Photographer David Doubilet was on assignment for National Geographic photographing wildlife in Canada’s Gulf of St. Lawrence when he photographed this colorful and exotic-looking lion’s mane jellyfish in Bonne Bay. The beauty of this creature drifting in the crystal-clear waters underscores what there is to lose as years of overfishing, warming waters, and possible offshore drilling cause concern for the health of the gulf’s ecosystem.
St. Lawrence Coalition Condemns Québec's Push for Oil and Gas Development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence
Québec minister of Energy and Natural Resources, M. Pierre Arcand, as well as minister of Sustainable Development and Environment, M. David Heurtel, have unveiled today Québec’s comprehensive Action Plan on oil and gas. Among other things, this plan aims to continue procedures to open Québec’s part of the Gulf of St. Lawrence to oil exploration. The
St. Lawrence Coalition condemns this favorable bias and this supposed urgency that neglects the fragility of the Gulf as well as the fears of Gulf-wide coastal communities directly concerned.
On one hand, the moratorium on Québec’s part of the Gulf will be maintained for a while but no indication is given as to the modalities of its eventual lifting. Will it be lifted as soon as Fall 2014 when Québec tables its mirror-Act on offshore oil and gas? Will a real public consultation (BAPE) on this major issue be held before lifting the Québec moratorium? Will the concerns of coastal communities be heard?
The Québec government wants to initiate legislative procedures by tabling as soon as Fall 2014 its mirror-Act on offshore oil and gas. It must be understood that this Act has to be modeled on a similar Act tabled simultaneously by the federal government in Ottawa. We hope that Quebec will incorporate in that Act the promised « highest standards » without compromising with the constantly undermined federal standards : • Absolute liability of oil companies should be unlimited, as is the case in Norway or Denmark, and not capped at $1 billion with a ministerial discretion to lower it as proposed by the Harper government; • All exploratory drilling as well as all seismic surveys should be submitted to environmental assessments, and not only the first drilling as is now required by the Harper government; • The current veto of oil companies on environmental and security information, required by the Harper government, should be rejected by Québec in favor of total transparency; • Québec should request independent observers on offshore platforms contrary to federal norm; • The Québec-Newfoundland border issue should be settled before any offshore drilling.
The Québec Action Plans affirms that Newfoundland is on the verge of drilling at Old Harry and that Québec could have all the risks without any of the benefits. It is important to mention that the Old Harry drilling project is still under environmental assessment and Newfoundland is far from having authorized the project.
In addition, the Québec Action Plan only sees the Gulf of St. Lawrence from a Québec perspective. Yet, five provinces share the Gulf of St. Lawrence and any oil exploration, by Québec or any other province, would put its neighbours at risk without them gaining any economic benefit. This interdependency requires openness and dialogue between all Gulf provinces. Québec occupies over 56% of the Gulf surface and the St. Lawrence Coalition strongly encourages the Québec government to assume leadership with its neighbours concerning the management of this unique ecosystem :
• The five Gulf provinces should agree on a Gulf-wide moratorium on oil and gas exploration and development; • The five provinces should put in place, with the federal governement, and independent public review to address the offshore oil issue in the totality of the Gulf.
« The Gulf of St. Lawrence is a unique ecosystem of great fragility, shared by five coastal provinces. As a first step, any lifting of the Québec moratorium should be submitted to a public consultation (BAPE). In addition, Québec should assume leadership in the Gulf and work with its neighbour coastal provinces to implement a Gulf-wide moratorium on oil and gas activities as well as holding a Gulf-wide independent public review » concludes Sylvain Archambault, spokesperson for the St. Lawrence Coalition.
Every year, Arctic sea ice shrinks and grows, reaching its minimum in September and its maximum in February or March. As sea ice nears its maximum, it often begins to form in Canada’s Gulf of St. Lawrence. That’s likely what was happening when the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite acquired this natural-color image on February 11, 2013.
The Earth System Research Lab of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported that surface air temperatures in the region were well below freezing from February 5–12, 2013, although not unusually low for this time of year. Slightly below-normal temperatures prevailed from Nova Scotia northward past Île d’Anticosti, and eastward to the northern tip of Newfoundland—the same areas where sea ice appears in this image.
Young sea ice is typically thin enough to be easily moved by winds and currents, and such ice often takes on serpentine shapes. Delicate swirls of ice are especially noticeable in this image south of Île d’Anticosti. Closer to Prince Edward Island, the ice appears thicker, likely forming in the area thanks to frigid northerly winds. Sea ice is also visible off Newfoundland, but it may have formed to the north and drifted southward along the Labrador coast.
As we were breaking camp Sunday AM, we heard a funny hooting like the beginning of a screech owl’s “ooo” that never got to the low trilling part. We stopped what we were doing to look up, and saw a long-necked bird flying away. Supposing it to (possibly) be a loon, and knowing nothing about loon calls etc, that was our best guess for the critter that made the ululation. It was strange and new and I’m so glad I heard it, even if I’m clueless about what made the noise.
Left the campground around 10:30AM Atlantic time for a leisurely start on our 4-hour trip to the Gaspé Peninsula and National Park in Quebec province. As we pulled out, several of those squirrels got together in the heart of their territory (where we were parked) and did a group happy dance.
Somewhere along the way, crossed the line back into Eastern time, but it took us a bit to figure out what was going on, since Jack started driving at 10:30, and the next time I looked at the clock, it was 9:50.
The ride was beautiful though uneventful. We had eaten Muesli for breakfast, so it was a while before we were hungry again (tasty and lots of fiber), so we stopped in New Richmond for a snack, and we drove the rest of the way, landing at Parc et Mer near Mont-Louie (having gained an hour) at about 2PM.
Took a couple of snaps along the way, because the mountains of Gaspé are quite interesting, and the coast road up along the Gulf of St. Lawrence was spectacular.
We were sandwiched between some big rigs without any privacy, but we were right on the water. As it turned out, this was a great experience for our first at a cheek-by-jowl RV place. Disturbingly, there was a burned out site up near the check in office — the RV that had burned was totally gone, and the corpse of the owner’s car was black and tire-less beside the detritus of the RV. A second RV was worked over pretty well by the (I imagine) incredible heat of the burn, but not reduced to nuts and bolts like the other one. Never found out what happened — really didn’t want to know, frankly.
Anyway, we raised some of our neighbors’ eyebrows when we raised our roof. And then we decided to skip lunch and have an early dinner of grilled lamb sausages in the Merguez style (heavily spiced with cumin, chili pepper and herissa, which gives it its characteristic red color and piquancy), a type of sausage popular in France, and brought west from North Africa and the Middle East. It was delicious, even though we’d not quite realized what we were getting.
Our “beach” and the view from our site at low tide.
Looking out Roomba’s east-facing window.
Then the sun began setting and it was so completely glorious that I had to take many photos. I know you’re going to get tired of them, but there’s not much else to illustrate our Sunday.
When we arrived the tide was most definitely out, but after dinner, as we finished the Camembert and had another sip or three of Port, on our beach-bench in the dark, the tide was fully in. As the light dimmed, we watched the birds perched on the rocks until we couldn’t see them any more. And when we nested, closing all the curtains for sleep, the lapping of the water near our back window (where the head of our bed is) sent us peacefully to sleep with windows wide.
Monday: Awoke to low tide and (relatively speaking) few seagulls on the exposed rocks by our window. Had hoped for a good sunrise, so opened the blackout curtains to the east so we could check it out as it developed without getting out of bed. But there was slight color and the sun actually didn’t rise — cloud cover was extensive enough that there wasn’t much in the way of sunrise.
I got up at 6:30 anyway and headed up the hill for a shower (at a Canadian dollar coin for 5 minutes). But the place is really clean.
Today is Labor Day in both Canada and the US, so the long weekend is winding down, and several people packed up and left before we’d had breakfast. Mont-Louis is rather touristy, but we thought there might be a couple of cafés we would want to visit for frites or a sweet pastry.
As we sat with tea and coffee at our seaside beach-bench with our camp chairs, the rain began. We had been warned by neighbors that it got quite windy, so we had rolled up the awning before turning in last night, and as we never got any of the expected wind, we had unrolled it and set it up again this morning to sit under during the rain.
That was a mistake. As the rain came harder, the wind turned and was coming from the south-southwest — from the land. It felt like someone had a furnace running, the air was that hot. I honestly looked around to see if anything was afire (especially given the fire-related RV tragedy we’d seen at check-in).
In a matter of moments, at around 10A, we went from an outside temperature of 58 degrees to 73 degrees. I’ve never experienced that before. It was amazing.
More amazing still: the mid-day temperatures varied between 88 at the high and 70 — you could feel the wind, which raged from 5 or 10 MPH to probably 40 MPH during the day, blow alternately hot (from landward) to chilly (from seaward). If the sun went behind the clouds, the temps dropped like a bowling ball.
Early on, we had rolled the awning back up (in the rain) to save it from the swirling, gusting wind, and secured it against the roof with the velcro straps intended for that purpose. Later, when the rain stopped and the wind was obviously not going to get any better, we took it completely down, put the grill back in its stowage, moved the picnic table back to where we found it, and packed up the “footprint” we use under the awning to keep our feet cleaner.
Not sure if our neighbors felt like the wind was too tough to bear, or if they were going to be leaving today in any case, but the place was ours except for a single rig several sites upwind of us. We sat and listened to the wind and the surf and the seagulls the entire day. It was very relaxing, except for those gusts of wind that rocked Roomba alarmingly.
The rain held off for us to do some beachcombing, if you can call what’s in front of us a beach, but you had to step carefully, as a gust might knock you unbalanced. One such gust forcibly removed Jack’s glasses.
While we sat on our beach-bench, we both saw one or two whales in the Gulf. Perspective is a funny thing on the sea. We could not tell if they were far away and big, or closer and small. They appeared to be not very big, and there were definite contrasting colors on the upper and lower bodies. We decided they might have been Minke whales, as they definitely had a white-ish underside.
Our wi-fi here at the trailer is good enough that Jack googled whales to find out which one might be found up here, and while orcas could be here, this is not their favored stomping ground. While Minkes can be regularly found here (the photo on the site was one in the Gulf of St. Lawrence), identification is still tricky because, on the other hand, Minkes rarely breach, and we saw these or this one breach at least twice.
We had the windward windows all open, because, when the sun shined, it was very hot inside. We couldn’t put the awning back up to provide shade, and our scuppered neighbors who’s rig was so big it provided needed shade to the southwest of us were gone — so we were opening and closing, venting and not-venting, wiping blown dust off the countertops, etc. all day. Sometimes we felt the ceiling fan set to exhaust was doing okay, and other times, it sounded as if it were straining, and the lid was being buffeted too much for comfort, so we’d shut ‘er down.
Lunch was a Genoa Salami sandwich on ciabatta roll with Havarti cheese and lettuce, and Jack ran up to the “fast food” place in Mont-Louie and grabbed a bag of frites to go with. We ate inside to keep grit from landing on our food.
Around 4PM the forecast rain finally arrived with a vengeance. We had been outside for a while, watching the birds, reading our books, and watching the weather come down all along the Gulf shipping lane, far, far away (we also saw an enormous freighter out there).
So when we could see the rain approaching from the south, we rabbited inside and nested. We have an inside manual fan we can use, but we thought to turn on the fan only on the AC, and that kept it tolerable inside. At about 5PM it was sheeting with rain and we could no longer see the mountain we’ve been taking photos of for two days. The temperature dropped like a stone from 88 to 64 degrees outside, and inside we enjoyed a pleasant 74 degrees. Not a drop of rain hit the leeward side of Roomba. It’s the strangest weather I’ve ever experienced.
So glad we weren’t in a tent. Hoo, boy!
We read our books and played card games on our devices. I did some dishes left over from earlier. Finished a couple of narratives for the blog.
We’ve also been listening to Ken Follett’s Fall of Giants, the first book in his historic trilogy, when we’ve been driving. So we cranked that up and listened to more of that tale for a while. By about 6PM the wind had nearly stopped completely, thank goodness. But the rain continued to fall — at least it wasn’t blowing horizontally.
We started dinner around 6:30P: beef in a red sauce over cheese tortillini. We made up some garlic bread and had a salad with it. Of course, accompanied by red wine. I’m afraid I might get used to living and eating like this …
Early night, not quite so necessary to cocoon for privacy, but the lights in the campground are plentiful, so we judiciously cocooned for comfort, turned off the fan, and went to bed with the temps in the 60s, the wind quieted down, and the rain behaving itself as it should.
We’ll continue our coastal drive in the opposite direction (south) tomorrow, headed to Saint-Jean-Port-Joli, about a five hour drive. Hoping the rain will have ended as forecast when we have to hitch up in the AM.
On the Gulf of St. Lawrence
Sunday, Sept. 6 & Monday, Sept. 7 As we were breaking camp Sunday AM, we heard a funny hooting like the beginning of a screech owl’s “ooo” that never got to the low trilling part.
This high-oblique view of the Gaspe Peninsula and Anticosti Island with sun glint on the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Chaleur Bay, Canada, was photographed by an Expedition 24 crew member on the International Space Station.