By Shelley Cameron-McCarron
In Parrsboro, NS, where Canada’s oldest dinosaurs once roamed, it is now possible to join a museum field crew, get suited up and board a zodiac boat, zipping through the world-renowned Bay of Fundy, to land on a Jurassic beach and help dig into this ancient story.
It’s a premier discovery experience, offered when the tides are right, by the Fundy Geological Museum in Parrsboro, which has developed some exciting new tourism initiatives for those looking to understand and explore the area’s geological secrets.
Fundy Geological Museum director and curator Danielle Serratos says the museum has recently begun offering new experiences to guests that revolve around scientific field work.
“Our primary offer is called Tidal Reveal: Dig For Canada’s Oldest Dinosaurs, and this opportunity allows guests to join our field crew in excavating Canada’s oldest dinosaurs on the beach while being treated to a gourmet lobster lunch.”
Serratos says this Jurassic adventure is reached by a zodiac boat and guests get an amazing tour of the famous and beautiful Bay of Fundy, home to the highest tides in the world, a dreamy coastal landscape of cliffs, sea caves and rock formations, and astounding geological diversity that tells the story of millions of natural history, told through fossils.
Guests on the excursion not only get to assist on an active Jurassic dinosaur dig, they’re treated to a gourmet lobster sandwich picnic on a Jurassic sand beach.
Cast into the past
Along with this experience, Serratos says the museum is also partnering with the nearby Joggins Fossil Cliffs UNESCO World Heritage Site (where the Bay of Fundy again reveals a rich, geological, 300-million-year-old story) to offer Cast into the Past, a full-day adventure that allows guests to help the Fundy Geo Museum research reptiles from 320 million years ago by making molds of their fossil footprints on local beach cliffs.
Serratos says after a morning of science with their curator and a behind-the-scenes tour of the fossil lab, guests travel to Joggins, about a 40-minute drive down the road, where they also get personal tours of the museum and the fossil cliffs there before making casts of local fossils that they take home with them.
Additionally, all spring and through to the fall, the Fundy Geo Museum offers guided tours of fossil and mineral-rich beaches in the Parrsboro area. “These beach tours really bring to life the story our museum exhibits tell,” Serratos says.
What makes this area of the province so unique and rich in fossils?
“Nova Scotia has a complicated geological history, but in regard to the fossils located near Parrsboro, these early Jurassic dinosaurs and reptiles are well preserved due to the environment they lived in 200 million years ago,” Serratos explains.
“Ancient rivers and lakes had basins that dinosaurs died and were buried in that had the perfect conditions for preserving their skeletons and transforming them into fossils. This timeline is unique because it showcases when Canada’s first dinosaurs evolved from reptiles.”
It’s quite a thing to be able to see this story firsthand.
“I’ve seen and experienced how exciting it is to be the first human to discover something no one has ever seen before,” she says.
“There is a powerful connection that can be made between people and the gorgeous land they work in to make these important discoveries. Dinosaurs and other extinct life bring out our curiosity and enable us to use our imaginations in ways that everyday activities usually don’t.”
Serratos says museums and institutions are going to be the best place to see fossils, hands down.
“When people happen upon fossils outside, they are almost always fragmented, scattered, and/or mostly buried. Nova Scotia has very strict laws on fossil collection and you must have a permit to collect fossils. Fortunately for tourists and locals, rock-hounding does not have the same restrictions. Just be sure to research the area you’re interested in looking or contact the museum and we can help you.”
Serratos describes the Fundy Geo Museum as a hidden gem, located off-the-beaten path.
“Our modern exhibits tell a compelling story of the time of Pangea, the supercontinent that united the world’s surface and how it broke apart to the continents we are familiar with today. Because our facility is on the smaller side, we are able to interact with our guests and provide engaging education that larger museums often cannot provide as we do on an individual basis.”
In addition to the marvels to be discovered at the museum, she says the town of Parrsboro itself offers much appeal to visitors, including a downtown scene that is brimming with art and local history.
“We have numerous restaurants, an amazing live theatre, and shops that provide unique gifts that are made from locally sourced goods or art inspired by our beautiful coast. Bed and breakfast accommodations and cottages with fantastic river or coastal views make our guests feel at home while visiting the highest tides in the world.”
Dates and prices for all museum activities mentioned are available on the Fundy Geological Museum website.
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Credit: Tourism Nova Scotia
Intro caption: Exhibits at the Fundy Geological Museum.
Credit: Tourism Nova Scotia