Frequently Asked Questions

Were is the Bay of Fundy located?

The Bay of Fundy is located on the Atlantic coast of North America, on the northeast end of the Gulf of Maine. It’s right between the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, with a small portion touching the U.S. state of Maine. Learn more about the area in our Bay of Fundy communities section »

What is the best place to watch the tides in the Bay of Fundy?

Although you can view the tides all over the Bay of Fundy, the tides near the mouth of the Bay aren’t nearly as impressive as those found further up the Bay. The tidal range gets more pronounced the further you travel towards the head of the Bay, with the highest tides occurring in the Minas Basin.

The vertical effect can be seen at pretty much all of the wharves along the Fundy coast. Popular locations for viewing extreme vertical tides include the wharves in Halls Harbour, Parrsboro, and Advocate in Nova Scotia and the Alma and St. Martins wharves in New Brunswick. First visit at high tide to see all the boats float level with the top of the docks. Then return 6 hours later to see the boats sitting on the ocean floor, up to 16 meters lower than where they started. Take a look at our time lapse video of the vertical tide effect in Halls Harbour to get an idea of what to expect: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hbzwzrZXUKA

A significant horizontal tide change occurs in Chignecto Bay and the Minas Basin, where a fascinating inter-tidal zone of beaches, rock ledges, and sand flats is exposed at low tide. At low tide, visitors are able to walk on the ocean floor. Check out our video shot in Burntcoat Head Park: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KFba1QpDqj0

Remember that it takes 6 hours to go from one extreme to the other! For more information take a look at: http://bayoffundy.com/about/highest-tides/

If we are coming in from the USA, do we need passports?

Yes, you’ll need a passport to cross the border.

How fast is the current during the changing of the tides, and is this sufficient to produce tidal energy if turbines were in place?

The speed of the current varies greatly depending on where in the Bay of Fundy you are. However, a few years ago the Nova Scotia government set up a demonstration site in the the Minas Passage area of the Bay of Fundy. This location is close to Black Rock, about 10 kilometres west of Parrsboro. This particular site is ideal for tidal energy because it features:

  • water depths up to 45 metres at low tide
  • a sediment-free bedrock sea floor
  • straight flowing currents
  • water speeds up to 10 metres per second on ebb and flow

The Bay of Fundy is commonly regarded as the most potent site for in-stream tidal generation in North America. Early estimates suggest that the Minas Passage may be able to generate 300 megawatts of green, emission free electricity – enough energy to power close to 100,000 homes – while the Bay of Fundy as a whole could provide up to 8,000 MW of installed capacity.

Unlike with a barrage or dam system, in-stream tidal devices are placed in the flowing tidal stream to harness its kinetic energy. The technology is brand new and the first device tested in the Bay of Fundy – a 400-tonne heavy 1 MW undersea turbine developed by the Irish company OpenHydro – had to be pulled out of the water a year early because the Fundy tides broke of all the turbine’s blades. It will take some time to test and refine these devices to create a commercially viable technology that can withstand the violent Fundy tides.

That being said, there are currently three working tidal power plants in the world – one in France, one in Russia, and one in Nova Scotia. But these are all barrage plants that use dams to hold the water before releasing it through a generator – similar to conventional hydroelectric plants. Nova Scotia’s Tidal Generating Station has been operating since 1984. It uses the Bay of Fundy tides to produce 20 megawatts of energy – enough to power about 6,000 homes.

For more information an bit more about the whole test process take a look at this article: http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2011/03/nova-scotia-joins-surge-on-tidal-power

Do the Bay of Fundy turbies work in both directions (e.g. incoming and outgoing tidal flow)? If so, how are the turbine blades oriented?

Yes, the OpenHydro turbine they deployed in the Bay of Fundy, and almost all other tidal turbine designs, work in both directions. Some images of the OpenHydro turbine can be found here: http://www.openhydro.com/images.html. They’ve also posted a demonstration video that clearly shows how the turbine works: Download video

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