Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

The Bay of Fundy

with 33 comments

The Bay of Fundy, which lies between New Brunswick and western Nova Scotia, is famous for having the world’s greatest difference in sea level between low tide and high tide, as much as 50 ft. With such rapid rising and falling every day, the water can get pretty muddy. That’s apparent in the first photograph, a view looking out from Hopewell Rocks, New Brunswick, a few minutes before noon on June 7. By then the fog over the land across an arm of the Bay was rapidly lifting; soon the clouds had dissipated.

The next morning, in Saint John, New Brunswick, we witnessed a strange phenomenon. People describe rivers as flowing downstream, with the down meaning literally from a higher elevation to a lower one, due to gravity. The Saint John River also flows from greater elevation to lower elevation, but as high tide approaches, the water surging in from the Bay of Fundy rises so much that the river reverses and the water temporarily flows in the direction we would normally call upstream. That’s what you see in the second photograph, where the river was flowing from the left, which is conventionally downstream, to the right, which is conventionally upstream.

Here’s a plaque that tells more about the strange and occasionally deadly phenomenon:

On a lighter note, I can’t resist saying that, photographically speaking, the Bay of Fundy makes for a bay of fun day.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 2, 2018 at 4:33 AM

33 Responses

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  1. A fascinating place. Lovely post.

    Sherry Felix

    July 2, 2018 at 6:50 AM

    • Fascinating indeed. I’d long known about the high tides along the Bay of Fundy but the reversing river was new to me. We were lucky that morning because we didn’t have to wait for the river to flow upstream.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 2, 2018 at 6:58 AM

      • I studied it for “Weather and Climate”, which I used to teach for a short time.

        Sherry Felix

        July 2, 2018 at 10:26 AM

        • Ah, that explains it. The closest I came to a course like that was Earth Science, which we all took in 9th grade way back when.

          Steve Schwartzman

          July 2, 2018 at 10:35 AM

  2. Enjoyed the post about one of my favorite magical places.

    Lynn Somerstein

    July 2, 2018 at 6:56 AM

  3. Fundy-mentally phenomenal.


    July 2, 2018 at 6:59 AM

  4. Your first image has me re-visiting its elements, which is an example of abstraction in nature.


    July 2, 2018 at 8:02 AM

  5. I’d heard of such an upstream phenom, but it was (I think) somewhere along the Amazon River basin south of us. There are people that surf the incoming surge there .. that is waves created by the event are significantly large.

    Beautiful landscape photo, with its pastel colors and soft blue sky.


    July 2, 2018 at 8:10 AM

    • Fortunately it’s easier for us to get to New Brunswick than to the Amazon. In Saint John, at least as far as we could tell, nobody was surfing the incoming tide.

      I first caught a glimpse of the land across the water when the fog was even heavier and more desirable photographically. Unfortunately there was nowhere to pull over and get a good picture of it then. By the time we got to a suitable place 20 minutes later, the fog was lifting. I was happy to get the picture I did, given that within minutes the clouds had dissipated and the view wasn’t so appealing anymore.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 2, 2018 at 8:20 AM

  6. Ouch! ( Bay of fun day)


    July 2, 2018 at 8:52 AM

  7. […] Pat: Bay of Fundy https://portraitsofwildflowers.wordpress.com/2018/07/02/the-bay-of-fundy/#like-38633 One of my favorite blogs because I usually learn something new, especially how to identify […]

  8. This post earned a Bean Pat as blog pick of the day. Check it out at: http://patbean.wordpress.com

    Pat Bean

    July 2, 2018 at 9:56 AM

  9. Indeed!


    July 2, 2018 at 10:08 AM

    • I take it you’re referring to the last sentence in the text. Plenty of people were at Hopewell Rocks that afternoon. Next week I should have a post about the place in its own right.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 2, 2018 at 10:22 AM

  10. I love that first shot


    July 2, 2018 at 4:34 PM

    • I’m happy with it, too. The other picture is what I call informational: it conveys information but isn’t artistic.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 2, 2018 at 5:06 PM

  11. We have one here, not that I have witnessed it even though I did once live close to the River Severn, but much further north! http://www.severn-bore.co.uk/


    July 3, 2018 at 6:41 PM

  12. The whirlpools and eddies in the second photo are interesting, and certainly indicate the power of that moving water. But it’s the first photo that caught and kept my attention. At first I saw only the fog and pastel colors: the landscape seemed spun, like cotton candy. After another look or two, I began to see the river. It seems almost solid in comparison to the rest of the landscape, and makes me a little uneasy. It brought to mind this, from Eliot’s The Dry Salvages:

    “I do not know much about gods; but I think that the river
    Is a strong brown god—sullen, untamed and intractable,
    Patient to some degree, at first recognised as a frontier;
    Useful, untrustworthy, as a conveyor of commerce;
    Then only a problem confronting the builder of bridges.

    “The problem once solved, the brown god is almost forgotten
    By the dwellers in cities—ever, however, implacable.
    Keeping his seasons and rages, destroyer, reminder
    Of what men choose to forget. Unhonoured, unpropitiated
    By worshippers of the machine, but waiting, watching and waiting.”


    July 5, 2018 at 10:33 PM

    • What an excellent match you’ve made. Few people could come up with a poem about a brown river, and an intractable one at that. Even the poem’s mention of a bridge is apt, given that the Reversing Falls Bridge crosses the Saint John River within sight of the place shown in the second photograph, to the left of what you see:


      Steve Schwartzman

      July 6, 2018 at 6:30 AM

  13. […] the recent post entitled “The Bay of Fundy,” the first photograph looked out over the water from a place called Hopewell Rocks. That […]

  14. That is so interesting! Gosh 50ft ..


    July 7, 2018 at 6:09 PM

    • I’d been aware of those huge tides for most of my life, so I was glad I finally made it to the Bay of Fundy.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 7, 2018 at 6:52 PM

  15. 🙂


    July 24, 2018 at 9:15 AM

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