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Bay of Fundy
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Bay of Fundy

The Bay of Fundy is a bay located on the Atlantic coast of Canada, on the north end of the Gulf of Maine between the provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The name "Fundy" is thought to date back to the 16th century when the Portuguese referred to the bay as "Rio Fondo" or "deep river"

The bay is famously known for its high tides. The claim that has resulted in a long-simmering rivalry between Minas Bay in the Bay of Fundy and Leaf Basin in Ungava Bay in Nunavik, in Arctic Quebec, over which one has the highest tides. The Canadian Hydrographic Service finally declared it a tie, at approximately 17 metres. [1]

Mi'kmaq folklore declares that the tides are caused by a giant whale splashing in the water. Oceanographers attribute it to tidal resonance resulting from a coincidence of timing: the time it takes a large wave to go from the mouth of the bay to the opposite end and back is the same as the time from one high tide to the next.

The bay receives the waters of several major rivers including the Saint John River and the St. Croix River (Maine-New Brunswick). The largest city of the bay is Saint John, New Brunswick, located at the mouth of the Saint John River. The enormous tidal swings in the bay cause the Saint John River to reverse its flow at the Reversing Falls diurnally near its mouth.

The bay essentially bifurcates at its northeast end splitting into Chignecto Bay to the north and the Minas Channel to the south, with extends through Minas Bay into Cobequid Bay. The city of Truro, Nova Scotia is located on the Salmon River at the end of Cobequid Bay. The rush of extreme tides into Cobequid Bay and up the Salmon River at Truro result in the most notable examples of tidal bores on earth.

The bay is traversed by passenger and automobile ferry from Saint John, New Brunswick to Digby, Nova Scotia.

Several proposals to construct tidal harnesses to generate electrical power have been put forward. Such proposals have mainly involved building barrages which effectively dam off a smaller arm of the bay and extract power from water flow across them. One such facitility exists, an 18 megawatt facility at Annapolis Royal, but larger facilities have been held back by a number of factors, including environmental concerns. Damming a large arm of the Bay of Fundy would have significant and not well-understood effects both within the dammed bay itself and in the surrounding regions. Intertidal habitats would be drastically affected, for example, and a facility would bring the bay closer to resonance, increasing tidal range over a very large area - an increase in tidal range of 20 cm (from approximately 1 m) would be expected in coastal sites in Maine, possibly leading to flooding.