addressed most of the issues by that time.
"We'll be able to get a lot of good information from what's out there to physically validate what these models are predicting," says Hagerman, siting turbines in Nova Scotia and New York's East River.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Bay of Fundy Treasure - Ganong Nature Park Needs You Today!

The Ganong Park Legacy Fund
Honouring the memory of Whidden and Eleanor Ganong
by maintaining the Ganong Nature Park and providing free access to the Park grounds.

Donate online at or contact us at the address below.

It's sad but true.
It costs money to operate a park!


It was candy maker Whidden Ganong's wish that someone would take this magnificent 350 acre historic Todd's Point and make it available to the public as a "nature park". Well, we stood up to the plate and took it on when others had failed. With the help of a host of donors and volunteers, our staff managed to raise the $350,000 needed to buy the property from Whidden's Estate after he bequeathed it to us in his will.

As we had promised, we sought and received funding to prepare a development plan which was presented to the public and which became our blueprint for the future. Ultimately, this study became the foundation of a 1.3 million dollar ACOA grant matched by our investment of an additional $700,000 dollars to round out a 2 million dollar investment in the Park and its beautiful interpretive centre, the Quoddy Learning Centre. New trails, grooming, interpretive nodes, signage and renovations to the Ganong cottage turned a once overrun and decaying property into an important regional asset that can be enjoyed by everyone.

Driven by insurance concerns, SCEP was required to close the park during construction, resulting in a flood of local criticism about the closure and on reopening, additional complaints were made in public about the need for fees to cover weddings, meeting, reunions, and other special events at the Quoddy Learning Centre and adjacent park grounds. Well, it takes money to run a park and we must, like all other venues charge for our services since our discretionary funds are usually nonexistant. It is not possible for us to subsidize private events.

Nevertheless, it is our hope that we can keep the trails and grounds of the park groomed, in repair, and freely open to visitors who wish to walk, hike, bike, snowshoe and ski the many beautiful fields and trails.

And it depends on you.

Our calculations are that it costs $40,000 to $60,000 annually just to keep the park grounds open and free for use. Funds are used to pay insurance and other overhead, groom trails, affect repairs, service equipment, provide security, collect and remove waste, mow lawns and fields and pay maintainance staff among other things.

This is the Ganong Park Legacy Fund honouring Whidden and Eleanor Ganong.

SCEP is the custodian of that legacy and you are the beneficiary. The annual target is $50,000. So please ...
We need you to help us keep the Ganong Nature and Marine Park freely open to the public.

Go right now to
and donate what you can.

Times are difficult and the need is urgent.
Complete our online form for members and volunteers.
More at

Turning Tides - Opportunities and Challenges for Ecotourism in the Bay of Fundy

By Frances Figart
More at Seascape web site,
How can people know that they need to protect a place unless they experience it fully and gain an understanding of its inhabitants?
A kayak is an excellent vehicle from which to experience a marine ecosystem. And here in the Quoddy Region of the Bay of Fundy, marine life is as diverse as the famous Fundy tides are dramatic.

The Quoddy Region is located on the Atlantic Ocean at the mouth of the Bay of Fundy on the Border between Maine, USA, and New Brunswick, Canada. The eco-economy here approaches one billion dollars annually, employs thousands of individuals, and includes whale-watching, birding and kayaking as well as a number of well-known tourism staples: St. Stephen, famous for Ganong Chocolates; St. Andrews, a spectacular resort town; Campobello, where FDR's summer cottage and International Park are located; Black’s Harbour, home of the world's largest sardine factory; and Grand Manan, an island known around the world for its spectacular scenery.
Close by and lesser known, but all the more precious because of its remoteness, is Deer Island, where TIES member Seascape Kayak Tours has its base of operations May through October. The Seascape residence and shop – where wilderness first aid and introduction to sea kayaking courses are taught – look out over Northwest Harbour on the Bay of Fundy. Twice a day, the water comes right up to the rack where stable fiberglass tandem kayaks are housed, and then several hours later, recedes 26 feet or more, revealing rock formations, seaweed and hardy intertidal invertebrates. Vacationers coming into this environment have the opportunity to experience a unique ecosystem that supports over 2,000 species of plants and animals.

Bruce Smith built Seascape 14 years ago on the philosophy that small group travel is imperative to minimize any environmental impact on fragile coastal ecosystems and to allow for a more authentic and enriching personal connection to the biodiversity of the Bay of Fundy. Group size rarely exceeds eight, and the guide-to-client ratio is one to four or less. Launching from the protection of the harbor, paddlers on Seascape’s half- or full-day trips are certain to see Bald Eagles that nest on many of the Fundy islands, and groups of curious and playful Harbor Seals and Grey Seals. Most of July through September, sea kayakers also encounter vast charms (not a familiar term to me – school or pod?) of Harbor Porpoise, listed as a "species of concern" by the Canadian Government; a prime porpoise nursery is nestled at the mouth of the Head Harbour Passage area. And, during much of the summer, Seascape’s ecotourists are also graced with Finback and Minke Whale sightings. All these animals are here to feed on copepods, krill and other planktonic species that comprise a complex food web that supports what scientists have identified as one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots.

We see so many amazing creatures from our kayaks, but we keep a respectful distance from the animals to minimize their stress,” said Smith, whose Fundy paddling trips have also crossed paths with Northern Right Whales, of which only some 300 still survive. This species comes here each year to feed and raise their young, and there is a Right Whale Sanctuary off Grand Manan. Although Right Whales have been protected from hunting since 1935, they are still on the brink of extinction due to being hit by ships.

And that threat could be heightened if plans proceed to allow huge tankers carrying liquidified natural gas (LNG) to sail right down Head Harbour Passage. Three separate proposals to build gargantuan marine terminals on the Maine shoreline threaten to turn a traditional tourism, fishing and aquaculture economy into an industrial zone fraught with the emission of six tons of greenhouse gases and toxic chemicals on a daily basis. Gigantic tankers, each accompanied by a gunboat to protect the potentially hazardous cargo, could soon change the land and seascapes for tour operators, fishermen and fish farmers who depend on the pristine nature of the area.

These massive boats would have a devastating effect on the wildlife in the area and the presence of this huge offloading facility in our backyard would have an enormous environmental impact,” said Smith. “Seascape would be a part of the exclusion zone, so every time a tanker comes through we would have to be off the water for at least a 90-minute period, not that we would want to be out there in the bay with something this size.”
Indeed the size of the tankers is hard to imagine, but they would be about the size of the Queen Mary (1,000 feet long and 12 stories high) and these monsters would pass through whale and porpoise feeding areas, breeding grounds and nurseries, as well as through aquaculture sites and fishing grounds for salmon, haddock, cod and pollock.

Highly controversial, fish farming began in 1979 on Deer Island. It has since grown into a major industry that employs large numbers of coastal residents. Patural International on Deer Island is the world's largest shipper of lobster. “The local fishery has sustained generation after generation and is worth about $173 million on the Canadian side alone,” says Art MacKay, director of the Quoddy Futures Foundation, which seeks to steer the local community away from industrial initiatives such as the LNG tanker proposals and back to its original eco-economy and sustainability. “This is an economic contest with a huge environmental backdrop. It's a choice: an economy based on our natural resources or heavy industrial development and loss of autonomy.”
Seascape’s tours take visitors past a series of herring weirs, a traditional method of fishing traced to the ancient Passamaquoddy Tribe that involves catching herring in a trap made from poles, brush and nets. These weirs formed the foundation of the Connors Brothers plant in Black's Harbour, the world's largest producer of sardines. Educating visitors about the local fishing culture in the Quoddy Region is an essential part of Seascape’s commitment to providing opportunities for contact between visitors and coastal inhabitants as a means of involving local communities in tourism. But the values of an ecotourism kayak tour operator and a traditional fisherman are often in conflict, says Smith, who has suffered through seal shootings by fishermen who do not want to share their potential catch with opportunistic marine life.

Part of Seascape’s environmental approach to waste management includes collecting and strapping onto sea kayaks trash and fishery debris left on the islands or in the ocean, which goes back to headquarters to be recycled. The company is also involved with local conservation efforts, spearheads marine ecosystem education initiatives and organizes annual beach sweeps and coastal cleanups for school groups and the community. A partnership with the Grand Manan Whale & Seabird Research Station is afoot to raise funding to protect the endangered Harbor Porpoise.

Protection is an element of ecotourism that desperately needs attention here,” Smith said, pointing out that in Costa Rica, where Seascape has made its winter base of operations for the past 13 years, the national parks system preserves 27 percent of land mass in protected areas and national parks. “The Quoddy Region in the Bay of Fundy – a marine environment every bit as diverse as a rainforest ecosystem – is crying out for such protection.”

And that’s precisely why Seascape places an emphasis on interpretation of the natural and cultural history of the Quoddy Region – and on its current challenges. “As an ecotour operator, we have an incredible opportunity to give folks who paddle with us an authentic understanding of all the living things in this unique marine ecosystem,” said Smith. “But this understanding has to include not only the marine mammals, coastal birds and beautiful scenery, but also an awareness of the conflicts, challenges and threats to the health of this special marine environment, as this is the only way to engage visitors in its future protection.”

Many facts and statistics in this article were provided by Art MacKay, Director, Quoddy Futures Foundation. To read more about the proposal to bring liquid natural gas tankers into the Passamoquoddy Bay, see the LNG slide show on the Links page of the Seascape web site,

Friday, October 24, 2008

Bee part of the Spell-ebration !

There's still time to register your school for Canwest Canspell 2009!
The deadline for school registration has been extended to November 30, 2008.

And thanks to the generous lead sponsorship of Canada Post - it's a Free Bee! - with no cost to schools or students.
To register now, click here

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Seascape Kayak Tours Inc. Launches New Website and Newsletter

Tthe first digital issue of Seascapes, your paddling community newsletter, in "on the shelf". This past summer has been a very busy one at Seascape’s headquarters on Deer Island. Not only did we have an awesome paddling season despite the high fuel costs and some foggy weather, but we unveiled our new logo and launched our new web site, where you can find tons of information about our offerings. This newsletter will give you the inside scoop on what we’ve been up to in Canada – and what’s in store for the exciting winter season in Costa Rica.

More ...

Friday, October 17, 2008

Good News at Quoddy. Quoddy Bay LNG Application Dismissed

Superport Fundy lost one industrial development in Passamaquoddy Bay today when FERC dismissed the application of Quoddy Bay LNG. Two applications remain in the pipe so to speak; Downeast LNG with a proposed terminal at Robbinston, Maine directly across the St. Croix from the resort town of St. Andrews-by-the-sea and Calais LNG even further up the river at Devil's Head near the International Historic Site at St. Croix Island and across from the Ganong Nature and Marine Park at Todd's Point.

While Quoddy Bay LNG at Sipayak/Pleasant Point made little sense, the two remaining proposals make even less sense. The most frequent question around the Bay is "Why would they continue to waste money on a dead issue?"  If anyone has an answer to this, we would appreciate your opinion right here.

More information on this news release at

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Going with the flow on the Fundy Coastal Drive

Nice Article from the Calgary Herald. Ms. Olsen certainly hit the high spots along the Fundy coast. Nice article.
Debbie Olsen
For the Calgary Herald

is everything along New Brunswick's Fundy Coast, but fortunately there
are moments in life when time is on your side. One of those moments
happened when we visited the world-famous reversing falls in St. John,
N.B. Although we hadn't taken the time to check the tidal charts, we
were fortunate to visit at high tide and see the fascinating phenomenon
of water flowing backwards up the falls.

There is no place on
earth where the difference between high and low tide is as great as it
is in the Bay of Fundy. In most places in the world, normal tide levels
are in the range of one or two metres, but in the Bay of Fundy, tides
average more than 10 metres. The highest tides can be found in Minas
Basin, where tides have been recorded at 16 metres higher than at low
tide. These tides create fascinating natural phenomenon that are found
nowhere else.

The best way to experience Fundy's tides is via New
Brunswick's 391-kilometre Fundy Coastal Drive. You can complete the
drive in about five hours, but it takes longer to really appreciate the
remarkable geological formations, scenic coves, lighthouses, and
beaches along the way. We spent two days just experiencing the section
from Saint John through Fundy National Park.

The scenery is
constantly changing along this drive and whales and other wildlife are
abundant. What may be a peninsula at low tide becomes an island at high
tide. Certain sites only exist during high or low tide. You'll want to
see the reversing falls during high tide, but walking on the ocean
floor near the Hopewell Rocks can only be done at low tide. Other
sites, like tiny fishing harbours, are usually more attractive at high
tide. Here are a few highlights of the drive.

St. Stephen

Fundy Coastal Drive begins or ends at St. Stephen depending upon which
direction you drive. Known affectionately as "Canada's Chocolate Town,"
Ganong Bros. Ltd. set up shop in 1873 and is now Canada's oldest
independent candy maker. There is a chocolate factory and museum and an
annual chocolate festival to enjoy in St. Stephen.

St. Andrews-By-The Sea

charming town of St. Andrews has historic sites, ocean-based activities
and attractions, shopping and fine dining. It is best known as the home
of the Fairmont Algonquin Hotel and Golf Resort. Built in 1889, this
resort is perched on a hill overlooking the town and is known to locals
as the "Castle-By-The-Sea." The golf course has received many awards
and the nearby Kingsbrae Garden, an 11-hectare horticultural garden,
has also received national acclaim.

Saint John

The oldest
incorporated city in Canada has much to offer visitors, including
shopping, dining, nightlife, museums, art galleries and attractions.
The most famous of these attractions is the reversing falls, a
phenomenon created when the force of the rising water in the Bay of
Fundy causes water to flow up a series of rapids in the Saint John
River against the flow of the current and seemingly against gravity.
You can enjoy observing the falls from scenic walkways and overlooks
that have been built along the edge of the river or get your adrenalin
going by experiencing a speedboat ride through the falls.

Fundy National Park

in 1948, Fundy National Park was the first national park in New
Brunswick and remains one of two national parks in the province. It
encompasses some of the last remaining wilderness in southern New
Brunswick and there are more than 120 kilometres of walking and hiking
trails that lead through the valleys and mountains of the Acadian
forest to scenic waterfalls and streams. Interpretive programs run
during the summer months and there are campgrounds, playgrounds, a
swimming pool, golf, tennis and lawn bowling in the park.

Hopewell Rocks Park

you have ever wanted to walk on the ocean floor while appreciating
fascinating rock formations, Hopewell Rocks Park is the place to go.
You can walk underneath the world-famous flowerpot-shaped rock
formations at low tide or kayak around them at high tide. The park is
open from mid-May to mid-October. For more information, visit:

Debbie Olsen is an Alberta-based freelance travel writer and mother of four.

© The Calgary Herald 2008

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Tidal turbine spot found

Location near Parrsboro in Bay of Fundy eyed for electricity project

Chris Roper reads pamphlets at the Seaeye booth near a Cougar XT remotely operated vehicle Tuesday at the Canadian Underwater Conference and Exhibition in Halifax. (CHRISTIAN LAFORCE / Staff)

It has been quite a challenge, but scientists believe they have found the ideal spot in the Minas Basin for three underwater turbines that will use tidal power to generate electricity.

However, powerful Bay of Fundy currents have destroyed expensive tidal monitoring equipment used in the quest to find the best spot.

"We have broken two (current meters), so we have about $100,000 in destruction so far," said Simon Melrose, who runs Oceans Ltd., in Nova Scotia.

The ocean research and offshore weather monitoring company also has offices in Newfoundland.

Last year, the Nova Scotia government announced successful bidders who will put pilot demonstration turbines in the Bay of Fundy in the spring.

Mr. Melrose, an expert in ocean applied science with Oceans Ltd., is carrying out oceanography for the tidal project for Minas Basin Pulp and Power. The Hantsport firm won the contract to build a tidal energy test facility, a large part of the project that includes designing and operating a structure to receive electricity from the turbines and process data.

Scientists have been busy searching for a level spot for the turbines about 40 to 50 metres underwater, where the tide flows in a linear direction instead of swirling in numerous directions, Mr. Melrose told the Canadian Underwater Conference and Exhibition in Halifax on Tuesday.

To date, scientists involved with the project have made about five boat trips to the Bay of Fundy to collect data.

The preferred site "hasn’t been confirmed, so it is provisional site," he said. "It is to the west of Parrsboro, to the northwest of Black Rock. That is the area we are looking at. We are trying to be within two to three kilometres of the shore."

Scientists with the project have found the currents are moving much faster in the Bay of Fundy than thought, which could mean more electricity if the energy can be harnessed.

"If you look at the charts, (the currents are) six to seven (nautical miles per hour) and we are seeing peaks of up to 11. It may be that particular site has too much for technology at this point and we have to push further back into less vigorous sites."

Scientists cannot put the turbines in the many areas of the Bay of Fundy where large rocks are moving underwater that can damage the turbines or in areas where the sea floor is moving and swirling.

"If you are putting down a structure, you ought to put it down onto a base that is solid," Mr. Melrose said. "At the same time, we don’t want to have to excavate, drill or anything else because it is very expensive."

The data was last collected on the Bay of Fundy in the 1970s, when tidal monitoring equipment was not as sophisticated.

"New technology does allow us to look through the water column and measure all the different layers, but you still have to get (equipment) into the water and out of the water, and that has been the challenge. It has proven to be expensive in terms of damage, and it has been proven a challenge to get clean, tidy, crisp data.

"We are winning, but it has been quite a project so far."

Work has progressed to the point that an application will soon be made to the provincial and federal governments for permission to proceed. That request will trigger the environmental review process.

The successful bidders who will test turbines include: Nova Scotia Power, which has teamed up with Ireland’s OpenHydro; Minas Basin Pulp and Power Co., which has teamed up with UEK Hydrokinetic of Maryland; and Clean Current of British Columbia.