“Imagine a kid sloshing water back and forth in a tub,” says our kayaking guide Richard Faulkner of Baymount Adventures. “If he times the sloshing right, he can amplify the wave size, so the water rises right out of the tub and onto the floor. That’s why some people call the Bay of Fundy the world’s largest bathtub.”
At first, we weren’t seeing any. No waves. Nothing. Out on the water this foggy July morning in New Brunswick’s Bay of Fundy, we could barely see 10 m ahead. Our group of eight paddlers clung together as if strung by a rope. Then just on cue, gentle gusts of wind appeared, allowing a glimpse of the cliffs around Hopewell Rocks, a narrow-mouthed, shallow inlet. Soon we were paddling among Flowerpot Rocks, giant arches and stacks, some capped with windswept spruce trees and bushes. Orchestrated by the gravitational pull of the moon and sun, 100 billion tons of salty seawater has rushed in and sluiced out in 16-m-high tides, shaping the towering “flowerpots.” At this spot, tides fall and rise as high as a four-storey building, making it arguably the best place to see the highest tides on the planet. By now only wisps of fog remain and the hot summer sun glints off the water.
We return that afternoon. We now stroll where, just a few hours earlier, we had floated by in our sea kayaks. Thousands of shore birds feed on shrimp on the mud flats. (Some studies report up to 20,000 of these crustaceans per square metre.) Plus, 34 species of shorebirds—sandpipers and plovers—flock here on their only stop en route from the Arctic to South America. The goal: to double their weight at the seafood smorgasbord.
As the tide rises, the birds take flight in an exquisite pattern, flowing through the air as if choreographed, banking and swooping in unison. So many fly together, they momentarily darken the sky—a massive flicker of whites, blacks and greys.
(An interpretive centre at Hopewell Rocks Provincial Park explains the tides and profusion of birds.) www.thehopewellrocks.ca www.baymountadventures.com www.tourismnewbrunswick.ca
The CTC produced a version of this story for its GoMedia website.