Bruce in kayak.

"We specialize in small group travel, which minimizes environmental impact, increases safety standards and allows for personalized, enriching and authentic experiences."

— Bruce Smith, founder and owner, Seascape Kayak Tours Inc.

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Client Corner

SEASCAPES – Spring 2010

The newsletter for the SKT community


The summer season on Deer Island, New Brunswick, will get underway in just over a month. You can e-mail us now to begin booking tours for June through August. Most popular are our Full-Day, Half-Day and Sunset Trips (two hours any time) launching from our protected harbor on Deer Island. This year, we are giving away a few free trips via our Facebook page (see details below).


The first week of June is dedicated to our education partners, among them Coastal Livelihoods Trust and Oromocto High School. These full-day trips give local youth groups an introduction to ecotourism and the stewardship of special coastal environments and include beach cleanups on several nearby islands. Next, our annual Staff Training will be held June 14-18. If you are interested in any of our sea kayaking skill-based courses such as Introduction to Sea Kayaking, Sea Kayaking Safety, Coastal Kayaking Leadership or Wilderness First Aid, please get in touch. If your group of three or more would like to schedule a multi-day camping and kayaking trip, send an e-mail now and let us know your preferred dates. Starting June 1 you may also reach us on Deer Island at toll free 866.747.1884. Looking forward to seeing you on the water!


Trips are HOT in Costa Rica

Seascape is currently wrapping up its busiest season in Costa Rica to date, having run ten multi-day trips (two on the Caribbean coast) and dozens of day trips both in Curú Wildlife Refuge and right in front of the Hotel Tambor Tropical, our southern base of operations on the Pacific Coast in the southern Nicoya Peninsula. Company owner and founder Bruce Smith has hardly had a moment to catch his breath, much less reflect, but he wrote a message of reflection for you on Earth Day (see below). Many of our day trips this year were under contract with Tauck, a Connecticut-based tour operator in business since the 1950s. Seascape provides half-day kayak tours marketed to Boomers who are part of Tauck’s Culturious Costa Rica program. Group sizes on the Tauck tours max at 16, but we always divide their tour group in two, taking a maximum of only eight people out at a time. Starting in the fall, Seascape will also provide tours under contract with GAP Adventures. If you would like to paddle with us in Costa Rica, please e-mail us to schedule your trip for November 2010 through May 2011. Spaces are limited.

Join us on Facebook

Did you know that Facebook now has more than 400 million active users, half of which log on to the world’s fastest growing social media hub every day? Seascape is one of the 1.5 million businesses that have active pages on Facebook, and we have more than 750 followers. For those who enjoy seeing the photography that results from each tour, this is a fantastic way to stay tuned in on a daily basis. And for those who want to communicate with us quickly or coordinate trips with other Seascape fans, you are going to love following us on Facebook. Almost daily posts provide detailed information about each of our tours and ecotourism happenings in each destination. Click here to be a part of the Facebook fun – and find out how to win a free trip (details below).


Win a Full-Day Whale Trip for two!

Full-Day kayak experiences launching from Deer Island provide the greatest likelihood of seeing Fin, Minke, Humpback or Right Whales. If you’d like to win a free Full-Day Whale Trip, join us on Facebook today and play FIND 20 FRIENDS FOR FUNDY. Be the first person to suggest our Seascape Kayak Tours Facebook page to 20 of your Facebook friends who actually become Seascape fans (click the LIKE button) and win a FREE FULL-DAY WHALE TRIP FOR 2 on the Bay of Fundy this summer. RULES: Friends who become our fans at your suggestion should make a short and sweet post telling why they love the Bay of Fundy or sharing a story about Fundy Whales and tell us you referred them. Congratulations to Elizabeth Smith of St. John New Brunswick, who won a Sunset Trip For Two April 15. The Full-Day Whale Trip giveaway starts now!

Bruce Smith to speak at Conference


Bruce Smith will speak at The International Ecotourism Society’s 2010 conference in Portland, Oregon, Sept. 8-10. The Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference (ESTC) is North America’s largest conference focusing on sustainability in travel and tourism. Hosted by Travel Portland and Travel Oregon, the ESTC 2010 will bring together 500+ business leaders, tourism professionals and community stakeholders. Bruce will present during a two-hour special session, the Tour Operators Roundtable, highlighting case studies and best practice examples, and discussing triple-bottom-line sustainability in travel and tourism. Bruce’s talk will address the importance of remaining a small company in order to be truly sustainable. “We envision this roundtable session to be interactive and engaging, offering conference participants – including other local, national and international operators – opportunities to learn about economically, environmentally and socially sustainable business strategies,” said Kelly Bricker, TIES Chair and Executive Director. Seascape has been a member of TIES for two years.


Where do you want to paddle in 2011?

Seascape is adding a series of exciting new paddling destinations to its existing quality sea kayaking offerings in New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Costa Rica. Working closely with local operators who share our sustainable tourism philosophy, we will offer the SeaStar Collection, one or two special adventures each year to very unique marine environments that will provide incredible paddling experiences.

The first of these new products was offered on the Sea of Cortez, Baja Mexico, April 9-16, 2010. Baja was selected as the first destination because of Seascape’s close relationship to the region and to a number of excellent outfitters. Bruce Smith has guided and instructed a number of paddling programs in Baja, and offered this adventure in connection with Trudi Angell, the original sea kayak operator in Baja, and Stephanie White, a colleague who has guided in Baja for more than 20 years.


“Paddling the Baja coast is a ‘must-do’ trip for any kayaker, and being able to travel through the area with our Seascape friends greatly enriched the adventure,” said David, a recent trip participant from Kingston, Ontario. “Seascape’s focus on creating an experience that immerses their clients in the wonders of an area’s spectacular natural environment and complex cultural communities formed the core elements of the first SeaStar trip. Challenging ‘push’ days were mixed appropriately with ‘lighter’ days that allowed for exploration and relaxation.  The Seascape guides were superb, the food plentiful and nutritious, and the paddling locale nothing short of awe-inspiring! Looking forward to the next SeaStar adventure!”

Based on our connections and client interest, some other destinations we are presently pursuing are Haida Gwaii, Queen Charlotte Islands, BC, Canada; the Canadian Arctic; the Caribbean coast of Panama, Central America; Chile, Ecuador (Galapagos Islands), The Amazon, South America; Greenland; and Lake Malawi, Africa. Senior Seascape guide Guy Quinn participated in an exploratory trip on Lake Malawi in Africa in January. He will share details from this intriguing destination in the next newsletter. If there are paddling destinations you would like us to look into, please let us know.

What is KaYoga?

“Combining kayaking and yoga is brilliant. The two practices build on each other philosophically, making the whole experience richer than the sum of its parts. And there is a more earthly benefit, too: Because of the yoga, I felt no pain or stiffness at all from the paddling.” 
These, the words of Sharon AvRutick of Pleasantville, New York – a participant in this past January’s El Espiritu del Mar Costa Rica KaYoga trip – pretty much sum up the feelings of most people who’ve tried the combo tours. And the trips are becoming so popular, there are only two spaces left for this summer’s Ebb & Flow KaYoga experience on Deer Island in New Brunswick, where instructor Lauri Nemetz will once again join Seascape staff for the long weekend’s activities.


“Lauri’s yoga instruction is warm and supportive,” says AvRutick. “She also pays an extraordinary amount of attention to each individual, tailoring every pose to each person’s needs and abilities. But her caring doesn’t end when the yoga practice closes. She’s always watching, always caring, always supporting.” Seascape now has an entire page of our web site dedicated to KaYoga.

Tambor Tropical’s greening begins … in Harmony

An important part of Seascape’s Costa Rican operation is our base at the boutique Tambor Tropical hotel. Our partnership is mutually beneficial in that we bring clients to stay in the 12 beautiful teak-wood suites, and the hotel offers our paddling trips to its guests.


As our partnership and friendship at the hotel has grown, Seascape’s owner Bruce Smith has teamed up with owner Mark Nelson and general manager Juan Carloz Cruz to direct the long-term project of greening the hotel. This process will include sustainability initiatives such as recycling, the use of environmentally friendly products, local and organic menu additions, and the integration of more energy-conscious procedures into the hotel’s day-to-day operations.

“Bruce is a true environmentalist,” said Juan Carlos. “In our work with him we have easily established a state of total agreement on preferred environmental practices. We have also reaffirmed that Tambor Tropical has always had a natural orientation towards sustainability, both socially and through forest and water resource protection in our farms.”

As part of a preliminary education process, Bruce, Juan Carlos and Tambor Tropical’s owner Mark Nelson recently toured the Harmony Hotel in Nosara, Costa Rica, to learn about its in-depth sustainability program. The visit was supported by Cayuga Sustainable Hospitality, which manages Harmony and five other renowned ecotourism resorts in Central America.


Harmony is a great example of a green accommodation in that it has permaculture‐inspired landscape design, worm‐powered composting systems, solar panels to heat water, extensive recycling programs and waste management, chlorine‐free pool cleaning systems and organic, vegetarian food offerings. An active presence in the Nosara community, Harmony works with local schools to improve infrastructure and enhance environmental education and responsibility and helps the beach community keep its Blue Flag certification, an eco‐sensitive label that recognizes sustainable beach development through strict criteria for water quality, environmental education and safety.

“During our visit to Harmony and investing time with General Manager Irene Morales, we appreciated the fact that true environmentalists share; they don’t hold back,” said Tambor Tropical’s owner Mark Nelson. “We have had the same experience with Bruce. Tambor Tropical believes that thoughtful environmental practices can be integrated into every business and family.”


Bruce and Seascape will also be involved in a series of environmental education programs at the new Tambor Bay School, a local community collaboration among parents and the hotel to provide a private education alternative for the children of Tambor village. “There is a solid pyramid being formed between Seascape Kayak Tours, Tambor Tropical and Tambor Bay School that will continue to benefit our natural and social surroundings,” said Juan Carlos.

Follow Tambor Tropical’s activities on Facebook.


The ocean is home: reflections on Earth Day, April 22, 2010

Up at 5:00 a.m. to prepare for the last Tauck group trip for the season… A beautiful morning, quiet and the air still fresh. When I have time to reflect, I do realize how blessed I am to be able to paddle for a living.

I arrived in CR in early November and the months and trips have passed quickly. Trips to Tortuguero National Park on the Caribbean side; wet, wild, serpentine canals, laguna nueve, crocodiles, bullet ants, the five o’clock tree, and toucans… Curú and Playa Quesera on the Pacific coast; beautiful white sand, big water around Islas Tortugas, iguanas, howler monkeys, sea turtles and sipping wine under the stars… A family trip that allowed my mother and I to watch many sunrises together… KaYoga: building connections with nature, ourselves and each other… Tauck: amazing people who are willing to try a new adventure and relish the stories that follow…

Seascape’s remaining weeks in Costa Rica will be spent on administrative details, greening initiatives at the Hotel Tambor Tropical, meetings with partners and equipment maintenance. A final full-day trip with clients will run from Curú Wildlife Refuge on May 17. The seasonal transition to Canada and Deer Island will follow. I will trade warm water and palm trees for cold water, spruce and fir. Turtles and monkeys will give way to whales, porpoise and seals. Spanish language skills will be traded for English and French and, of course, the very unique Deer Island dialect.


No matter where I am on this huge Earth, it is being near and in the ocean that makes me feel at home. The consistent theme is that ocean environments are under constant threat from over fishing, climate change, pollution, and senseless greed. As we approach the summer season on the Bay of Fundy, I invite you to come and see firsthand how special and unique the Bay of Fundy marine ecosystem truly is.

Let’s work together to protect our ocean environments as part of our home – and share this message with others. I think that this is what paddling experiences are all about: exploring a new place, meeting new people, finding out about the environment and yourself along the way – and then telling the stories.

Thanks to all of you for sharing.



One of the world’s true wonders remains under threat

By Art MacKay

Hopefully the Bay of Fundy will soon become one of the acknowledged “Seven Wonders of the Natural World,” a title that it truly deserves as one of the most unique ecosystems on the planet. But the future of the Bay, the thousands of marine species that occur here, and the important eco-economy that it supports remains in doubt as Fundy continues to see the development of “Superport Fundy.”


It seems like a blink of time since I started my official career here 46 years ago at my little home corner of this world in the Passamaquoddy area, a place that literally teemed with life along all of its shores and rivers. During that time, I have watched important forage species and the dependent invertebrates, fish, birds, and mammals pushed away from the near-shore by continued and growing pollution and, throughout the Bay, larger species such as the whales continue to compete with growing numbers of ships that feed the port of Saint John while coastal quarries and other developments are an ongoing threat along all of the shores. Others continue to push for heavy industrial development in inappropriate places and it remains to be seen just what the impacts of tidal energy developments will be.

While the Bay of Fundy remains a phenomenal place, there are many areas requiring TLC. Every year, the battle to conserve this important resource becomes more and more balanced as people of conscience, companies like Seascape Kayak Tours in addition to other world-class organizations become focused on protection and restoration in the Bay of Fundy.

Art MacKay, publisher of the popular site I Love Quoddy Wild, is a freelance biologist who has been a teacher, researcher, publisher, consultant, and environmentalist in marine biology and related fields in five countries over the span of nearly 50 years. Read more about Art and the Bay of FundyVote for the Bay of Fundy to be recognized as one of the New 7 Wonders.


You can help preserve the endangered Three-Wattled Bellbird

Imagine visiting a lush green magical forest with tall old-growth trees that seem to be from another place and time. As you wind your way along vine-laden trails through mist that evaporates as sunlight streams down from the canopy, you are mesmerized by an eerie yet lovely soundtrack of high pitched “eeenk” sounds followed by what can only be described as a “metallic bonk” like the amplified plunk of an out of tune piano key. Following the “eeenk; bonk” sounds from one opening in the thick tropical forest to another, you finally spot the enthusiastic vocalist, a beautiful creature with a ghostly white head, neck and shoulders, and a chestnut-brown torso, perched on the very tip of a craggy branch, not too high up in the trees, mouth gaping open to project his territorial call for up to two miles! You are enthralled and enchanted by this new animal sighting. You feel a connection.


But now, imagine you learn that there are only a few groups of these Three-Wattled Bellbirds still in existence in the very special humid forest habitats where their favorite food, the wild avocado, grows. This is because, sadly, much of the tropical forest containing the bird’s food supply has been cut down, in Costa Rica and in other Central American countries. What was once a large area of forest is now only in small fragmented pieces. This news gives you a sense of urgency. You have already made an immediate connection to this bird. Something must be done to save it.

And then you meet Debra Hamilton. Debra is a conservation biologist, a mom, a bird research specialist, owner and manager of a small bookstore and café, the director of the Costa Rican Conservation Foundation – and those are just a few of her titles. She has devoted her life to studying the rare and endangered bird species that make the mystical Monteverde Cloud Forest their home, and is heading up many projects to help save these hauntingly beautiful birds.

Debra has been working in the Monteverde area since 1992. Along with several other scientists, she has studied diversity of understory birds and the use of agricultural windbreaks as biological corridors for birds moving between forest fragments. She is currently involved in a long-term study of the Bellbird, including investigations of migratory patterns, population locations and sizes (which means taking a Bellbird census!), and the possible impact of climate change on Bellbird populations.


Debra and her colleagues know that in order to save the Bellbird from extinction, its remaining habitat must be preserved and protected. So they have begun to focus much of their energy on reforestation projects. In partnership with Terra Incognita Ecotours, Seascape plans to offer a voluntourism experience in Monteverde in 2011 that can be combined with a paddling trip on either coast of Costa Rica, or can be a stand-alone tour. This will allow guests to stay at La Calandria Private Reserve and Lodge and to assist in planting trees that will make a difference to the Bellbird so that its voice will always ring out over the cloud forest canopy.

Please e-mail us if you are interested in joining us in Monteverde later this year or in 2011. Read another article about the bellbird and Debra Hamilton here.

Parting shot


All articles are written by Frances Figart unless otherwise indicated. Photos are by Frances Figart or Bruce Smith when not attributed.