The Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve is a place where you can appreciate an extraordinary, diverse natural landscape, surrounded by the sea, that has shaped and continues to shape local culture. At our core, we have the nationally protected Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site combined with the provincially protected Tobeatic Wildnerness Area, the largest wilderness area in Atlantic Canada.
Referred to as “Kespukwitk” (Land Ends) by the Mi’kmaq people, this is the place where the flowing waters meet the ocean. Immerse yourself in our many lakes and rivers, surrounded by the majestic Acadian forest or escape to the spectacular seacoast.
Our UNESCO Biosphere is home to the highest diversity of reptiles and amphibians east of Ontario and more than 75% of Nova Scotia’s species at risk. The area also has the largest collection of petroglyphs in eastern North America.
The Biosphere has the rugged coast of the Bay of Fundy on one side, which boasts the highest tides in the world, where water rises and falls as much as 50 feet twice a day and is bountiful in sea vegetables and sea life. On the other, a coastline of sandy beaches invite you to explore, hear and feel the crisp Atlantic Ocean and her powerful surf.
The area is teeming with natural and cultural diversity. Our cultural landscape consists of deep-rooted cultures: the original inhabitants, the Mi’kmaq, and settlers including Acadian, United Empire Loyalists and Scottish.
Come, sample and experience our UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Embark on an ocean adventure in search of whales or periwinkles, assist Mother Nature in caring for her species at risk, retrace the footsteps of our Mi`kmaq people, or explore and savour the Biospehere by paddle or foot. You`ll find yourself connecting to the unique cultural and physical landscapes we call home.
Located right along the Bay of Fundy, the Digby area offers expansive coastline with stunning and ever-changing scenery. The Bay of Fundy is recognized nationally and internationally as the world’s most dynamic tidal coastline. The 270 km (170 mile) long ocean bay is home to the highest tides in the world with 54 feet/16 meter tides measured at Burntcoat Head near Wolfville. It is considered one of Canada’s Natural Wonders for good reason.
Digby and its fisherman’s wharf is one of the greatest places to see the vertical effect of the tides.
With a multitude of hiking trails along the coastline the horizontal effect of the tides can be experienced all along the Digby area.
The Digby Area is located in what is called the Fundy Aquarium Eco-Zone. Upwelling deep ocean water generated from tides surging into the Bay of Fundy fosters an ideal environment for marine life. Whales, porpoises, dolphins, seals, and seabirds are highlights of this “aquarium without walls.”
- The tides of the Bay of Fundy are known as semidiurnal. This means that, during a 24 hour period, there will be two highs and two lows. This happens every day. The time between each high and each low is about 6 hours and 13 minutes.
- During a 12 hour tidal period, the Bay of Fundy will have 160 billion tons of water flow in and out of the bay; more than the combined flow of the world’s freshwater rivers!
- The highest water level ever recorded in the Bay of Fundy system occurred at the head of the Minas Basin on the night of October 4–5, 1869 during a tropical cyclone named the “Saxby Gale”. The water level of 21.6 meters (71 feet) resulted from the combination of high winds, abnormally low atmospheric pressure, and a spring tide.
- The Bay of Fundy has a diverse ecosystem and a marine biodiversity comparable to the Amazon rainforest.
- At least eight species of whales are to be found in the Bay of Fundy, including the minke, humpback, fin whale and the endangered North Atlantic Right Whale.
Tides are the periodic rise and fall of the sea caused by the gravitational pull of the moon and the sun on the Earth. Fundy’s tides are the highest in the world because of an unusual combination of factors: resonance and the shape of the bay.
The water in the Bay of Fundy has a natural resonance or rocking motion called seiche. You could compare this to the movement of water in a bathtub. Although the water in a bathtub sloshes from one end to the other and back again in a few seconds, it takes about 13 hours for the water in the bay to rock from the mouth of the bay to the head of the bay and back again.
As the ocean tide rises and floods into the bay every 12 hours and 25 minutes, it reinforces the rocking motion. To imagine this, picture an adult giving a gentle push to a child on a swing. Just a very small push is required to keep the swing moving.
Likewise the seiche in the bay is sustained by the natural resonance of the ocean tides. The bay’s shape and bottom topography are secondary factors contributing to Fundy’s high tides. The bay becomes narrower and shallower — from 130 m (426′) to 40 m (131′) — toward the upper bay, forcing the water higher up onto the shores. (Source: Tides of Fundy by the Fundy Guild at Fundy National Park)