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Hopewell Rocks, Canada's Remaining Wonder of the World

© By Mike Keenan
 
Both Birds And Kids Love Mud Elephant Rock On Health Card  Flower Pot With Hole  Flower Pots  Low Tide  Low Tide 

In tan shirt and moss green shorts, grey-haired, balding Paul Gaudet, Manager of the Hopewell Rocks Interpretive Centre, looks fit and trim as befits someone who ambles up and down the remarkable New Brunswick rock formations, Canada's last hope in the New7Wonders of Nature Contest that has reduced its final selection to the top 28 competitors. The Grand Canyon and Bay of Fundy are the two remaining vote-getters from North America, competing against the likes of Milford Sound, Kilimanjaro, Galapagos, the Amazon and others.
     His iPad loaded with dramatic visual displays, Paul acts like a kid at Christmas, a mere flick of his finger projecting incredible time-lapse images of all phases of the tide as well as historical overlays to reveal implausible erosion caused by the surging water as well as winter's relentless freeze and thaw.
     "We have marvellous measuring sticks," he exclaims. "Great flower pots or sea stacks along the beach. The vertical tide varies from a couple of feet to 40 metres. It arrives from the Atlantic Ocean, counter-clockwise, 100 billion tons of water, more than the outflow of all of the rivers in the world!" He pauses for the magnitude to sink in. "Fundy is 100 kilometres wide and 230 metres deep. It takes six hours and 13 minutes for full tide to arrive." This occurs twice a day, and there are tidal time charts to help plan your arrival.


Tide Tables - Hopewell Rocks NB

Using the information shown to the right visit

www.thehopewellrocks.ca to obtain the current data.

     The Hopewell Rocks stretch is 6 kilometres long and 13 metres deep. Because Fundy is so constricted here (by Nova Scotia and New Brunswick), where is the water to go?" Paul asks. Obviously upwards.
     Outside the Interpretive Centre, from a lookout, we examine extensive low-tide mud flats housing as many as 20,000 tiny crustaceans per square meter of brown muck, attracting hordes of shorebirds to a highly nutritious feast that provides energy stores for their southern migration. On the way down, we pass a busy water-hose area for cleaning one's shoes. We scramble down to the rocks and walk along the ocean floor, observing caves as we stroll through huge rock holes and wander under hefty arches.
     Peering at Paul's iPad in situ is a wonderful learning experience. He displays contrasting 1899 and 2009 pictures of the same area, revealing the imposing change nature worked on the sandstone, a sculptor creating astonishing art, captured in the names of the formations - Rock, Mother-in-Law, E.T., Lover's Arch, Turtle Rock, The Bear, Diamond Rock, Apple Rock and Castle Rock to characterize a few. He displays his Provincial Medicare card with a watermark picture of Elephant Rock, whose trunk subsequently has succumbed to erosion and collapsed.
     We pass several cordoned off areas marked by yellow tape. "Our staff refer to these as 'nurseries,'" he explains, "from which new flower pots and stacks will emerge." We encounter several impish children who have attracted more than their fare share of mud.
     On the iPad, Paul displays a 2002 video serendipitously taken by a tourist which captures a 300-ton rock fall. Wow! Next, he displays striking pictures of the Semi-palmated (partially-webbed) Sandpiper and a vivid grisly series depicting peregrine falcons devouring a grouse. The iPad stunningly captures the sounds of screeching, the sharp piercing calls. In late July and early August, fortunate tourists witness the awe-inspiring aerial dance performed by thousands of migrating shorebirds.

Mud Flats  Paul Gaudet And Trusty iPod  Paul With Mike Keenan  Rock Formation  Walking On Ocean Floor  Wash Station 

     A few interpretive guides behind us perform a "tide sweep," moving wayward tourists strung out along the beach back towards the exit stairs as water slowly rises. Again on iPad, we view kayakers who playfully meander over submerged and through and around visible rocks in their full-tide Fundy glory.
     Shawna Wallace, a student guide returning to Dalhousie University in Halifax, assures me that every day is different here. The tide is highest at new or full moon. She is amused by tourist guesses as to the land directly across the water. (Nova Scotia) "Some think it's Newfoundland or Gaspé," she quips.
     What's in the water? Paul reports a variety of whales - Minke, Fin, Humpback, Sperm and Right as well as porpoises, dolphins and a recently recorded Great White shark. He explains that the 'Right' Whale was so named by appreciative sailors because it's a slow swimmer, buoyant and therefore easy to hunt and kill.
     Back in the Interpretive Centre, I learn native Mi'kmaq legends that help explain the mysteries of Fundy and I feel the life-like rubbery skin display of a Fundy Right Whale. I learn about the rock geology and the phases of the moon that pull on the water. Acadians arrived here in 1698, followed by German settlers from Pennsylvania, Irish and Scottish settlers and then the United Empire Loyalists after the American Revolution.
     The declaration of the "New7Wonders of Nature" will be heralded on 11.11.11. Bernard Weber, founder, says that when it comes to nature, "If we want to save anything, we first need to truly appreciate it." Will the Bay of Fundy make the cut? With tide-sculpted coasts, two UNESCO biosphere reserves, critical feeding ground for 95% of the world's Semi-palmated Sandpipers, summer feeding grounds to 12 species of rare whales and the world's #1 number one location for green tidal energy, I sure hope so.

Mike Keenan writes for QMI Agency (Sun Media) Canada's largest newspaper publisher, printing 44 daily newspapers as well as a web portal, Canoe.ca. Besides regular columns for the St. Catharines Standard, Welland Tribune and Niagara Falls Review. Mike has been published in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Buffalo Spree, Stitches, West of the City and Hamilton-Burlington's View Magazine. His work is found in QMI published dailies such as the Toronto Sun, Ottawa Sun, Vancouver Sun, London Free Press, Calgary Sun, Winnipeg Sun and Edmonton Sun.

Photo Credits
Mike Keenan

If you go
This destination
as seen on
YouTube
Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hopewell_Rocks
Wikitravel: http://wikitravel.org/en/Bay_of_Fundy
About.com: http://seniortravel.about.com/od/ustravel/ig/Hopewell-Rocks---Bay-of-Fundy/
New Brunswick Tourism: http://www.tourismnewbrunswick.ca/

Admittance charges:
Adults 19+ - $ 8.50; Seniors 65+ - $ 7.25; Students (19+ with valid student card) - $ 7.25; Children age 5 - 18 - $ 6.25

Tide times:
The ocean floor is accessible for 3 hours before until 3 hours after low tide. Tides travel at 6-8 vertical feet per hour, depending upon the moon phases.

Whale-watching:
The nutrient-rich waters of the Bay of Fundy are famous for attracting myriad species. The best place to see them or book a whale watching tour is Grand Manan Island. The best time to view is from Mid-August to Mid-September.

Why the colour?:
The constant movement of water over the mud flats mixes the silt with the water. This creates the "Chocolate River" effect, known around the world.

Distance:
Moncton is approximately 64 kms. north.

What's happening, money, distance, time?
Media Guide: http://www.abyznewslinks.com/
Currency conversion: http://www.xe.com/ucc/
Distance calculator: http://www.indo.com/distance/
Time zone converter: http://www.timezoneconverter.com/

Transportation, visas, health, maps and temperature
Airlines (Wikipedia): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_airlines
Embassies/Consulates (Embassy World): http://www.embassyworld.com/
Health precautions (WHO): http://www.who.int/ith/en/
Google interactive map: http://maps.google.com/
Temperature (Temperature World): http://www.temperatureworld.com/




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