Many have ranked the Bay of Fundy above Australia’s Great Barrier Reef when examining the extensive and exceptional pyramid of the marine food-chain it has created, and as a consequence, the broad and diverse range of creatures it attracts.
The wondrous and unparalleled tides of Fundy are the engine which powers not only a constant and repetitious erosion mechanism, but one which fuels, nurtures and supports one of the great natural ecosystems of the world. At least eight species of whales are to be found in the Bay of Fundy, including the Minke, Humpback, Baleen and the endangered Northern Right Whale.
With the powerful tides that ceaselessly flush and churn the rich nutrients along the coastline, the whales feast on the enormous amounts of krill, squid and schools of young herring, pollock and mackerel that abound here. Further, the Bay of Fundy is a preferred location for whales to give birth, both for the abundant food and for the protection that the Bay provides. We have a separate page devoted to the Bay of Fundy Whales where you can get more information about these magical creatures.
In recent years, Whale Watching has become an extremely popular day adventure for thousands of tourists visiting the Fundy region. From boats hugging the coastlines, visitors can view at close range the spectacular acrobatics of the whales, as these massive mammals breech, lunge and cavort as they feed, play or just show-off. These whale watching tours also offer a front row seat to life here in its myriad of marine lifeforms – shrimp, herring, seals, seabirds and whales.
Descending the remarkable succession of species we encounter the smaller toothed-whales, including playful porpoises and dolphins, seals, several varieties of sharks, and a plethora of fish (including shad, flounder, tuna, sea sturgeons, salmon, cod, herring, pollack, hake, haddock and halibut) as well as lobsters, crabs, scallops, shrimp and sea urchins. All of the smaller forms of sea life are drawn and held to the Bay by the rich abundance of algae, plankton and krill – the veritable foundation and substructure of the remarkable biological chain. Little wonder that the Fundy fishery generates more than 200 million dollars annually, making it the most affluent fishery region in Atlantic Canada. As such, the commercial fishing stocks are monitored by Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans to ensure sustainability of this remarkable resource.
Other Mammals Of The Bay Of Fundy
Harbour Porpoise (Pocoena phocoena)
The Bay of Fundy is the main breeding ground for this porpoise. It’s the smallest cetacean in the Bay of Fundy and grows to 4-6 feet in length. Harbour porpoise are locally known as the “puffing pig” due to the spouting noise they make as they exchange air at the surface. Some characteristic features are their rounded snout, small triangular fin and they tend to jump out of the water when a boat approaches.
White Sided Dolphins
White sided dolphins grow 6-10 meters, have a tall dorsal fin, pointy snout, characteristic yellow strip along the side, black back, and white belly. Their exuberant behavior is a pleasure to watch as they play in the bow wave of the vessels.
Harbour Seals (phoca vitulina concolor)
These seals are 5 ft in length and average 200 lb. Grey to brown or black in color with mottled spots. Infants may be white and learn to swim very soon after birth. Harbour seals have cute large round eyes with a cocker-spaniel look to the face. They are best viewed on the seal rookeries or rocky ledges at low tide. They are known to be curious and will take a look at passengers on board of the whale watching tour boats. They compete with the fishermen for the herring fish stocks.
Gray Seals (Halichoerus grypus)
Gray seals weight up to an incredible 800 lb. and have a “horse-like” snout appearance. The young are white and remain out of the cold water for 2-3 weeks until they have accumulated enough of a fat layer to protect them from the cold water.