Tuesday, June 25, 2013

There's A Lot of Water Here

Travel Day 12 -- Century Farm Family Campground, St Martins, NB, CA (45.351482, -65.544069)

The Bay of Fundy (French: Baie de Fundy) is a bay on the Atlantic coast of North America, on the northeast end of the Gulf of Maine between the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, with a small portion touching the U.S. state of Maine. Some sources believe the name "Fundy" is a corruption of the French word "Fendu", meaning "split", while others believe it comes from the Portuguese fondo, meaning "funnel".

Nova Scotia is separated from the mainland by the Bay of Fundy and the Gulf of St Lawrence. Nova Scotia is connected to the mainland by a small strip of land that separates the Bay of Fundy from the Gulf of St Lawrence. A good California earthquake could make Nova Scotia an island and merge the Bay of Fundy and the Gulf of St Lawrence.

The Bay of Fundy is known for having the highest tidal range in the world. The Guinness Book of World Records (1975) declared that Burntcoat Head, Nova Scotia (45.310873, -63.807406) has the highest tides in the world with a tidal range of 55.8 ft (17 meters). Whether the name means "split" or "funnel", one can intuitively understand what happens when the Atlantic Ocean tries to push itself into the small space known as The Bay of Fundy.

Alma, New Brunswick at high and low tide (from Wikipedia)

The tides in the Bay of Fundy are semidiurnal. Semidiurnal tides have two highs and two lows each day. The height that the water rises and falls to each day during these tides are about equal. There are approximately six hours and thirteen minutes between each high and low tide. Thus the water rises and falls a total of 223.2 ft (55.8 x 4) per day. That equates to 9.3 feet per hour. That is fast enough to see and certainly fast enough to trap the unwary.

Turbulance produced as a rising tide meets
the downstream flow of a river (from Trish Davis)

As the tide rises and falls it produces tidal currents that push water in or suck water out of fresh water estuaries making rivers actually flow backwards. At high and low tide, the tidal current speed is zero as the water reverses direction. Tidal currents reach maximum speed sometime between high and low tide (not necessarily half way) and produce great turbulence at the mouth of coastal estuaries. Sport fishermen seek out times of greatest tidal current because the turbulence overcomes the ability of bait fish to escape predator fish. Predator fish go into a feeding frenzy in this turbulence. Tidal current data is usually provided as part of the tide tables widely available at marinas, fishing outfitters, and Harbor Master's offices in fishing communities.

Like I said "There's a Lot of Water Here" ... and it moves around a lot.

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