Waiting for Tides at the Bay of Fundy

The world’s largest tides—as high as a four-storey building—wash up at Canada’s Bay of Fundy. A writer discovers the drama.  
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Natural wonders can be found all across the bay, be it purple sun stars and Northern red anemones on the ocean floor, Atlantic puffins at Machias Seal Island, or the Flowerpot Rocks (right) on Hopewell Cape—eroded sandstone boulders that can be visited during low tide;  A humpback whale (left) splashes about in the Passamaquoddy Bay. Photos by: KenCanning/istock/getty images (whale), facing page: bichiophotographs.com/moment/getty images (rock formation)

“‘Where are we?’ asks a wee girl gazing in rapture at the reddish rockscape that surrounds us. I empathise with her question, for at this moment, standing dwarfed amidst cliffs, arches and urn-shaped stacks that look forged out of some deep subconscious, I too feel like Alice in an imaginary land. Only this is real, and these are the Hopewell or Flowerpot Rocks at the Bay of Fundy, which winds between the provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in Atlantic Canada.

Twice a day, the world’s most stupendous tides wash up at the Bay of Fundy. Waves as high as 50 feet (the height of a four-storey building), holding 160 billion tonnes of seawater, gush in and out of its dramatic cliffs and wild, rocky shoreline. Now the cold briny water swells, covering just my feet. In half an hour the water is up to my waist. In an hour, should I stand my ground, only bubbles would mark this spot. The free-standing stacks become islands twice a day—you can walk around them at one time of day, and kayak around them at another. The best way to see the change is to visit the rocks at high tide, and return to the same site six hours later at low tide.”

With the city of Saint John as her base, the writer drove around the magnificent landscape of the Bay of Fundy. In addition to discovering psychedelic lichen, brooding sea caves and cushy seals, she also heads to St. Martins, which takes her deeper into the region’s hiking trails and a Zodiac tour of the Fundy Biosphere Reserve.

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  • Sonia Nazareth can be found brandishing pen and camera on various anthropology-based, literary, art and travel assignments across the world.

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