Have you ever wondered what it’s like to walk on the ocean floor?
Last week at this time, I was walking on the ocean floor at Hopewell Rocks Provincial Park in New Brunswick on the way home from an epic two-week vacation to Cape Breton with my girlfriends Leslie and Danette.
Hopewell Rocks is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Canada. It is known for its iconic flowerpot rocks and for being located on the Bay of Fundy which has some of the highest tides in the world. Twice a day, the bay fills and empties of a billion tonnes of water during each tide cycle—more than the flow of all the world’s freshwater rivers combined.
The tides rise and fall between 40-50 feet at Hopewell Rocks. The entrance fee to the park is actually good for two days, since many people like to come back to see both low and high tides, or kayak between the rocks during high tide.
We arrived mid-afternoon and descended the massive staircase to the ocean floor. It’s a bit of a strange feeling to know that the rocks and beach you’re strolling on will be completely underwater in a matter of minutes. The tides rise so fast there, they now have park staff monitoring different sections of the beach to make sure stragglers make it back to the stairs to return to the surface in time.
We arrived as the tide was coming in. I stood and watched two exposed rocks to see how long it would take for the water to engulf them. I probably only watched for about five minutes for the rocks to fully disappear—that was how fast the water rose.
I was fascinated by the shape of the rocks, their unique patterns and colouring and the barnacles that covered the rocks like blankets. They were rubbery and uniform and dry to the touch. Some say the flowerpot rocks will eventually crumble, but they’ve lasted for thousands of years so my guess is you still have plenty of time to see them if you plan to visit.
Many visitors don’t take the time to explore the many viewing platforms from up above, but I highly recommend it. When we first arrived, we watched a young deer trying to manoeuvre its way through the vast dark brown sand to the more lush green vegetation on the banks. It struggled to move through the quicksand and seemed disoriented in the loamy soil left from the receding waters. It was still trying to escape to safety when we moved to the next viewing platform.
There we saw a mother peregrine falcon perched on a tree limb stretching out over the Bay’s waters. This was the first time I’ve ever seen a peregrine falcon in the wild. We were very close, so we got a great view of her.
As we were admiring her stately helmet and stature, one of her babies came flying in beside her. They screeched an exchange for a few minutes, then both settled on the limb. One of the park staff later told me there were four babies. Babies often stay in the same area as their family after leaving the nest, flying with them while hunting. The staff member showed me a bunch of photos he had of the falcons on his phone—he said this is one of the first years they’ve had peregrine falcons at the park and the park staff were clearly very proud of their newest residents.
This week’s #HappyAct is to plan a trip to walk on the ocean floor, or visit an iconic park landmark in your area. Happy travels!