The Bay of Fundy (French: Baie de Fundy) is a bay on the Atlantic coast of North America, on the northeast end of the Gulf of Maine between the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, with a small portion touching the U.S. state of Maine. The Bay of Fundy is known for its high tidal range and the bay is contested as having the highest vertical tidal range in the world with Ungava Bay in northern Quebec and The Severn Estuary in the UK. The name "Fundy" is thought to date back to the 16th century when the Portuguese referred to the bay as "Rio Fundo" or "deep river".
The bay was also named Baie Française (French Bay) by explorer/cartographer Samuel de Champlain during a 1604 expedition led by Pierre Dugua, Sieur de Monts which resulted in a failed settlement attempt on St. Croix Island.
Portions of the Bay of Fundy, Shepody Bay and Minas Basin, form one of six Canadian sites in the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network, and is classified as a Hemespheric site. It is owned by the provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and the Canadian Wildlife Service, and is managed in conjunction with Ducks Unlimited Canada and the Nature Conservancy of Canada.
Folklore in the Mi'kmaq First Nation claims that the tides in the Bay of Fundy 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 inner shore and back is practically the same as the time from one high tide to the next. During the 12.4 hour tidal period, 115 billion tonnes of water flow in and out of the bay.
The quest for world tidal dominance has led to a rivalry between the Minas Basin in the Bay of Fundy and the Leaf Basin in Ungava Bay, over which body of water lays claim to the highest tides in the world, with supporters in each region claiming the record.
The Canadian Hydrographic Service finally declared it a statistical tie, with measurements of a 16.8 metre tidal range in Leaf Basin for Ungava Bay and 17 metres at Burntcoat Head for the Bay of Fundy. 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 metres resulted from the combination of high winds, abnormally low atmospheric pressure, and a spring tide.
Leaf Basin has only been measured in recent years, whereas the Fundy system has been measured for many decades. Tidal experts note that Leaf Basin is consistently higher on average tides than Minas Basin; however, the highest recorded tidal ranges ever measured are at Burntcoat Head and result from spring tides measured at the peak of the tidal cycle every 18 years.
Several proposals to build tidal harnesses for electrical power generation have been put forward in recent decades. Such proposals have mainly involved building barrages which effectively dam off a smaller arm of the bay and extract power from water flowing through them.
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