As wildlife encounters go, Atlantic salmon aren’t exactly the cutest creature you could run into. But coming face-to-face with the endangered fish might produce some of your most memorable stories and help save an indigenous species from extinction.
In recent years, the Inner Bay of Fundy salmon have declined by around 90 per cent. Parks Canada’s new “swim with salmon for science” adventure is part of the ensuing recovery program, meant to increase public awareness of the fish’s plight.
As part of the activity, would-be conservationists hike to a spot on the Upper Salmon River. There, trained biologists teach the group to snorkel with, identify and count the Atlantic salmon around them, and interpreters from the nearby Fort Folly First Nation explain the fish’s historic and cultural significance and some of the challenges the species faces.
When to go
The activity is timed to coincide with the salmon running season in September, so if you’re set on this activity then that’s the brief time space to go. The 2016 scheduled outings are each Tuesday of the month: Sept. 6, Sept. 13, Sept. 20 and Sept. 27.
What to bring
All the water gear (including dry suit and snorkeling mask) is provided by the guides, but you should come prepared to good hiking clothes for the trek in. And as with any backcountry adventure, but especially one near water, it’s never a bad idea to bring extra socks.
Where to stay
Newly available starting in the summer of 2016, you can rent one of two rustic cabins in the woods that overlook the Bay of Fundy. The cozy structures feature two bunk beds and a woodstove, though you must bring matches and sleeping bag. If you yearn for more luxurious accommodations, the Cliffside Suites in nearby Alma offer private suites with magnificent views.
Where to eat and drink
Lunch is provided during the excursion, but you would be remiss not to eat dinner at one of Atlantic Canada’s lobster shacks; at the Alma Lobster Shop you can enjoy fresh cooked lobster while viewing Fundy’s giant tides.
Because of a bottleneck effect, the Bay of Fundy boasts the highest tides in the world.
Read before you go
Six Salmon Rivers and Another, by George Frederick Clarke. This book tells weaves together stories illustrating the author’s lifelong love affair with New Brunswick’s rivers, and tales passed down from salty old backcountry guides, early explorers and fellow fishermen.