The Bay of Fundy will see huge tides this upcoming weekend -so big they’re called King Tides- with a forecasted high of 17 metres for Saturday. According to Kings County News in Nova Scotia, these King Tides likely won’t be a problem, as Fundy fishermen are well used to dealing with big tides.
“This is a big one but within our working capabilities,” says Ed Chishom, manager of the Digby, Nova Scotia, wharf. “As long we aren’t getting a storm surge ahead of it, we’ll be okay.”
The Bay of Fundy produces the highest tides in the world, with averages ranging from 2 metres at low tide to 15 or 16 metres at high tide – that’s as tall as a four storey building. During an average tidal period, 115 billion tonnes (billion!) flow in and out of the bay.
Roughly twice each month the Earth, moon and sun are in alignment so that together they create a greater than normal gravitational pull on the Earth’s oceans and produce what are known as spring tides. But for a few times every year the spring tides coincide with the moon’s being at its closest distance to the Earth -the perigee of the moon’s orbit- and adds extra gravitational oomph to the tidal bulges, creating King Tides.
Combined with storm surges and dramatic changes in air pressure, King Tides can be dangerous.
Recently, the King Tides were responsible for flooding in the Marshall Islands of Micronesia, causing the evacuation of several hundred residents of Kili Atoll.
Tides at the Bay of Fundy have been a tourist attraction for generations. Recently, one of the most visited sites, Elephant Rock at New Brunswick’s Hopewell Rocks, was forever changed as half of the formation split off and between 100 to 200 tonnes of rock came crashing to the ground. Formed by the rise and fall of the tides, Hopewell Rocks currently has 17 standing rock structures.
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Some sections of the The Bay of Fundy bay could come under federal protection with the Trudeau government’s promise to increase protected marine and coastal areas from 1.3 per cent to five per cent by 2017 and then to 10 per cent by 2020. The Musquash estuary is of particular concern, according to Maxine Westhead of the Marine Protected Areas Program of the federal department of Fisheries and Oceans. “The tidal range of the Bay of Fundy is the largest in the world and that drives and shapes the ecosystems you find here,” says Westhead. “Over 2,000 species in [the Musquash estuary] have been identified and it has the highest biodiversity range in the Bay of Fundy.”
So far, fifteen areas within the Bay of Fundy have been identified as potential areas of interest for federal protection, with Westhead saying that Fisheries and Oceans will continue its ongoing discussions with local communities and industry on both the New Brunswick and Nova Scotia sides of the bay. “We’re open to anyone who wants to have a say,” says Westhead.