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Bay of Fundy already on CPAWS natural wonder list

The Bay of Fundy is the only Canadian entry in the New Seven Natural Wonders of the World competition, and it is going up against some steep competition: Great Barrier Reef, Amazon rainforest, and Grand Canyon to name a few.  Tomorrow, the votes will be revealed and the winners announced.

But, to anyone who has gone for a walk along the shores of the Bay of Fundy, or seen the majestic whales who visit there each year, it’s obvious that the Bay is already a global treasure regardless of what some competition says.

Photo by Chris Miller

Watching the world’s highest tides go up and down puts us humans in our place.  All that water rushing in and rushing out, raising and dropping the level of the ocean by up to 50 feet, one can’t help but feel tiny on this planet.  When the tide goes out, the fishing boats at the wharfs are left high-and-dry, tipped over on their sides on the mud well below the wharfs.

Near Apple River, NS, where the nearby inlet almost entirely drains of water at low tide, the fishermen don’t really even bother with a wharf.  They just tie their boats to large poles stuck in the mud and make sure they get back to shore before the tides empty their harbour.  It’s an impressive site indeed.

And, if you’ve ever seen the whales of the Bay of Fundy, you’ll know just how rich the marine life here is.  There are twelve species of whales in the Bay, including the very endangered North Atlantic Right whale.  Nothing beats being out on the Bay in a zodiac and watching these majestic creatures go about their business.

Surprisingly, however, even though the governments of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are asking the world to vote for the Bay of Fundy, one doesn’t need to dig too far to realize that we’re not doing much at all to protect the magnificent ecosystems of the Bay.  Fundy lacks a system of genuine marine protected areas, even for the areas of critical significance for the whales, leaving much of its rich diversity at risk, even as the Bay is increasingly used for industrial activities.

One of the sea lanes has been moved in recent years, which is helping reduce collisions between ships and whales.  It’s a welcome step, but more needs to be done.

CPAWS has been calling on the government of Canada, with support from the provincial governments, to establish a National Marine Conservation Area for the outer Bay of Fundy region for years.  Parks Canada has commissioned a study, but hasn’t released the results.  And, our governments are oddly silent on the need to truly protect the Bay of Fundy and stand behind the call-to-action to vote for the Bay.

So, with the release of the New Seven Wonders results tomorrow, CPAWS is hoping that the Bay of Fundy will be on that list, but regardless of the outcome we’ll keep up the pressure to finally protect the Bay, and its ecological riches, once and for all.

~Chris Miller