This is the third in a series of posts by Blue Ocean co-founder Bob Frerck, telling of the experiences of his family’s vacation combined with Blue Ocean research traveling through Canada’s Atlantic Maritime Provinces —
In News from the Maritimes, Part 3, our family continues our travels along the north coast of Prince Edward Island in Canada’s Maritimes. Just west of the sand dunes in the National Park is the town of Cavendish, the pilgrimage site for all things related to Anne of Green Gables.
Anne of Green Gables
You probably do not appreciate the global appeal of Lucy Montgomery’s beloved character Anne until you see the scores of tourists flocking to Anne’s Heritage Sites.
When the novel Anne of Green Gables was first published in 1908, few readers realized that there really was such a place as PEI much less where it was. Today, thanks to being translated into 20 languages and featured in several television series, Anne’s story of growing up in an enchanted land has become famous around the world. Millions of tourists, many of them from Asia where Anne has become a favorite character, now make the trip to PEI just to see Anne’s farm house and museum. Get the latest on PEI’s tourism website.
Anne has been a favorite character in our home especially with our youngest Chloe, so the girls were more than excited to try on some authentic costumes and play the part. With their long braids they were an instant photo opportunity with the Chinese tourists that lined up to take photos. I think I missed a marketing opportunity. (photo – Blue Ocean)
World Famous Malpeque Bay Oysters
As we migrated along the north shore of PEI we eagerly anticipated reaching the small harbor of Malpeque on Malpeque Bay. The bay is large, nearly bisects the island and is perfect for growing oysters. We wanted to taste test this sustainable harvest so we headed to the Malpeque Oyster Barn. We were also eager to learn if the local oystermen were seeing signs of ocean acidification similar to what has been having a profound effect on Pacific oysters. I am pleased to report that the oysters were delicious, some of the best anywhere and the local oystermen were finding no signs of shells softening or mutation as a result of ocean acidification.
Lobsters, Lots of Lobsters
Lobstermen here in PEI reported a plentiful harvest, and as well as the need to throw back lots of little ones. Commented one fisherman, “This is one of the most highly regulated fishing industries in Canada. We all have to play fair to keep this industry alive.”
This abundance does not mean PEI is unaffected by climate change: Ironically, the abundant lobster harvests seen over the last decade in Maine and the Canadian Maritimes may be a result of lobsters migrating northward from warming waters further south.
Another interesting theory in explaining the increase of lobsters is the decline in cod populations. A century of overfishing brought the once mighty cod to the brink of extinction and since cod are the chief predators of juvenile lobsters, the decline in cod has allowed the lobster population to boom. This relationship between cod and lobster exemplifies the interconnectedness of the ocean’s ecological web of life. (photo – Blue Ocean Network)
Climate Change effects are being seen!
The Maritime Seafood Industry says it has been seeing evidence of a warming climate with lobsters molting earlier. Molting occurs when the lobster sheds its hard shell, in preparation of growing a larger new “hard” shell. During this interim soft shell period the lobster is more vulnerable to disease, and cannot be as easily transported. “Things are changing, and we may not be able to totally control it, but we’re going to have to react to it and start planning for it as we go forward,” said Osborne Burke, of Victoria Co-operative Fisheries Ltd. in Neil’s Harbour, N.S.
There are numerous research programs that are attempting to understand the implications of climate change and rising ocean temperatures for the marine life of the Northeast and the seafood industry that is dependent on it, see NOAA.
Take a Break for Lobster Trivia
Do you know how long a lobster can live, welllll, it seems for a very, very long time. Four years ago Butch Yamali purchased Peter’s Clam Bar in Hempstead, Long Island and Louie the giant lobster had already been there for well over ten years. You see Louie weighs 22 lbs. and when a customer offered Yamali $1,000 to buy Louie the giant lobster and eat him at a Father’s Day feast Butch got sentimental. Instead Butch did the right thing and set Louie free.
Yamali organized an official ceremony and invited Hempstead’s town supervisor, Anthony Santino, to the ceremony to grant Louie an official pardon. After Santino mumbled a few very emotional words, Louie was released near the Atlantic Beach reef. So how old was Louie the 22lb lobster? The official estimate is 132 years, that’s right 132 years and most important it seems Louie can continue to live happily in the ocean for many more years.
Bob Bayer, is the executive director of the Lobster Institute in Maine and he thinks “He’ll be just fine. There aren’t many predators who want to eat a big old lobster like that.” So how long can a lobster live? Apparently there is another old geezer in captivity that is 140 years old. But what’s really interesting is that scientists say the really large lobsters show no signs of aging. So, theoretically, if a lobster never ran out of food and never got eaten by a predator or shot with a spear gun, it might be able to live forever.
The Guinness World Record for lobster size went to a 44.3-pound lobster found in 1977 near Nova Scotia so Louie at only 22 pounds and 132 years was still a spring chicken, errr spring lobster. And he still might be making little lobsters, seems lobsters retain their fertility well into old age and without viagra.
North Cape Lighthouse and More Lobsters
We left Malpeque and traveled northwestward to discover some of PEI’s less traveled charms. First stop was Tignish, one of the island’s largest fishing harbors, where lobsters and blue fin tuna charters are the town’s main business.
Just beyond Tignish is the North Cape and its historic lighthouse. The lighthouse was built in 1866 and is still in operation warning mariners off the treacherous rock reef (the world’s longest) at its base. (photo – PEI)
North Cape Wind Energy Interpretative Center
The North Cape lighthouse oversees a long, windswept peninsula that is a perfect location for the North Cape Wind Energy Interpretative Center. Full size models of wind turbines and educational displays complement the wind farm’s 10 working turbines just outside the center. It seems that the only time most of us see wind turbines is from a distance passing by at 70 miles an hour. This center gives us the opportunity to appreciate the turbine’s tremendous size up close and to better understand the nature of this revolutionary new technology.
See more in Part 4 of News from the Maritimes
In News from the Maritimes, Part 4 we leave PEI for Nova Scotia to check out the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax, the historic ship building seaport at Lunenberg and Peggy’s Cove.
By Bob Frerck, Blue Ocean Network
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