Microcosm Goes Canadian!

by Jordan Ewbank

This past fall (2013), Microcosm director Michele Hoffman-Trotter packed up her bags and headed up to Nova Scotia. While the water was a little too chilly to get great underwater diving in, she took to the microscope and camera instead. Her trip took her from Halifax, Nova Scotia, all the way to the Bay of Fundy then back to Chicago. During the trip, she interviewed scientists at Dalhousie University, went on a whale-watching expedition, and witnessed the Grand Manan kelp harvesting in action. Originally, we documented her journeys on the Microcosm website (http://www.microcosmfilm.com/), but wanted to share it with you all through the Sustainability Studies blog, too. This piece is part one of a two-part series entitled “Microcosm goes Canadian.”

Mather Carscallen and Michele Hoffman-Trotter in Nova Scotia, 2013

Firstly, Michele started her trip in Halifax, Nova Scotia at Dalhousie University. If you’ve never been, Halifax is one of our favorite cities for its beauty and extremely kind people. At Dalhousie, Michele met with fisheries scientist Dr. Boris Worm who studies the economy of ecosystems. He generously gave us an interview and talked with Michele about the state of sea surface temperature, and the state is currently in. While in Dalhousie, Michele also met with Mather Carscallen who is creating a startup with the aim to generating algae-based biofuels for the aviation industry.

Peggy's Cove Lighthouse

Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse

As the crew traveled from Halifax towards Grand Manan, they took a bit of a rest in Peggy’s Cove, a little town of less than 50 people. Known for its iconic landmark the Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse, this area also is home to a unique landscape of perfectly smooth granite sheets and boulders. Because of the eroded sooth nature of the granite, water easily flows from the surface of the rock back into the ocean, carrying vital nutrients to feed the plankton in the bay. This in turn provides the basis of what the whales eat whenever they pass through this area!

From Peggy’s Cove, we traveled to the little town of Digby (still small by what we’re used to, but still much larger than Peggy’s Cove with a population of around 2,150 people) to get our first glimpse of the Bay of Fundy. This bay is a United Nations World Heritage site and is considered to be of ‘superlative natural phenomena or an area of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance’ and we couldn’t agree more! The Bay of Fundy has the largest tidal exchange on the planet, meaning the tides rise and fall here with more force and variation than anywhere else on earth. Large scale water movements like this help to move and distribute plankton masses all over the globe, but are most obvious in places like this bay.

High tide on the Bay of Fundy

High tide on the Bay of Fundy

Low tide on the Bay of Fundy

Low tide on the Bay of Fundy

This concludes part one of ‘Microcosm Goes Canadian’, but stay tuned to the Roosevelt Sustainability Blog for the next piece coming early next week! Until then, feel free to check us out on Twitter (handle @microcosmfilm, and on Facebook, too!

Editor’s note: all photos courtesy of Michele Hoffman-Trotter.

Jordan EwbankJordan Ewbank is currently an undergraduate majoring in Sustainability Studies at Roosevelt University and the social media manager for the forthcoming film documentary on marine biodiversity and conservation, Microcosm. At left, Jordan delivers a talk on the Microcosm project at the Spring 2014 SUST Student Symposium at Roosevelt University in Chicago.

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