In May 2011, after four years of life on McNutt's Island, we moved to Montreal. This blog remains, though, as a (sort of) daily record of our time on the island, and a winding path for anyone who would like to meander about among its magical places. For additional perspectives and insights I recommend Greg's book, Island Year: Finding Nova Scotia (2010), and my Bowl of Light (2012). I'll continue to post once in a while. If you do want to read this blog, one option would be to begin at the beginning of it (which is, as we all know, in blog-world, at the end), and read forward, concluding with the most recent entry. It's a journal, really, so it does makes more sense if you read it that way. But, you know, read it any way you like.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

On the edge of the Gulf of Maine

We are just beyond the edge of the Gulf of Maine, which officially ends at Cape Sable.  But something as huge as the Gulf of Maine doesn't stop at a boundary line. McNutt's Island, with its glacier-scraped rocky shores, its bogs and boulders and marshes and forests, its beds of rockweed and Irish moss, its eagles, ospreys, great blue herons and cormorants and its colony of seals, shares the habitat of the Gulf of Maine

And the waters beyond the island are swayed by the powerful tides that define the region. One friend who fishes longline in summer and fall, when it isn't lobster season here, says he and his crew usually don't go out during the week of the full moon. The tides can be so strong then that fishing becomes unproductive.  I wonder at that. Imagine your practical, daily life affected so directly by the tides of the ocean and the phases of the moon.  

The great power of the underwater ebb and flow, the churning back and forth, makes the Gulf of Maine one of the most productive marine life areas in the world. It's actually a sea, mostly enclosed by underwater banks and elevations, with a deep channel that allows the waters of the Atlantic to rush in toward the Bay of Fundy and then pour out again, so that the waters are continually renewed.  There's a gyre, too, an ocean current that flows counter-clockwise and constantly stirs everything within the nutrient rich soup pot that is the gulf.  A gyre can be a good thing, in spite of what W.B.Yeats implied.   

On the surface -- if you are sailing across it, say, on the ferry from Maine to Yarmouth -- the Gulf of Maine appears to be all horizontal. The view is undifferentiated waves, as far as your eye can see. Nothing is happening here, you might think to yourself. And all the while just beneath you is a submerged many-dimensioned world of mountains and plateaus and valleys, sunlit shallows and dark depths, currents swirling and rushing, and secret places not yet known.     

Image courtesy of NOAA


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