4.8 The Bay of Fundy and the tides of climate change

1.3 The ecology of the Bay of Fundy and the Bay of Fundy UNESCO site

The ecology of the Bay of Fundy is influenced by its geology, morphology, climate and hydrodynamics. The hydrography of the Bay of Fundy prevents thermal stratification of the water column, which favours nutrient recycling, thus making it a highly productive environment, supporting an extended trophic web ranging from plankton to large marine mammals. The latter include humpback whales, fin whales and North Atlantic Right whales, one of the most threatened species in the world, for which the mouth of the Bay of Fundy is the only known breeding ground (Coastal Adventures, n.d.; CPAWS 2016). The avian biodiversity is particularly important; over a million migratory shorebirds visit the Bay of Fundy, feeding notably on the mud flats around Brier Island and Grand-Manan. Valuable ecosystems include highly productive tidal salt marshes, extended mud flats harboring a large variety of invertebrates, where erosion and friable substrates have created gentle slopes periodically inundated by the tide, and deep-sea corals.

The northern climate is tempered by the presence of a large body of water. Atmospheric temperatures range from -3°C to -6°C in January and +13°C to +19° C in July, while water surface temperatures range from 8°C to 12°C in summer to 0°C to -4°C in winter. Precipitations are situated between 120 cm/year and 150 cm/year. The varied geology and geography of the Bay of Fundy creates certain micro-environments. The forest type mostly transitions between the coastal forest and the richer interior forest. On basalt cliffs, relics of arctic alpine forest can be found. Saltwater marshes with tidal rivers harbour rich deciduous forests. Rocky shores are often covered by seaweeds and algae like dulse, laver, sea lettuce of rockweed .