The Fundy Aquarium Ecozone is situated where the mouth of
the Bay of Fundy meets the Gulf of Maine in the Atlantic Ocean.
Upwelling deep ocean water generated from tides surging into
the Bay of Fundy fosters an ideal environment for marine life.
Great whales, porpoises, dolphins, seals, and seabirds are
highlights of this “aquarium without walls.” Environmentally
sensitive coastal whale-watch tours are a unique and exhilarating
way to explore this incredible ecosystem.
How to See the Whales
Many companies offer whale-watching
boat tours in the Fundy Aquarium Ecozone. Tours are available
from May until October
and usually take three to four hours. Whale-watch operators
are based primarily out of Digby Neck and Islands, St. Andrews,
Grand Manan Island and Deer Island. Whale-watching tours
are available on refitted fishing boats, sailing vessels, and
Bay of Fundy whale-watch operators have developed a Code of
Ethics to govern how they interact with the whales because
the Bay of Fundy is an important feeding area for some extremely
rare species (such as the Right whale). This Code of Ethics
ensures that whale-watching boats don’t crowd or harass
By requirement, all Bay
of Fundy Recommended Experience whale-watch
companies meet or exceed the high standards of the whale watching
Code of Ethics.
Humpback whale “waves” with its pectoral fin
Right whale tail
in the Bay of Fundy
The Humpback Whale
The Humpback whale is the most common large whale in the Bay
of Fundy. Humpbacks grow to be about 16 m (52 ft) long and
weigh up to 36 tonnes. These slow-swimming whales are sometimes
seen playfully breaching or lunging out of the water. Humpbacks
have different markings along their pectoral fins and flukes
(tails), so each whale is easily identifiable. These baleen
whales feed on plankton such as krill (tiny shrimp) and small
fish such as herring. Baleen whales scoop up mouthfuls of water
and filter the food through their baleen “strainers”.
An average Humpback will eat two tonnes (5,000 lbs) of plankton
and small fish each day and live up to 77 years.
Humpbacks are commonly seen in the Bay of Fundy. At any one
time during the summer, 100 Humpbacks may be found in the Fundy
Aquarium Ecozone. Humpbacks are famous for being “singing
whales” —their exotic songs are thought to be a
means of communication. These migratory whales travel to food-rich
northern waters such as the Bay of Fundy for the summer and
return to warm tropical waters each winter to reproduce.
The Finback Whale
The Finback whale, the second largest animal on earth, can
be up to 24 m (80 ft) long, which is just short of the Blue
whale. Their long stream-lined bodies makes them fast swimmers
they’ve been known to travel 40 km/h (25 mi./h). They
weigh an average of 73 tonnes. Finback whales are not as numerous
in the Bay of Fundy as Humpbacks, but they sometimes arrive
early in the season (late May) and stay until late fall.
Finbacks can live up to 100 years. Like Humpbacks and Right
whales, Finbacks are baleen whales that feed on krill and small
fish such as herring. Finbacks tend to travel in groups or “pods,” but
they are often seen alone or as a mother-and-calf pair early
in the Bay of Fundy’s season.
The North Atlantic Right Whale
Only 300 North Atlantic Right whales are currently in existence
because they were nearly hunted to extinction in the 1800s.
Although Right whales have been a protected species since 1930,
extinction remains a threat for the world’s most rare
whale. Eighteenth century whalers named them “Right whales” because
these easy-to-catch whales that floated when killed were the “right” ones
Right whales, which are found only in the North Atlantic,
come to the Bay of Fundy to feed, mate, and raise their young.
These baleen whales are attracted to the abundant food in the
Bay of Fundy and the Gulf of Maine. Although few in number,
Right whales still come together as a community, which may
be important in helping young whales find mates. Right whales
grow up to 15 m (50 ft) in length and weigh approximately 45
The Minke Whale
Minke whales, the smallest baleen whale, are normally nine
m (30 ft) in length and weigh about nine tonnes, and they live
up to 50 years. Although Minke whales are relatively small,
they can make amazingly loud sounds. Their underwater communication
has been measured at 152 decibels, which is equivalent to the
sound of a jet taking off! Minke whales can also make loud
noises through their blowholes; they like to swim close to
land, and their breathing can sometimes be heard from shore.
are much more common than the larger whales, but they seem
to be shy and are often seen alone. There are an estimated
8,000 Minke whales worldwide. Minke whales normally occupy
the Bay of Fundy from May until late fall. While they are
safe in the Bay of Fundy, countries such as Norway and Japan
hunt for them in other parts of the world.
The White-Sided Dolphin
White-Sided dolphins are often seen riding the bow waves of
Passamaquoddy ferries! These small marine mammals sometimes
frolic alongside whales and vessels. These dolphins are common
along the eastern seaboard and are normally encountered during
the summer in the Bay of Fundy. White-Sided dolphins are usually
seen in small groups but sometimes travel in groups of up to
100. Dolphins are quite agile and often leap playfully out
of the water.
The Harbour Porpoise
Harbour porpoises are common in the Bay of Fundy. These marine
mammals are not as agile as dolphins and move by “rolling” slowly
forward in the water. Porpoises tend to travel in small groups
of two to five animals.