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Dumb question about the tides.

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Dumb question about the tides.

This is sort of a stupid question. Remember I have never lived anywhere close to the ocean so the subject of tides is very foreign to me. That said, here is my question. What does it mean to view the tides? How long does it take? Do you have to be viewing right when the time table says it's highest or should you be watching the rise? I warned you this was dumb. I just don't want to miss the experience by not knowing what I should be expecting.


Montreal, Canada
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1. Re: Dumb question about the tides.

This isn't a silly question at all...I am in the same boat and would love an answer as well!


Nova Scotia
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2. Re: Dumb question about the tides.

Hope this helps.....



Advocate Harbour...
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3. Re: Dumb question about the tides.

Natural questions about a little known natural phenomenon. The tides are of course on all ocean waters - what is special in Nova Scotia is the largest tides on this planet of the Bay of Fundy. Where on the Atlantic shore they may be around 5-6 ft, on the Bay of Fundy they reach up to 45 feet, with the highest recorded over 50 feet. That is the difference between the low and the high tide. The tides for a particular spot are different each day, not only in the times, but in the height. So you need to know the tide timings for the specific spot you want to see them. For the most dramatic effects of the tides it is also best on large tide days, a few days after the full and new moons. But on the Bay of Fundy even small tide days are huge compared to the tides on most ocean waters!

The tides themselves aren't what is so interesting - lets face it, watching water go up and down isn't the most exciting thing to do. Its what those tides do to the environment they interact with. In some places, like on the Shubenacadie River, they create a tidal bore - a small wave that moves upriver, over and against the existing river current. It is a small wave and many rightfully call it a "bore" to watch. But it is a huge volume of water, and thats what makes the river rafting such a fun roller coaster ride - when that water flows over the changing bottom and collides with points that jut out into the river such as at Anthony's Nose they cause very confused and standing waves - lots of wet and muddy fun as the motorized rafts push into the waves - if you are into that.

Then at places like Cape d'Or and Cape Chignecto, where the towering cliffs of the Avalon highlands meet the huge tides, it erodes the coast by differential erosion, where the soft rock erodes faster than the hard into this fascinating coast of towering rock spires, caves and arches, creating attractions like the legendary Three Sisters. It also creates tidal rips , where tidal currents meet and clash at places like Cape d'Or for its Dory Rips, which you can drive to - or Cape Split, where you can hike into.

For the vertical height difference there are places like Halls Harbour and Advocate Harbour where you can see the fishing boats that rise to the top of the wharf at high and settle on the ocean floor at low. Advocate Harbour is excellent for this effect as it is one of the largest tidal harbours in the world, which goes completely empty at low, so over a kilometer out, dissapearing beyond the outer barrier beach. Then a couple of hours before high it starts to fill the harbour - so it does it quickly as the steep outer beach holds it out until the final two hours. Great place for time lapse photography!

So as it is all about timing, for an example lets take July 4th at Advocate Harbour. Its a big tide day, called a spring tide, with a low at 6:50am. If you got to Cape d'Or, just up the road, at around 10am, the meeting of three major tidal currents will be meeting and clashing creating the Dory Rips. You could wander about and take photos, walk the cliff top trails, enjoy the incredible scenery and lighthouse, perhaps go have a lunch at the lightkeepers kitchen, overlooking the tidal rips.

Around 12 - 1 pm head for Advocate Harbour, around 10 minutes away and check out the colourful fishing boats at the top of the wharf. At the wharf if you get there early enough you could have a chat with the fisherman - who can only leave the harbour when there is water in the harbour, or come back to it. That means they often work through the night, if thats what the tide dictates.

After seeing the high at the wharf, taking those photos, head to Cape Chignecto and do the easy walks at Eatonville, overlooking the dramatic coastline carved into a amazing geological wonderland. If you get back to the harbour around 6 - 7pm you will be amazed to see the fishing boats not only on the ocean bottom - but no water as far as you can see in the huge harbour. Walk across the street for some of the best food in Nova Scotia at the Wild Caraway still overlooking the tides. Its a taste of Nova Scotia you will never forget! If you want to continue the tidal experrience you can stay at on the beach places like the Driftwood Park Retreat. The next morning at around 7:30 am go out on your deck overlooking the tides and check out the low tide. By 2pm it will have moved 36 vertical feet up the beach.

So, it isn't a question of viewing it at any certain stage, you need to be in the right place, where that tide interacts the most dramatically with its surrounding environment. Places like mud flats where it goes out for several kilometers aren't the best places for that as it is going to be a boring wait of 6 hours, which is roughly the time it takes to go from the high to the low or low to high. The Cape Chignecto/Cape d'Or area of the upper Bay of Fundy is mud free, just colourful cobble or red sand beaches ending at cliffs. You want to get to places where you can really see what a flow of water that equals the flow of all the rivers in the worlds combined, a weight of water that actually tilts Nova Scotia slightly as it flows in each day! No place around the bay combines all the effects of the tides in one place as the Cape Chignecto/Cape d'Or shores of the Bay of Fundy.

Syracuse, NY
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4. Re: Dumb question about the tides.

Very interesting and helpful to have the tide times and heights for different localities. Thank you!

Edited: 9:00 am, May 18, 2012
Nova Scotia
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5. Re: Dumb question about the tides.

Those of us who grew up with the tides take them for granted, but they are interesting and their power is amazing.

kayakdover gave a great explanation.




Vancouver, Canada
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6. Re: Dumb question about the tides.

That is the best geological and local cultural lesson I have ever read on the tides of the B of F. Thank you so much kayakdover for taking the time to post such a rich comment.

Delray Beach...
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7. Re: Dumb question about the tides.

I did the Cape Split hike and it is a long one, so be prepared with comfortable shoes and water. Also there are places off the trail that may be dangerous and when I went, there were warning signs. Not sure if it is the same way since I went years ago.

New Minas, Canada
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8. Re: Dumb question about the tides.

Very good information that you have received. Here is a couple more websites for you to browse through.



And there is no such thing as a "dumb question"!

If I don't know something, I don't hesitate to ask someone.

Kentville, Canada
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9. Re: Dumb question about the tides.

I too initially wondered about them until I moved to Nova Scotia.

Here's two aspects of tide watching that caught my eye.

1. Seeing an area at low tide and again at high tide (without watching the tide come in and go out). Quite a contrast (in Annapolis Royal and Digby, comes to mind).

In Wolfville theres a pavillion/park viewing area with channels that the water is coing in. There's a couple little "islands" that birds sit on. As the tide comes in and raises the water level one by one these islands are covered, and its interesting watching the birds go from one thats being covered to one thats still got more time to go.

Am sure many more (even better) examples can be given, but just wanted to say, watching the tide is fascinating stuff.

10. Re: Dumb question about the tides.

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