From coast to coast to coast!
Of all the countries in the world, which has the longest coastline? It’s Canada! According to the World Resources Institute, Canada’s coastline stretches for 265,523 Km. Not only is that longer than any other country, our coastline touches 3 oceans, a feat that only two other countries in the world can claim. This month’s blog post celebrates Canada’s oceans in honor of the 150th celebration of Canada Day. We'll share some great info about each ocean that we border. The Atlantic, the Pacific and the Arctic.
First up, is the Atlantic Ocean to the East.
One of the most famous spots on the Atlantic coast is the Bay of Fundy. This bay is known for its drastic tidal changes and holds the record for the world’s highest tides at 16 meters (bayoffundy.com). That’s as tall as 3 giraffes standing on top of each other! The height of tides vary depending on location as well as the shape of the coast. The Bay of Fundy is perfectly shaped like a funnel to allow the tides to rise and fall at extreme heights.
Along with the impressive tides of the Atlantic comes some iconic critters! Some fish species have been important for eastern Canadian communities and some funny customs have risen from that. If you have ever visited Newfoundland, you may have seen the classic initiation rites of being “Screeched in” - which involves drinking Newfoundland’s famous Screech rum, and kissing a cod on the mouth! The Atlantic cod population off the coast of Newfoundland famously collapsed 20 years ago and have not yet recovered, an important reminder of the impacts of over-fishing.
Next, to the North and the Arctic Ocean
Canada’s arctic is home to over 36 000 islands, making up the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. These are no tropical islands – the water of the Arctic Ocean hovers around -2˚C to -4˚C. Wait... How can water remain a liquid below 0˚C? Seawater behaves differently than the tap water that you may use to make ice in the freezer. This is because it is full of salt and other minerals, which disrupts its ability to freeze! You may also wonder if animals survive in water so cold? Yes they can! Arctic cod actually produce something called glycoproteins in their tissues, which behave like an antifreeze and stops them from freezing solid when hiding in the ice!
Lastly, we have the ocean to the West. The Pacific Ocean.
The Pacific Northwest is unique for its temperate rainforests as well as its diverse marine life. The cold temperate region from Alaska to conception point has around 640 species of seaweeds and 500 of those are found in British Columbia! This makes up about 4.5 % of all of the marine algal (seaweed) species in the world (raincoast.org). The longest seaweed in the world, Bull kelp (Nereocystis luekeana), is found on the Pacific coast! With stipes often up to 20 meters long and blades close to 10 meters, it's easy to understand how it's the longest seaweed (Harbo, R)! The Pacific coast is also home to the tallest sea anemone in the world. The Giant plumose anemones (Metridium farcinum) can be up to a meter tall (Harbo, R). You often see them while diving attached to rocks and dock pilings.
A unique fish found in the waters of the east Pacific is the Grunt Sculpin (Rhamphocottus richardsonii)! You can often find them hiding in empty giant acorn barnacles, either tail in or tail out (Harbo, R)! Either end works, because each blends in with the barnacle. Its snout looks like a closed barnacle, and its tail look like the feeding arms of the barnacle!
Canada and Canadians are incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by beautiful ocean, especially three that sustain stunning and unique marine life. Fish Eye Project wants to make all oceans more accessible to everyone, so stay tuned and keep an eye on what Fish Eye Project is working on to make that possible!
Happy Canada 150!
Harbo, R. Whelks to Whales