The Roar of the Bay

The Roar of the Bay
The Roar of the Bay

Monday, September 26, 2011

My Last Week of Vacation... (Sept. 3rd till Sept. 11th)

I had picked my last week of vacation during the Labor Day break in September (September 3rd till the 11th) and I had planned a last week of outings, but rather loosely as I wasn't too too sure what I'd wanted to do.  They were all 'what if' or 'if I don't go here, then' kinda situations, and decided to go with the flow and see how the week would span out.

Me and my buddy Craig had talked about heading out to Five Islands sometime during the first weekend I was off to check out the scenery and maybe spot some minerals.  The weather turned out to be gorgeous.  First stop when we reached Parrsboro was the Glooscap Family Restaurant.  There's some really good grub there: turkey sandwich (from whole turkey cooked that same morning) for me; Five Islands clams (some of the best from what we heard) for Craig.  After our lunch we headed out to Five Island Provincial Park.

By the time we reached Five Islands, the tide had just started to turn and rise. We brought some backpacks and a few 'beverages' with us so we could spent some time by Red Head on the sandstone boulders. We spent some time walking up and looking at the basalt cliffs. We found some nice minerals, some bay of fundy agate, lots of quartz, and a nice long vein of pink gypsum.

By the time we decided to head back, there was about less than 4 hours before high tide. On our way back, I remembered that the tides could be tricky and catch people off guard if they weren't paying attention. I thought that we had a solid hour or so before we could have been potentially stuck.

Obviously he wasn't aware of the tides

I was up front and Craig was trailing in the back when I noticed that the water was getting alarmingly close to the basalt rocks. I told Craig to move his arse as quick as he could. By the time I reached the bend where the Old Wife rock layed, the water had pretty much covered the beach. We had to hop rock by rock until at one point I had to walk in water to reach the beach on the other side. I was getting anxious and I could feel the water tug at my feet, the current teasing me. We got on the other side and I sighed in relief. My friend wasn't too worried as he would have been perfectly fine stuck on the other side, relaxing for a few hours.

We made our way back and made two stops before heading out for supper. Our first stop was the Parrsboro Rock & Mineral Shop & Museum. This was an awesome spot. You didn't just have fossils and minerals that you could buy, but the exposition in the museum in the back was awesome! What more can I say? World's smallest dinosaur tracks anyone? =)

Rock and Mineral Shop and Museum, a jewel in itself

After spending a few dollars at Eldon's place, we headed at over at the other mineral place: Tyson's Fine Minerals not too far from there. The owner gave us a tour of his personal collection and his work area. After drooling at some of the pieces, we dished up a few more dollars and left happy with new acquired trinkets.

Later in the week I went for a drive around Dorchester Cape to find a location that my friend Matt written on in one of his papers. The subject of the paper was about trace fossils from the Carboniferous period. The trackways they found were very small, but as of the nature of which animal had made them, this was still in debate.

The location of the tracks they had found a few years ago was somewhere around Johnson Mills. I had parked my car on the side of an untraveled road in a bend and carefully made my way down the loose sandstone rocks by the small bridge.

I won't elaborate too much in this post as I will in another one dedicated to this excursion all by itself at a later date. Suffice to say that I didn't find what I was looking for as I didn't have the right equipment for my search, but I did find many interesting features in the low laying cliffs that stretched towards Cape Maringouin. The potential for me to find trackways were very high, but I was pressed for time. I will have to dedicate some time to come and investigate this area further and properly document my finds, if any.

By Friday I realized that my vacation was coming to an end. I had contacted Craig and wondered if he wanted to go for another walk in the Parrsboro area. We had agreed to go on Friday morning. Come morning my friend Matt had sent me an email with an interesting proposition: to partake in a field trip with Dr. Randy Miller of the New Brunswick Museum. I asked Craig if he would have been up to it and we agreed to pick up Matt and head down south in the Cape Enrage area.

Dr. Randy Miller (left), Matt Stimson (center), and Craig Doucet (right)

We arrived at our destination and saw Dr. Miller's car was parked at the small parking spot by the beach. We caught up with him by the cliffs and began our walk. I'll elaborate a lot more on a blog post I'll dedicate for this weekend as many things happened. To say it quite simply, we found some trackways!

During the walk, Dr. Miller and Matt were discussing the past discoveries made in New Brunswick in regards to fossil tracksway (ichnofossils) and how scarce they are. Sadly I find that in New Brunswick, the interest in Geology, especially in the field of Palaeontology, is very low. Even having North America's only GeoPark, things don't seem to break through, especially if you compare the tourism market in Nova Scotia, where the attractions of that province rely on its natural and geological wonders. New Brunswick has them, but eventually people will need to step up the plate and take things to the next step.

Matt taking a closer look at some trackways

To come back to the trackways we found, there were a few that were worthy of collecting. The fact that in a period of 150 years in New Brunswick, less than a dozen tracksways were officially reported (including ours). These finds were important for the province, and at this point the idea of extracting them had come up.

Dr. Miller had to fly off to Norway for a conference in the next few days, so me and Matt offered to perform the extraction of at least one trackway, two if possible, with the proper permits. The fact that Dr. Miller was the top authority in approving Heritage Permits was the endorsement we needed to have the legality needed to be able to get things going without any major hindrances. We decided to come back on Sunday and decide what to do with the trackways in question. The details will be posted in a later post. We were able to extract not one, but TWO fossil trackways from the cliffs, but with a lot of hard labor. The load would have been too heavy for my car, so we had to leave a large fragment by the beach entrance and come back Monday morning before work (I had a late work shift).

After setting a date for Sunday for me and Matt to try to retrieve those fossil tracks, I decided to make no plans on Saturday. We had a great week with plenty of good weather. That afternoon my brother Don suggested to go for a drive to the Dorchester Cape area to look at the migrating sandpipers. We called some friends over, filled my car and my bro's SUV, and headed South.

My friend Guy collecting seaglass

We stopped at the beach where the new road branches off. I had a few sample bags in the trunk and suggested the guys to snoop around for seaglass for my bro's gf Tammy, who makes very nice jewellery out of. Between all of us, we were able to collect about two full bags of glass, if not more. We didn't find any red or yellow, but we did manage to find some blue and purple glass, and some old pottery. On the way back we stopped at Swiss Chalet where I had the most succulent heavenly piece of chicken ever.

The last day of vacation was gonna be a very busy and hardeous one. I picked up my friend Matt very early in the morning and headed south to the location where we had found the trackways the previous Friday. Keeping it short as I'll just be repeating myself on the other post, the process to get the trackways was freakin hard and painful. By the time we were done bringing most of the fragments to my car, it was 8PM and the Sun had already set.

Monday I got up early and I was feeling the burn. I called Matt and we decided to drive back to the beach and pick up that last trackway fragment. While we were in the area, we decided to go to the Cape Enrage park to meet with Dana (Matt correct me if I'm wrong hehe), the contact at the Cape Enrage Interpretive Centre.

The staff were great and the center is beautiful! They've added a zipline and some new buildings. The restaurant has local dish and recipes, including pheasant pot pie! They did a lot of work in a very short period of time to bring this place up and it shows. We discussed the finds that we had made in the vicinities and showed them the piece we had in the car. We made plans to meet them sometime in the future to see if we could find interesting things in the area, and to say hello.

The trip back was bitter sweet as I dropped Matt at his place, dropped the trackway fragment on the dolly, and drove to work.

That's basically one week, all packed with fun stuff. I thought that this would be it for my trekking adventures for the year, but the weather kept and I managed to squeeze some more of 'em in the weekends that followed. I'll be posting them soon too! Hope you enjoyed my ramblings.


Friday, September 23, 2011

Joggins Vs. Irene (August 31st, 2011)

Hurricane Irene came to the Maritimes as a downgraded tropical storm. Strong winds and lots of rain were forcast but in the end it wasn't as dire as the weather forecasters thought it would be. Knowing that accompanying strong winds and rain, was the inevitable process of extreme erosion due to strong forces. With that in mind, I thought immediately of the cliffs at Joggins.

I couldn't go the day after the storm had done its thing, but I had the Wednesday off, a couple of days after the storm had gone through. The tides would have been low extremely early in the morning, so I decided to leave Moncton at around 6 AM. As soon as I arrived to my destination, the Sun was just peaking out to greet me.

My favorite spot in the Joggins area to search the cliffs is from Lower Cove Road. I take the path down the little bridge that crosses Little River and walk South towards the cliffs. From the bridge its about 100 meters more or less before you reach the first cliffs.

Water receeding as the tide is getting close to its low point.

The rain from Irene did a good number on the cliffs. The rain had battered the cliffs and the loose sediment had started to come down. When I walked near the cliffs, I could see huge piles of loose till and mud at their base. The cliffs had also started to show signs where water had run off and where blocks of sandstone of various size had slid down, leaving drag marks on the soft and wet sediment.

Stigmaria (tree root fossil) with rootlets spreading vertically outward

Cast of a tree with visible features

Although some of those trees might have already been exposed, the rain helped make them prop out of the cliff. The tree specimen on the far right is a good sample that could be identified and studied for possible bone fragments within its core.

[coin added for proportion, bottom left]

[coin added for proportion, bottom left]

[coin added for proportion, center]

This tree like I mentionned before could yield tiny animal bones. When the conditions are right, small animals would seek refuge in hollowed out trees. Trees in the Carboniferous period weren't the same as the trees we know of today, but were more common to club mosses. Their center were more of a fleshy pit and these would create cavities that animals could use as shelter, as do small animals do today. Dawson thought that, when he first found small animal bones in these trees, that they had fallen to their death or such similar situation, but today the feeling is that it could have been a circumstance of immediate environment (ie. forest fire, suffocating, extreme undesirable environment toxic and deadly to the animal, etc).


Bark possibly from Sigillaria tree

The layer of coal can be seen here, showing its shinny underside due to the erosion mostly caused by rain. Littered on the beach were blocks of coal that had broken off from veins similar to this, due to lack of support from the loose sediment that held them in place.

Tree section [coin added for proportion]

Tree sections, foreground and centered on each side [coin added for proportion]

This tree cast is possibly what had held most of the tree segments found littered close to that location. The features that suggest size had been weathered but still offer an idea of its girth (diameter). The roots extending from the bottom of this tree are nice as they offer features in situ that are identifiable. The coin was added for size proportion.

[coin added for proportion]


Trees can be quite big (fraction of what they would have been alive)

This was an interesting find. Laying on the beach I found what I first thought were chopped wood. At closer inspection, come to find out it was a section of a fossilized tree! The colors kinda threw me off from afar. Picking them up to check their weight, they were definitly heavy to lift.

This might have been my last visit to that section of the cliffs for this year. There's still another section south of here along Shulie Road by the old tracks that I didn't get to check for quite a while, and curious to see if there's anything actually exposed at those cliffs. There might be a future visit soon to this site if we can get an Heritage Permit to extract one of the tree segments to study it for bone fragments, if they bare any at all. If that happens, I will keep you guys posted.

Till then, cheers!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sackville, New Brunswick

Last Sunday (September 18th, 2011) I took a trip to the university town of Sackville, New Brunswick. This small town is usually somewhat quiet in the Summer but come September, its buzzing with university students zigzagging the campus pedwalks of Mount Allison University. I like coming here to take pictures, especially in Autumn where the trees are about to change color and the birds make their final stops in the Sackville Waterfowl Park before heading South.

Mount Allison, or Mount A, is one of the top undergraduate universities in the country, and one of the most beautiful. The campus has a feel like a mini version of Cambridge or Harvard in the way it looks. It started as a school in the late 1830s and progressed as a college in the 1860s.

Convocation Hall

Field behind the Wallace McCain Student Centre and Athletic Centre

Here in Sackville is another reason to visit: Sackville's Waterfowl Park. I've come here a few times and its amazing the diversity of birds that either make their home here or are just making a pitstop. September I find is the perfect time to come check the park as the number of residents in the park grows with animals not usually seen year round.

Those dragonflies ain't shy

Visitor resting by the Swan pond

Swans, come to find out, are quite territorial. Ducks beware!


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Updates soon to come...

The past weeks have been very hectic but I managed to not overdue it too much. Well, that could be an understatement come to think of it. At the start of the month of September I was on vacation and had a schedule packed with activity. Coming back from vacation I didn't get the chance to add any new posts, except for some news clip. It shouldn't take too long before I get to add at least half a dozen new posts, but not in chronological order. hehe


P.S. Also wanted to take the time to congratulate my brother and his friend Dan on a job well done on their small movie venture, which has been picked as the gem to start the film festival Cinema on the Bayou in Lafayette, Louisiana sometime in January of 2012. They're being flown down for the week to partake in the activities. Hope they sup on lots of Gumbo!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Dinosaur feathers found in Alberta amber

By Emily Chung, CBC News | Posted: September 15, 2011 10:02 AM MT

Feathers believed to be from dinosaurs have been found beautifully preserved in Alberta amber.

The primitive, hair-like feathers known as protofeathers likely belonged to theropods — dinosaurs similar to tiny Tyrannosaurus rexes — that roamed the swampy forests of Alberta 80 million years ago, said Alexander P. Wolfe, a University of Alberta earth sciences professor who co-authored the research published Thursday in Science.

"Protofeathers aren't known from any modern, existing groups of birds and therefore the most obvious interpretation is that they belong to dinosaurs," he said.

Theropods, which are thought to be closely related to modern birds, were already known to have feathers, based on features surrounding fossils found in China. But a lot of details were lost in the fossilization process.

"The feathers get altered, they get substituted by minerals and you can't see any of the detail," Wolfe said.

Hair vs. feathers

The protofeathers may look very hair-like, but the researchers confirmed they were feathers by looking at them under a microscope, Wolfe said. Hair, found on mammals, has microscopic scales. Feathers, found in birds and dinosaurs, have features called nodes and internodes instead.

"With amber, it's different. We actually have the actual object.… we actually have this protofeather for the first time in the flesh."

The protofeathers don't look like feathers from 
any modern bird, but are similar to those seen 
in fossils of therapods. (Science/AAAS)

The feathers are preserved down to the pigments that show what colour they are and microscopic details of their structure.

Based on the fact that the protofeathers were just single filaments or clumps of filaments, just two centimetres long, the researchers concluded "these had nothing to do with flight," Wolfe said.

Instead, he believes they were used to keep the dinosaurs warm.

The protofeathers were among a wide range of feathers found in Alberta amber specimens by Ryan McKellar, a researcher who recently completed his PhD under Wolfe's supervision. McKellar's research was initially interested in insects, but stumbled upon some very bird-like feathers in the process of sorting through amber from the Royal Tyrell Museum and the University of Alberta's collection, Wolfe said.

He decided to keep an eye out for other feathers. After sorting through around 4,000 chunks of amber, each less than two centimetres in diameter, he had collected a wide range, from the protofeathers to more complex feathers from the same time period that were most certainly from birds.

Some were downy "like the kind you have in your pillow," Wolfe said. Others look like modern flight feathers. Some also had special features found in diving birds such as grebes.

A theropod fossil from China shows bristle-like 
feathers on the head, neck, back and tail. 
However, many of the details have been 
obscured by the fossilization process. 
(Nanjing Institute/Associated Press)

Wolfe, an expert in amber chemistry, said such birds likely shared the same ecosystem as the dinosaurs — a steamy, "very buggy" coastal forest similar to Florida's everglades, dominated by cypress and cedar-like trees. The remains of the forest were compressed into coal deposits in Alberta where the amber samples were found.

Wolfe said now that the new research, including photographs, has been published, he hopes researchers in other parts of the world where feather dinosaur fossils have been found will start keeping an eye out for dinosaur feathers in amber. He also hopes to do a biochemical analysis on the proteins in the feathers.

Originally posted on CBC here | Sep 15, 2011 10:02 AM MT

Additional related article: Discovery News