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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Posts Tagged ‘whales’

Signature MomentSeptember 2nd, 2009

This time of year is spectacular for wildlife viewing in the Bay of Fundy. Butterflies are careening around the rose bushes outside my window as I write this and I can hear an osprey’s warning cry overhead. Not only are huge pods of Harbour Porpoises circling our groups daily, as if on cue, but whale sightings by paddlers not too far from our base are becoming less and less rare. I was recently assigned to write about Seascape’s “signature moment” for a new program called “Inner Journeys” that we were invited to be a part of by New Brunswick Tourism and Parks. I think wildlife lovers anywhere will enjoy the result.

The Seascape residence and paddle shop look out over Northwest Harbour on the Bay of Fundy, from which the Deer Island kayak trips begin. Twice a day, the water comes right up to the rack where stable fiberglass tandem kayaks are housed, and then several hours later, recedes 26 feet or more, revealing rock formations, seaweed and hardy intertidal invertebrates. Vacationers coming into this environment, with its dramatic tides, have the opportunity to experience a unique ecosystem that supports over 2,000 species of plants and animals.

KATINKA POSTMA WATCHED A FIN WHALE NEAR DEER ISLAND. PHOTO BY FRANK POSTMA.

KATINKA POSTMA WATCHED A FIN WHALE NEAR DEER ISLAND. PHOTO BY FRANK POSTMA.

Launching from the protection of the harbor, paddlers on Seascape’s day trips are certain to see Bald Eagles that nest on many of the Fundy islands, and groups of curious and playful Harbor Seals and Grey Seals. Most of July through September, sea kayakers also encounter vast pods of Harbor Porpoise, listed as a “species of concern” by the Canadian Government; a prime porpoise nursery is nestled at the mouth of the Head Harbour Passage area. And, during much of the summer, Seascape’s ecotourists are also graced with Finback and Minke Whale sightings; endangered Right Whales may also be seen closer to the end of the summer. All these animals are here to feed on copepods, krill and other planktonic species that comprise a complex food web that supports what scientists have identified as one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots.

Because this special marine environment is so diverse, it needs protection. And that’s why Seascape places a strong emphasis on interpretation of the natural and cultural history of the Quoddy Region – and on its current environmental challenges – during every tour. Seascape’s goal is for each guest to leave with an authentic understanding of the interconnectedness of the living things, both human and animal, in this unique marine ecosystem as this is the only way to engage visitors in its future protection.

SEASCAPE CUSTOMERS ARE SURE TO SEA HARBOUR SEALS LIKE THESE SUNNING ON THE ROCKS OR SWIMMING IN THE BAY. PHOTO BY BRUCE SMITH.

SEASCAPE CUSTOMERS ARE SURE TO SEE HARBOUR SEALS LIKE THESE SUNNING ON THE ROCKS OR SWIMMING IN THE BAY. PHOTO BY BRUCE SMITH.

Usually due to a combination of guide interpretation and direct wildlife encounters, at some point during their trip, each visitor has an “Aha!” moment or “Wow!” experience when he or she fully realizes the fragility and preciousness of the ecosystem they are traveling in – and their connectedness to it. This is the signature Seascape moment.

This Wow! or Aha! moment may happen at the very beginning of the trip when a customer delightedly spots a playful seal in the harbor curiously following their kayak. Or when someone notices a fluffy juvenile Bald Eagle screeching from its nest in anticipation of the food its parent is bringing. It can occur when the group of kayaks is suddenly surrounded by large pod of Harbour Porpoise, and everyone is mesmerized by the magical blowing sounds these smallest of the oceanic cetaceans make as they surface briefly to exhale and take in fresh air. It can happen on a clear, sunny day when a client is fortunate enough to see and hear a Fin, Minke or Right Whale blowing at a distance from their kayak. The realization of our human connectedness to the marine environment can also occur during a guide’s interpretive explanation of a herring weir, a traditional method of fishing traced to the ancient Passamaquoddy Tribe that involves catching herring in a trap made from poles, brush and nets. Or it might occur in foggy conditions when a paddler suddenly feels completely a part of this hushed watery world, caught up in the excitement of what might be encountered in the next few moments.

YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE A BIRDER TO GET EXCITED BY THE VISAGE OF A YOUNG BALD EAGLE JUST OFFSHORE. PHOTO BY FRANK POSTMA.

YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE A BIRDER TO GET EXCITED BY THE VISAGE OF A YOUNG BALD EAGLE JUST OFFSHORE. PHOTO BY FRANK POSTMA.

The enticing journey into these special places, the expectancy of unknown beautiful creatures, the trancelike state produced by one’s own rhythmic paddling – this part of the trip often intrigues and fascinates the youngest and oldest of paddlers the most. And it makes them realize that without their kayak, they could not have experienced the natural world around them in such an intimate way.

Frances