Machais Seal Island

August 06, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

6L2A5363Machais Seal island catch at seaMachais Seal Island puffin catch at sea

I recently ventured to Grand Manan, New Brunswick with a new photography friend to photograph island life and the puffins of Machais Seal Island in the Bay of Fundy. Despite heavy fog during the ferry crossing to the island, the excitement was building as we anticipated photographing puffins, harbors and lighthouses. The fog remained thick throughout the day and the lighthouses proved to be unlike any 6L2A5271Long Eddy Point Lighthouse, Grand Manan, New BrunswickLong Eddy Point Lighthouse, Grand Manan, New Brunswick we had ever seen. The base structures of the lighthouses were square and the light structure often only consisted of a fog horn that could prove damaging to your eardrums which discouraged you from sticking around for long. This first day provided for a couple of fog filled photos, but little else.

After several trips up and down route 776 on the island, there was not a single photo to be had and the bad news continued with the cancellation of the journey to the Machais Seal Island due to rough seas. Thank goodness my new friend and I 4A6A8287Machais Seal Island puffinMachais Seal Island puffin 6L2A5283Grand Manan, New Brunswick Seal Cove sunriseGrand Manan, New Brunswick Seal Cove sunrise shared a sense of humor a 6L2A5295Machais Seal Island skiff arrivalMachais Seal Island skiff arrival 6L2A5316Machais Seal Island puffin in flightMachais Seal Island puffin in flight nd adventure. Our sense of adventure did lead us into the woods of Grand Manan looking for a lighthouse that it turned out did not exist and to every beach, pond and overlook of which none produced a photo opportunity. We did exit the woods wondering why and how the bags hangin




6L2A55136L2A5513 g from trees deep in the woods filled with beer cans along the way came to be, but that will remain a mystery until we locate a local that can educate us. The day ended with confidence in the fact that we had traveled every inch of the island. All that remained was hope for a visit to the Machais Seal Island the next day.

Our third day on the island we found a sunrise location that was unfortunately lacking in splendor, but we stuck it out to the bitter end like any other hopeful photographer would. The afternoon presented clear skies and calmer seas as the trip to the Machais Seal Island was going forward as scheduled. We landed on the island following a short skiff ride and were oriented to the island which currently contains 8,000 pairs of puffins.The puffins come to the island to raise their young. The pufflings are not visible as they are protected from predators behind burrows in the island rocks. Photographing the puffins is a challenge from a wooden blind which contains 4 other photographers, with you guessed it, extensive telephoto lenses on a minimum of two cameras and through a six inch square hole to shoot from. We wasted no time getting to know each other and called out sightings of birds from each of our vantage points.

Puffins fly upwards to 50mph, making it challenging to catch them in flight. A bonus shot is when a puffin lands with a mouth full of fish and squid to feed to their pufflings. Following the time limited hour to photograph the puffins, our boat captain took us to the other side of the island to view seals sunning on the rocks and swimming along the rocky coast.

The Machais Seal Island can be accessed via boat tours originating from Cutler, Maine or Grand Manan, New Brunswick.

Visiting Machais Seal Island is highly recommended whether you are a photographer or not.

Carpe diem!   



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