Fundy Baykeepers


Special Series: Twelve Canadians

On Patrol

By David Kattenburg

I was born on Long Island. Grew up there. On summer days we’d pack up our picnic gear and head for the Sound, a huge, beautiful, typically calm body of water on the island’s north shore — the opposite side from the wild, open Atlantic.

All that exposure to Long Island and its two shores imbued in me a love for the sea, and for the calmer side of sea-swept peninsulas. Such is the Bay of Fundy, on the north shore of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia (the most northern of the series of inlets along the Atlantic seaboard from Chesapeake and Delaware Bays to Long Island Sound and Cape Cod).


The Bay of Fundy is one of planet Earth’s enduring wonders. Everyone’s heard of her amazing, 40-plus-foot tides, up in the Minas Basin and Shepody Bay, and those astonishing tidal bores that used to sweep up the Petitcodiac (sadly diminished, following the construction of various tide control structures, but now restored to surfers, as can be read here and here and here.

But the Bay of Fundy is a biological tour de force as well. At least it once was; a feeding ground for whales of all sorts; dolphins; vast fish stocks; endless species of invertebrates. Also a thing of the past, as Janice Harvey, Inka Milewski and Matt Abbott explain in this audio piece.

Though, perhaps not. Matt has good news to share about the newly abundant alewife population of the St. Croix River, following the removal of water control structures.

Matt patrols the waters of Passamaquoddy Bay, tucked into the outer, northwestern corner of the Fundy, on the edge of the Gulf of Maine, on behalf of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick. His job: keep an eye on salmon farms, fish trash out of the water, and cultivate community along these beautiful shores.

Matt Abbott agreed to take me out on the Fundy Baykeeper. On the grey but otherwise fine July morning we’d chosen for our trip, it suddenly seemed like our plans would come to naught. The Baykeeper’s engine sputtered and choked, but would not start. Intrepid guy that he is, Matt knew just who to call in to save our day.

I can’t recall the name of the motor mechanic in this picture, but he sure knew his business. Before too long, Matt and I were motoring out on Passamaquoddy Bay.

Twelve Canadians is a multimedia series about women and men who’ve been devoting their lives to social, economic or environmental justice, and to the healthy development of Canadian communities and the world. Each episode examines a specific issue or situation, through the voices of people who’ve been active in that area. Lots more than just twelve. Thanks to the Social Justice Fund of the Canadian Autoworkers Union for their generous support. Thanks as well to CKUW, University of Winnipeg Radio.

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