What makes the Fundy tides special?
The Bay of Fundy has the highest tides in the world. At its highest point, the tidal range rises and drops over 16 meters (53 feet), with a remarkable ebb and flow of 12-14 meters (40-45 feet) occurring each day across the coast of Fundy National Park. Apart from this record vertical tidal effect, the region’s beaches and coves also showcase a world-renowned horizontal tidal effect, where mudflats at low tide (i.e. intertidal zone) are exposed up to 5 kilometers (3 miles) from shore. These extensive mudflats, along with diverse salt marshes, support millions of migrating shorebirds each summer.
When can I see the Fundy tides?
Visitors to the Fundy coast can expect to see a least one high and one low tide during daylight. Two low tides and two high tides occur approximately every 24 hours in the bay. These are known as semi-diurnal tides, with a little more than 6 hours separating each tide. High and low tides change daily, with peak tides moving ahead approximately 1 hour each day. The timing and height of tides will also vary slightly at different locations around the bay. Please consult the tidal charts.
Where can I best see the Fundy tides?
The tides are most striking at nearby fishing docks in the village of Alma and at Hopewell Rocks just a short drive away. We suggest to first check out the moored boats at the Alma pier during high tide and then return at low tide to see the boats now sitting on the muddy seafloor. Hopewell Rocks is definitely a must, where tidal currents have carved towering outcrops of stunning red sandstone reaching up to 20 meters (70 feet) and topped by evergreens. These rock pillars or sea stacks resemble huge flower pots at low tide and stand as the most recognized icons among many of the Fundy marvels.
Why are the Fundy tides so high?
This extreme phenomenon happens because the bay’s unique natural characteristics and the tidal period work together to create an amplification effect. This amplification is caused in part by the bay’s funnel shape and depth, but more so because of the similar natural frequencies (or intrinsic ‘rhythms’) existing between the bay and the semi-diurnal tides present. The natural frequencies in sync in turn feed upon one another to generate more energy and result in Fundy’s tremendous tides. This phenomenon or reinforcement is called resonance.
What causes high tides?
In general, the forces of gravity that exist between the earth, moon, and sun cause tides. The gravitational pull by the moon and sun affects the entire planet, but only the ocean noticeably succumbs to their forces (as water is more ‘flexible’). So when the moon or sun faces the earth, it creates a water bulge on its facing side, while the earth's rotation (i.e. centrifugal force) makes another bulge on its opposite side. Simply put, where these bulges occur, it's high tide!
How come some tides are higher or lower than others?
Variations in tides are caused mainly by the degree to which the sun and moon’s forces of gravity act in the same direction, and by the varying distance between the moon and earth. Twice each month, during the new moon and the full moon, the gravitational pull of the moon and sun reinforce one another and cause the tides to rise higher and drop more than usual. These are spring tides. During the quarter moon, when the sun, earth, and moon form a right angle, the difference between high and low tide is less than usual. These are neap tides. Every 27.5 days, when the moon is at its closest to earth (perigee), the tidal range increases. When perigean tides coincide with spring tides, extreme tides occur. Conversely, when the moon is at its furthest from earth (apogee), even spring tides are reduced.
How to really enjoy the Bay of Fundy
Take a kayaking or boat tour of the coastline, go beachcombing on one of our beaches at low tide, or visit Alma's scenic fisherman's wharf to watch the lobster boats come in. The combination of rich nutrients and extra cold water temperature in the bay contribute to the quality of our lobster. Everyone knows Bay of Fundy lobster is the very best in the world!