#9: Tides

After another two days out in the Bay of Fundy, we are all thoroughly exhausted! Thursday shaped up to be another amazing day full of right whales. Many of these whales we had seen on the previous day, but we documented the presence of a few whales that we had not seen before. Within two days, we documented at least 53 right whales in the Bay of Fundy. Not bad for two days of work!

Today (Friday), we woke up bright and early and headed out into the Bay expecting to have yet another whale-filled day. After fueling the boat, we decided to head north, around the northern point of Campobello Island (known as East Quoddy Head). During the past two days on the water we continued to see whales to the east of us that we didn't have time to get to. In an attempt to find the eastern-most whales, we began our search for right whales by heading south-east. We soon found one right whale, who declared her presence by breaching. As we approached the whale started to "log." Logging is a resting behavior that is frequently seen and we describe it as "lying still at the surface of the water." From a distance, a resting whale can look like a log in the water, hence the term "logging."

Along with the callosity, this whale was identified as #2791 in the North Atlantic Right Whale Catalog by a distinctive scar on her flukes. She is a female who last calved in 2006. As we resumed heading to the southeast, the seas slowly began building and we started to see lots of white caps. The wind was light, but coming from the northwest and the tide had started coming in. In the Bay of Fundy, having even a light breeze against the powerful tide can ruin your day!

The Bay of Fundy has the highest vertical tidal range in the world. This dynamic body of water sitting between Canada's New Brunswick and Nova Scotia can rise, at high tide, to just over 50 feet. Approximately 115 billion tons of water flood in and out of the Bay during each tide cycle. While folklore claims that these tides are caused by a giant whale splashing water into the Bay, oceanographers have another explanation. The tide of the ocean at the mouth of the funnel shaped Bay of Fundy creates a wave of water that builds as it travels up the Bay. Other factors such as storms, atmospheric pressure and position of the moon can influence the height of the Fundy tide. Unfortunately we decided that this wind vs. tide effect would cause the sea to be too rough to find and photograph right whales and so we turned towards home early today.

- Cyndi

Top photo taken by Bob Bowman. The research vessel Nereid heading for home as Monica and Jon stand on the bow searching for marine life and debris to record.

Lower photo taken by Marilyn of right whale # 2791.

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