This is the first in a series of posts by Blue Ocean co-founder Bob Frerck relating the experiences of his combined family vacation and Blue Ocean research while traveling thru Maine and Canada’s Atlantic Maritime Provinces —
Our family just returned from a very well-deserved summer vacation traveling thru Maine and the Canadian Maritimes. For non-Canadians that means the provinces of Nova Scotia, News Brunswick and Prince Edward Island (we didn’t make it as far as Newfoundland and Labrador also considered part of the Maritimes). Our two girls ages 10 and 12 had never been to Maine and eastern Canada so this was an opportunity to take in some history helped along with beautiful ocean seascapes. (photo – besttourism)
Historically the ocean has played an overwhelming role in the cultures of the peoples of Maine and the Maritimes. Indigenous people and then Europeans looked to the sea for their livelihood. In the early 1600’s the Basque sailed from Northern Spain to fish for cod (later whaling) and their fishing sites can be found scattered along the coasts of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. The Basque were legendary sailors, in fact when Ferdinand Magellan circumnavigated the globe, nearly a fifth of his crew were Basque. (photo – Magellan)
Checking the Pulse of Ocean Health
Fishing and ocean trade have been the industries that have fueled the sea faring economy in this area for centuries, consequently what could be a better destination for checking the pulse of our ocean’s health and enjoying the sea at the same time.
We hit the coast in Bar Harbor, Maine in the Acadia National Park. Since our girls had not been to Acadia we had a list of must- do’s; circling the craggy coastline, winding up Cadillac Mountain, visiting a still working lighthouse and eating in a shanty seafood restaurant in Bass Harbor. Once accomplished, we started our drive north toward the Canadian border and Campobello Island.
Campobello Island and Whale Rescue
Campobello is famous as the summer retreat of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his cottage, all 34 rooms, is open to the public. Although officially in Canada the island is connected by bridge to the US, making for easy access. After a tour of the estate we drove to Head Harbor at the far eastern end of the island where the whale rescue boats are docked. The week before I had written an article on Joe Howlett, so we wanted to follow up. (photo -Head Harbor Light)
A Campobello lobsterman, Joe was also a founding member of the Campobello Whale Rescue team. He had been called upon to free a Right Whale entangled in fishing lines, once freed the whale catastrophically flipped onto Joe’s boat killing him.
So, it was imperative that while on Campobello, we stop at the whale rescue office to express our condolences. Joe was a very gregarious sort, you need to be when in the business of rescuing whales, and was much loved by all who knew him.
A Bad Year for North Atlantic Right Whales
This has been a bad year for the endangered North Atlantic Right Whales, it is thought that there are approximately 500 alive and 10 have been found dead since June 7th. Several were killed by collisions with shipping, four found dead off Newfoundland’s west coast, and at least one was entangled in fishing gear. So, Joe was doing his best, as he would say “I was born to do this,” he is sorely missed.
Joe’s death focused additional attention on the Right Whale toll and stronger measures are now being undertaken to stem the tide, including closing a snow crab fishing zone in the southern gulf of St. Lawrence and asking mariners to voluntarily cut their speed in the shipping lanes in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The crushing loss of this pillar of the community was palpable in this tight-knit community that makes a living fishing, lobstering, and whale watching tours. With tears in her eyes, a colleague said, “It gives us comfort to know Joe died doing what he loved – saving our whales.”
Breaking News – August 27, another North Atlantic Right Whale was found dead off Cape Cod last week, that makes 13 that have died since June in the waters off New England and the Canadian Maritimes. This is a staggering loss for the endangered species that number just over 500. See our recent post on Whale Rescuer Killed after Saving Whale.
The Bay of Fundy and Flowerpots
Our next stop was the Hopewell Rocks on the Bay of Fundy. The Hopewell Rocks are sea stacks some with trees growing on top (called flower pots) that at low tide are completely out of the water. (photo – panoramio)
The Bay is famous for having the world’s highest tides, ranging from 14.5 meters (47.5 feet) to 16.3 meters (53.5 feet).” If you time it right, you can “walk on the sea floor” and that “ecoTour has become a big draw for tourists who come from all over the world to experience this phenomenon. Travelers are clearly wanting more nature. Tourism officials have been noting upticks in tourism to Fundy over the past 5 years, and cite an increase of 27% in just this past year. The flower pots and surrounding beaches make for great exploring and the entire Fundy experience gives you an overwhelming sense of the power of the sea and the impermanence of the land. That’s Chloe enjoying a Bay of Fundy beach at low tide.
The Joggins Fossil Cliffs
Directly east of the Hopewell Rocks on the Nova Scotia coast of the Bay of Fundy are the Joggins Fossil Cliffs. Stretching for fifteen kilometers between two headlands, the Joggins cliffs are a UNESCO site containing plant fossils from the Late Carboniferous period. However, the most exciting find at Joggins were fossils of the earliest amphibians that left the sea to crawl upon the land over 300 million years ago. It seems fitting that the earliest creature emerging from the sea should be part of our story. (photo – jogginsfossilcliffs.net)
We covered a lot in three weeks, speaking to those on the water about Sustainable Fishing. In Part 2 we visit lighthouses and the Blue Fin Tuna Capital of the World on Prince Edward Island; chat with lobsterman and eat some of the world’s best (and sustainable) oysters.
by Bob Frerck, Blue Ocean Network
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