Bay of Fundy Marine Life - Who Lives in the Bay?
Atlantic Canada’s Bay of Fundy is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of North America and it sits at the top of the World’s Highest Tides List. It is a pretty awe-inspiring sight! Here at See Sight JetBoats, we get out on the Bay seven days a week, during high season. We take sightseeing cruises of the Bay of Fundy tides. We also get our kicks on a thrill ride jet boat through the Reversing Falls Rapids. Wildlife sightings are common on our tours. With all the time we spend on top of the water we often wonder who lives in the Bay.
The answer to this query is infinitely fascinating! It turns out that having the world’s highest tides has a BIG impact on the wildlife habitat in the Bay. Those impressive tides that cycle through the 270-kilometer-long Bay of Fundy bring with them a wealth of fresh nutrients from the sea. These constantly replenishing waters are home to a food chain whose complexity rivals the Great Barrier Reef! All that wildlife and the ample food supply in the Bay means that it is home to many majestic apex predators.
Cetacea is an order of life including most aquatic mammals. These are animals that, despite living in the sea, breathe air, give birth to live young and suckle them, and are warm-blooded. Cetacean comes from the Greek word ketos or sea monster, and they are perhaps the Bay of Fundy’s most famous and sought after inhabitants. The Bay of Fundy is home to plenty of Cetaceans, including up to 12 different species of whale. This makes it one of the best locations for whale watching in Canada. With the vast variety of species, whale watching season in the Bay of Fundy is long — June through the end of October, long!
Whales love the Bay of Fundy! It is full of food and protected from the open sea. Those high Fundy tides bring in krill, squids, herring, pollock, and mackerel, among many other delicious treats. It is also a perfect location for whales to birth their young. All these factors make the Bay of Fundy an ideal spot for whale watching in Canada. Tourists come throughout the summer months to view these majestic creatures and their newborns. The different species of whales in the bay enjoy showing off for tourists, throwing aerial acrobatics and travelling in groups. We don’t see whales on our tours, as they are so near to Saint John. You might, however, spot a whale if you head a little further out of town, by land or sea!
As we mentioned, 12 distinct species of whales that are known to visit the Bay. The most common among these and most spotted by tourists are the Minke, Humpback, Finback, and North Atlantic Right Whales. Humpback whales especially enjoy putting on a show for the tourists who visit the Atlantic Region of Canada. They breach, or jump, up out of the water and will sometimes approach whale-watching ships with their eyes poking out of the water. Although a much less frequent visitor, the famous Orca Killer Whale has also been known to visit the Bay. They are not a confirmed annual inhabitant but they have certainly passed through over the years.
Beyond whales, the Bay of Fundy is home to many other aquatic mammals. Harbour porpoises are the smallest Cetaceans in the Bay at 1.5 – 2 meters (4 – 6 feet) in length. Locals call these aquatic friends, “puffing pigs” for the snorting noise that they make when they come to the surface of the water for air. On any See Sight JetBoats Tour, you are likely to see Grey or Harbour Seals. These behemoths lounge lazily on the docks and rocks around the Bay. They have cute faces and appear to spend their time cuddling and sunbathing. Yet, at an impressive 200 or 800 lbs (90 or 350 kg) weight, we wouldn’t recommend you get too close, they can still be dangerous. Finally, the Bay is home to one of the most intelligent sea creatures, dolphins – white-sided dolphins, to be specific. These docile, social animals often travel in large pods. With a bit of luck, you just might get to spot them making their way across the Bay of Fundy.
Moving down the food chain from these impressive mammals you find a rich variety of saltwater and freshwater fish. All are important to this region of Canada for a variety of reasons. The top of this list includes Atlantic salmon, herring, and cod. The existence of these fish in the Bay is valuable both to the ecological systems at work in and around the Bay and the economy of Atlantic Canada. Salmon help carry nutrients from the saltwater and diverse Bay habitat up local streams and rivers. Unfortunately, in recent decades they have been heavily impacted by industrialization and their numbers have seen a dramatic decrease. Local river protection groups are working to clean up the waterways and restore the salmon population to its former glory.
Herrings are one of the most abundant fish species in the region. They travel in huge schools that can be up to multiple kilometres in size! This makes them an important food source for some of the larger fish and mammals in the Bay, including whales. They are also used in Canadian agriculture and industry. There are 21 species of cod found in Canada. Besides adding important species diversity to the Bay, cod is a valuable factor in Canada’s economy.
Despite the worldwide economic importance of cod, it is not the most critical fishery product out of the Bay. The Bay of Fundy’s two big money makers are lobster and scallops. These delicacies, along with other Fundy natives make the Bay’s fishery the most profitable in all Canada. Fishing is an important industry in Canada. In the 21st century, it will be important to find methods to keep this industry alive, while protecting ecological integrity!
If you want to learn more about who lives in the Bay and get a guaranteed opportunity to see them up close, we recommend a trip to the Fundy Aquarium. Located in St. Andrew’s, to the south of Saint John near the US border. The helpful aquarium staff will be able to answer all your questions about whales and saltwater fish in Canada!