Exploring the Phenomenal Bay of Fundy

The Hopewell Rocks, also called the Flowerpot Rocks, are rock formations caused by tidal erosion in the Bay of Fundy. (Photo: Josef Hanus/Shutterstock)

Nestled between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, Canada, the Bay of Fundy may seem like any other beautiful body of water. It is 170 miles of shoreline marked by rugged cliffs, tidal mud flats and forested hills.

But don't let it fool you. This amazing body of water holds a distinction found on no other place on Earth: It's the highest tidal range in the world!

Tidal chart for the Bay of Fundy
This chart shows the approximate high tides within the Bay of Fundy. Notice how they get larger as the bay narrows. (Photo: NOAA)

Now you may be thinking — what's the big deal about tides? Imagine this: The average tidal range on most bodies of water is around 3 feet. The water goes up a little and down a little and most people don't even notice the change. But in the Bay of Fundy, the difference between high tide and low tide can be as great as 53 feet and that means that entire landscapes are revealed and hidden every 12 hours along the bay.

Coastal caves on the Bay of Fundy
As the tide goes out, new landscapes — like these coastal caves — emerge. (Photo: Jamie Roach/Shutterstock)

Why are the tidal ranges so enormous in the Bay of Fundy? Picture a child swinging on a swing. She makes an arc going back and forth as she is swinging. If you give her a push while she is all the way at the end of that arc (her little feet are dangling right in front of your face and you can just reach her back end), it will propel her to reach a much higher point at the other end of that arc than if you pushed her when she was lower. This is what is happening in the Bay of Fundy. The size of the bay itself combines with the tidal sway from the Atlantic Ocean to create the perfect push and pull of tides. Hence the huge variation between high tide and low tide.

Low tide on the Bay of Fundy
If you saw a boat like this anywhere else in the world, you might think it's in trouble. But this is a typical sight at low tide on the Bay of Fundy. (Photo: Jay Yuan/Shutterstock.com)

In addition to creating amazing sights to behold, the Bay of Fundy's tides also nurture and support an amazing marine ecosystem. At least eight species of whale make their home in the Bay of Fundy at some point during the year, including the minke, humpback, baleen and the endangered northern right whale. The bay is also home to several species of dolphins and seals as well as bald eagles, osprey, and peregrine falcons.

Humpback whale tail
Humpback whales can be spotted in the Bay of Fundy from mid-June to late fall. (Photo: Stephen Meese/Shutterstock)

Oh, and don't forget the lighthouses! More than 60 lighthouses can be spotted along the Bay of Fundy's shores — that's one for every 2-3 miles. These lighthouses are as much as symbol of the bay's past as they are a highlight of its picturesque present.

Brier Island Lighthouse
Western Light on Brier Island is the western-most point in Nova Scotia. It also marks the spot at which Bay of Fundy begins and Gulf of Maine ends. (Photo: Warren Price Photography/Shutterstock)

The Bay of Fundy is a jaw-dropping sight to behold. Just be sure to leave yourself plenty of time so that you can take in all of the lighthouses, wildlife and hidden treasures this amazing body of water has to offer.