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


Winds of changeOctober 7th, 2009

As always, the busy summer just past is a blur at this time of year. The quiet, peace and solitude have returned to the Bay.

The trees are glowing red and yellow. The cool winds from the north have started to blow across the water. Bonaparte gulls, terns and cormorants have congregated in the harbor to find protection from the open bay and to feed on abundant herring. The marine life has been extraordinary on the bay this summer, a true testament to how special this marine ecosystem is.

imgp1397KAYAKS BEACHED IN FRONT OF A HERRING WEIR, PHOTO BY SANDRA LUKEN

As a part of the community here on Deer Island, I feel it is important to connect with local folks on the working waterfront whenever there is an opportunity. While guiding, I often stop to chat with local fishermen. On one such occasion this summer, I paddled over to a fellow working the weir off Dinner Island. The paddling group was eagerly following the guide in the lead boat, so I made an executive decision to lag behind and strike up a conversation.

“Beautiful day,” says I.

“Shore is,” says he.

Weirs have been the topic of previous blog posts. We always share with our groups that these somewhat haunting structures made from poles, brush and nets are a traditional method for catching herring traced to the ancient Passamaquoddy Tribe. As I bobbed up and down in my kayak on this sunny afternoon, the fisherman shed new light on weir fishing.

“You know, we often get porpoise following fish into these weirs,” he said. I replied that I knew about this and had helped release several harbor porpoise from the Iris weir in the front of Seascape’s base.

porpoise-lift-sarah-wong-photo2

HARBOR PORPOISE BEING RELEASED FROM A WEIR, PHOTO BY SARAH WONG.

“At first this pissed me off, you know,” he continued. “Lots of extra work to get these fellas out of the nets. Then one time I grabbed one innocently by the tail and all of a sudden the porpoise went limp. This made it very easy to release the porpoise from the weir.”

Was the porpoise trusting the fisherman? I wondered.

“You know, then I made an observation,” said the fisherman. “If there were porpoise in the weir, no seals would enter the weir.” Seals will feed indiscriminately in weirs and can damage nets, unlike porpoise, who often find their own way out of the weir. “So I says to myself, ‘Self, why don’t you leave the porpoise in the weir and only help them out if they need it?’ ”

The kayak group was a distance away enjoying an interaction with a pod of porpoise. We made our farewells and I paddled over to join the group.

imgp1391SEASCAPE GUIDE FRANK POSTMA EXPLAINING THE WEIR’S FUNCTION TO A GROUP OF YOUNG PADDLERS, PHOTO BY SANDRA LUKEN.

But I continued to reflect on the conversation I’d just had with the fisherman. Through his vast experience on the water, he had learned an important lesson about coexisting with the many animals that come to the Quoddy region to compete for food. This lesson was a reminder to me that connections on the water are not just about people. If we look beneath the surface, we can see that our connections to marine life are just as vital as our connections to one another.

Seascape has a number of trips left to run this fall from our northern base, but the season is almost over. Fall is settling into the region and the winds have shifted. I will miss the Bay of Fundy as I travel to Costa Rica for the winter. However, I take comfort in knowing that I will be back to assist guests in making meaningful connections to this special place next summer.

Bruce




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