The bay in south-eastern Canada is famous for its extraordinary tidal range. Spring tides, a couple of days after the new moon, can reach as much as 16m (53 ft) in Minas Basin, as 100 billion tonnes of water surge towards the head of the bay and beyond into the rivers, causing phenomena such as the tidal bore at Truro in Nova Scotia and the Reserving Falls in the St John River in New Brunswick.
The waters are also very fast moving, as the tide travels 280 km (174 mi) in about six hours, and the currents swirl around the islands and underwater mountains, causing the area of turbulence, small waterspouts and small whirlpools, but if conditions are right, the feature called ‘Old sow’ near the New Brunswick shore of Passamaquoddy Bay can form a single large whirlpool within an area of churning water as much as 76 m (250ft) across. The feature gets its name from the moaning sounds that the rough waters make.
The erosion caused by this mass of water being sucked in and out of the bay for thousands of years has formed a spectacular landscape of cliffs, sea stacks such as the Flower Pot Rocks, and sea caves, in places revealing fossils that have lain here for hundreds of millions of years.
The area is vital for wildlife on land the salt marsh and mudflats provide breeding and feeding areas for waders, and there are also abundant puffins and terns during the breeding season.
The nutrient-rich waters of the bay support billions of plankton and krill, which form the basis of a complex food chain, with crustaceans, seabirds and fish (including basking and mako sharks), seals, porpoises and Atlantic white-sided, bottlenose, saddle-back and striped dolphins. But it is the big cetaceans for which the Bay of Fundy is most famous.
Among frequent visitors here are finback, minke and sei whales, while blue and humpback whales and orca are spotted less often. However, it is the terrifyingly rare and endangered northern right whales that come here in summer that make the Bay of Fundy such a special place for wildlife watching.