Whales of the Bay of Fundy

Whales of the Bay of Fundy

by Jamie Hadland
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The Bay of Fundy is located between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia and is home to the world’s highest tides. The tides range in height from 11 feet to 53 feet depending on location. They change between high and low tide twice a day, carrying with them a hundred billion tons of water.

The story of the Bay of Fundy, as told in Micmac lore says, “It was a giant whale, who angered the god Glooscap, and created such a splash with his mighty tail that the water sploshes back and forth to this day.” Although this story is entertaining, scientifically speaking the Bay’s tremendous tides are formed by its unique shape, which was created hundreds of millions of years ago.

In the summer months the Bay of Fundy is the feeding ground for half of the world’s population of endangered North American right whales and 12 other species of whales. They feast on the enormous amounts of krill, plankton, squid and schools of young herring, cod, pollock and mackerel. It is also the preferred location for whales to give birth, mainly because of the vast amounts of food available and due to the protection the bay provides. At any given time the population of whales in the area ranges between three and four hundred.

The first species to arrive in late spring are the finback and minke whales and harbour porpoises. The endangered right whale usually arrives in mid-July and stays until Fall.

The most common whales in the Bay of Fundy are:
The Minke Whale: Can grow up to 30 feet and weigh up to 10 tons. These whales travel in pods of 2 or 3, and can dive for up to 25 minutes without surfacing for air.

The Humpback Whale: Can grow up to 60 feet and weigh up to 30 to 50 tons. The females of the species are usually larger than the males. These whales enjoy spy hopping, breaching and tail lobbing and usually put on a good show for those who go whale watching.

The Finback Whale: The second largest whale in the world (next to the blue whale) and generally only frequent the bay during their migration periods, when they are seen following their food sources. The finback can grow up to 82 feet in length, and they usually travel in pods of 2 to 7 whales. They can even live for up to 100 years.

The North American Right Whale: The most endangered species of whale in the world. There are fewer than 35 left worldwide. These whales migrate to the Bay in the summer months to mate. They can grow up to 50 feet and weigh up to 45 tons.

The best time to view the many different species of whales found in the Bay of Fundy is August.

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