Bay of Fundy ( ) is a bay on the Atlantic coast of
North America, on the northeast end of
the Gulf of
Maine between the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Nova
Scotia, with a small portion touching the U.S. state of Maine.
The Bay of
Fundy is known for its high tidal range and the
bay is contested as having the highest vertical tidal range in the
world with Ungava
Bay in northern Quebec and the
Severn Estuary in the UK.
The Bay of Fundy, shown on the east coast of North America
sources believe the name "Fundy" is a corruption of the French word
"Fendu", meaning "split" , while others believe it comes from the
, meaning "funnel."
was also named Baie Française (French Bay) by
explorer/cartographer Samuel de
Champlain during a 1604 expedition led by Pierre Dugua, Sieur de Monts
which resulted in a failed settlement attempt on St. Croix
of the Bay of Fundy, Shepody
Bay and Minas
Basin, form one of six Canadian sites in the Western Hemisphere
Shorebird Reserve Network, and is classified as a
It is owned by the provinces of
New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and the Canadian Wildlife Service
, and is
managed in conjunction with Ducks
and the Nature Conservancy of
In July 2009, the Bay of Fundy was named as a finalist for the
New 7 Wonders of
The Bay of Fundy at high tide
The same location at low tide
Folklore in the Mi'kmaq First Nation
claims that the tides in the Bay
of Fundy are caused by a giant whale splashing in the water.
attribute it to tidal resonance
resulting from a coincidence
of timing: the time it takes a large wave to go from the mouth of
the bay to the inner shore and back is practically the same as the
time from one high tide to the next. During the 12.4 hour tidal
period, 115 billion tonnes
of water flow in
and out of the bay.
for world tidal dominance has led to a rivalry between the Minas Basin in the Bay of Fundy and the Leaf Basin in Ungava Bay, over which body of water lays claim to the highest
tides in the world, with supporters in each region claiming the
Service finally declared it a statistical tie, with
measurements of a 16.8 metre (55.1 feet) tidal range in Leaf Basin
for Ungava Bay and 17 metres (55.8 feet) at Burntcoat
Head for the Bay of Fundy.
The highest water
level ever recorded in the Bay of Fundy system occurred at the head
of the Minas Basin on the night of October
–5, 1869 during a tropical
named the “Saxby Gale
The water level of 21.6 metres (70.9 feet) resulted from the
combination of high winds, abnormally low atmospheric pressure
, and a spring tide
Leaf Basin has only been measured in recent years, whereas the
Fundy system has been measured for many decades. Tidal experts note
that Leaf Basin is consistently higher on average
than Minas Basin; however, the highest recorded tidal ranges ever
measured are at Burntcoat Head and result from spring
tides measured at the peak of the tidal cycle every 18 years.
Tidal electrical power generation
Several proposals to build tidal
have been put forward in recent decades. Such
proposals have mainly involved building barrages
which effectively dam off a smaller arm of the
bay and extract power from water flowing through them.
facility, (the only one of its kind currently operating) the
Annapolis Royal Generating
Station consists of a dam and 18-MW power house on the
River at Annapolis Royal, but larger proposals have been held back by a
number of factors, including environmental concerns.
Annapolis Royal Generating Station has been studied for its various
effects, including an accelerated shoreline erosion problem on the
historic waterfront of the town of Annapolis Royal, as well as
increased siltation and heavy metal and pesticide contamination
upstream due to lack of regular river/tidal flushing. There have
also been instances where large marine mammals such as whales
have become trapped in the head pond after
transiting the sluice gates during slack tide.
Damming a large arm of the Bay of Fundy would have significant
effects, as yet inadequately understood, both within the dammed bay
itself and in the surrounding regions. Intertidal habitats would be
drastically affected and a facility would bring the bay closer to
resonance, increasing tidal range over a very large area.
could be an increase in tidal range of 0.2 m (from approximately 1
m) for certain coastal sites in Maine, possibly
leading to flooding.
There have been proposals in recent years for installing Aquanators
, the underwater equivalent to wind turbines
, which would not require any
damming or blockading of parts of the bay but would instead
generate electricity solely by being placed in areas of high water
flow, such as at choke points or merely along the floor of any part
of the bay which sees significant water movement.
The Bay of
Fundy lies in a rift valley called the
Basin; as the rift began to separate
from mainland North America, volcanic activity occurred, forming
volcanoes and flood
These flood basalts poured out over the
landscape, covering much of southern Nova Scotia. Sections of the
flood basalts have been eroded away, but still form a basaltic mountain range
known as North
. As a result, much of the basin floor is made of
brown colour. The rift valley eventually failed (see
) as the Mid-Atlantic Ridge
continued to separate
North America, Europe, and Africa.
part of the bay bifurcates, splitting
Bay in the northeast and the Minas Basin in the east. Chignecto Bay is further subdivided into
Basin and Shepody
Bay and the extreme eastern portion of Minas Basin is called Cobequid Bay.
Some of these upper reaches exhibit exposed
red bay muds
, for which the Bay of Fundy is
noted (for their appearance and biological productivity).
Bay whereas Cape Split defines the Minas
Channel, leading to the Minas Basin.
part of the bay is also home to four important sub-basins: Passamaquoddy Bay and Back
Bay on the New Brunswick shore, Cobscook Bay on the Maine shore, and the Annapolis
Basin on the Nova Scotia shore.
is home to several islands, the largest of which is Grand Manan
Island at the boundary with the Gulf of Maine. Other important islands on the north side of
the bay include Campobello Island, Moose Island, and Deer Island in the Passamaquoddy Bay area. Brier Island and Long Island can be found on the south side of the bay while
Haute is in the upper bay off Cape
Chignecto. Smaller islands and islets also exist in
Passamaquoddy Bay, Back Bay, and Annapolis Basin. The Five Islands, in the Minas Basin, are particularly
Overlooking the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia.
The bay receives the waters of several rivers, including:
The Bay of Fundy in early May.
The Salmon River tidal bore 22 Oct 2009.
The bay's extreme tidal range causes several interesting phenomena
in the various rivers which empty into it.
John River sees its flow reversed at high tide, causing a series of
rapids at the famous Reversing Falls
where the river empties into the bay, in a gorge in the middle of
the city of Saint John.
Rivers in the upper Bay of Fundy have a smaller flow-rate than the
Saint John, and a shallower slope. As a result, extensive mud flats
are deposited throughout the tidal range of the rivers.
Another phenomenon which occurs in these rivers of the upper bay is
a "tidal bore
", whereby the river flow is
completely reversed by the rising tide. One of the better
examples of a tidal bore can be seen on the Shubenacadie River near
the town of Truro and the village of Maitland, where local ecotourism operators offer the chance to
experience rafting the bore upriver. Another good example
of a tidal bore may be viewed on the Salmon River in the town of
The once-famous tidal bores on the
Petitcodiac and Avon rivers have been severely disrupted as a
result of causeway
construction in the
1960s-1970s which have caused excessive siltation.
largest population centre on the bay is the New Brunswick city of
up-river on the Petitcodiac, the city of Moncton is also frequently associated with the Bay of
Brunswick towns of St. Andrews, Blacks Harbour, and Sackville as well as the Nova Scotia towns of Amherst, Parrsboro, Truro, Windsor, Wolfville, Annapolis Royal, and Digby are also on the bay.
Ports and shipping
The port of Saint John gives access to the pulp and paper
industry and the Irving oil refinery
Nova Scotia, on the Avon River is also home to a pulp and paper
mill and is the shipment point for raw gypsum
exports to the United States. The ports of Bayside, New
Brunswick, (near St. Andrews) and Eastport, Maine, are important local ports.
A result of shipping traffic has been the potential for increased
collisions between ships and the North Atlantic Right Whale. In
2003, the Canadian Coast Guard
adjusted shipping lanes crossing prime whale feeding areas at the
entrance to the Bay of Fundy to lessen the risk of collision.
The bay is also traversed by several passenger and automobile
- Saint John, New Brunswick, to Digby, Nova Scotia. (Operated by Bay Ferries Limited.)
- Grand Manan Island to Blacks Harbour, New Brunswick. White Head Island, New
Brunswick, to Grand Manan Island. (Operated by
- Deer Island to Letete, New
Brunswick. (The Letete to Deer Island Ferry, operated by the New Brunswick
Department of Transportation.)
- Campobello Island, New
Brunswick, to Deer Island. Eastport,
Maine, to Deer Island. (Operated by East Coast
- Westport, Nova Scotia, (Brier Island) to Freeport, Nova Scotia, (Long Island). Tiverton, Nova Scotia, (Long Island) to East Ferry,
Nova Scotia. (Operated by Nova Scotia Department of
Transportation and Public Works.)
The Bay of Fundy's ports and basins have a long shipping and
shipbuilding history. Among other accomplishments, Fundy ports
produced the fastest ship in the world, the ship Marco Polo
; the largest wooden ship
ever built in Canada, the ship William D. Lawrence; and the first
female sea captain in the western world, Molly Kool of Alma, New Brunswick.