Salamander Night is a time of cheap thrills for the naturalists of Nova Scotia, requiring only a flashlight on the first rainy evening in April over 9°C. Under these conditions several of the province’s amphibians depart their wintering grounds for the ponds in which they’ll soon breed, and no species is more noteworthy in this short, seasonal migration than the Spotted salamander, who, about a decade ago, was caught breaking the rules of biology.
I found my first Ram’s Head Lady Slipper while on hands and knees along an obscure walking trail in Hants County, Nova Scotia, its delicate purple flower, no larger than my fingernail, now the focal point of a groundbreaking lawsuit in the provincial capital.
Bob Swim has fished the waters of Port Mouton 51 years now, and his luck was pretty good until the mid 1990s.
That decade saw the arrival of open pen aquaculture to his home bay, a relatively inoffensive operation with three pens raising fin fish from spring until fall. The picture changed with the arrival of Cooke Aquaculture a few years later, purchasing and expanding this fish farm until Bob and his colleagues noticed a change.
The entire global population of Atlantic whitefish is restricted to a single watershed in southern Nova Scotia, and in the minds of many, even this haven is no longer safe.
I never appreciated the term “natural resources,” precisely because it reduces everything, from individual animals to entire ecosystems, down to dollars and cents. Through the subtle power of language it implies forests contain only wood, and rivers only water, ignoring their ecological complexities or intrinsic values, defining them instead by their human utility. It suggests, to one degree or another, that our regional environment is inanimate, an object worthy of no more legal or moral consideration than a warehouse from which we take regular inventory.
The entire global population of Atlantic whitefish is restricted to a single watershed in southern Nova Scotia, which is as alarming a statement as I am capable.
My kayaking career began not with a paddle, but with a hike, through the splintering trails and crumbling buildings of the York Redoubt National Historic Site, from whose lookouts I admired the entirety of Halifax Harbour. One visit became many as this was the destination of my daily jog, nurturing, over time, my curiosity of a park visible from its peaks, quietly occupying the waters below – McNabs Island.
Marine Protected Areas, or MPAs, are relatively new to Atlantic Canada, arriving in May of 2004 with the establishment of The Gully off Nova Scotia’s eastern shore. Here is a 2,364 square kilometre stretch of ocean under special management for its contributions to coastal ecology, our first such safe-house but far from our last.
The buildup of C02 in our atmosphere is the defining issue of our time, caused by the fundamental workings of our civilization and resulting in the catastrophic warming of our planet. But while our eyes are rightly fixed on this climbing thermometer, another consequence of rising C02 often escapes our gaze.