Bay of Fundy in running to be one of world's seven natural wonders

The competition is certainly stiff: Mount Everest, the Great Barrier Reef and the Grand Canyon.

But boosters on both sides of the Bay of Fundy think the waterway - home to the world's highest tides - is worthy of being named one of the new seven natural wonders of the world from among 400 contenders.

"Obviously if we were able to break through to the top seven it would be amazing," says Terri McCulloch, manager of the Bay of Fundy Tourism Partnership - a non-profit group that nominated the Bay.

"But at this stage we'd be pleased to make the short list representing Canada."

McCulloch said there is more to the Bay than just its tides, which can span 16 metres between high and low levels.

For example, there are more species of marine mammals in the Bay of Fundy than anywhere else in Canada, and the area is the summer feeding ground for more than half of North Atlantic's endangered right whale population.

It's also a feeding ground for more than 90 per cent of the world's semipalmated sandpipers during their annual migration.

But to enter the top seven natural wonders, the Bay of Fundy must first win the vote to represent Canada in the competition.

The Bay is up against four Canadian competitors: the Long Point sand spit that juts into Lake Erie - considered one of Canada's most fragile ecosystems; Rocher Percé (the "pierced rock",) a massive limestone stack that rises from the Gulf of St. Lawrence; Alberta's Dinosaur Provincial Park, which is one of the greatest dinosaur fossil beds in the world; and Newfoundland's picturesque Gros Morne National Park.

Niagara Falls is also nominated, but in the international category, meaning it doesn't compete directly against its Canadian cousins.

Voting to determine Canada's nominee is open until Dec. 31. One natural wonder will be selected to represent each country, and then the field will be chopped down to 77, then 21 - and finally - down to seven.

The Bay of Fundy is currently running second to Dinosaur Provincial Park in the Canadian voting.

"If we get the word out, I'm confident we can move up to the top spot," said McCulloch. "Whether we'll make it to the top seven or not - when the competition is this stiff - I don't know. But it's definitely worth participating."

Regardless of the outcome, McCulloch said the process will increase interest in the Bay as a tourist destination.

"It's good exposure for our region," she said. "This is about elevating the Bay of Fundy in the public eye in Canada and internationally."

Over a billion votes are expected to be cast by the time the final seven are chosen next year. The voting site can be accessed through the Bay of Fundy Tourism Partnership's website: www.bayoffundytourism.com.

Published Friday November 7th, 2008 - Telegraph Journal