A NASA photo recently posted by Canadian astronaut, David St. Jacques, shows how the red soil and sand weep into the water around Prince Edward Island.
Fishers around the island see the results of this erosion every year as sandbars off-shore make travel in and out of ports hazardous.
Every year, dredgers work along the coast of the island to make it possible for mariners to safely navigate the coastal waters. One area with problems in recent years is at Malpeque. There, a sheltered harbour provides protection from the storms which lash the north shore of the island but the channel to the Gulf of St Lawrence, past Cabot Beach, must be dredged regularly. Last year, one vessel capsized on its return to port. While fishers survived the ordeal, the event highlighted the danger and the problem with erosion of the coastline.
This spring, prior to the start of the lobster season, a dredger started work on that channel.
Work continued on Setting Day, the start of the lobster season. We could see the dredger from Cabot Beach and watched with interest as the lobster and mussel boats passed the dredger on their way through the channel.
Boats kept between the red and green buoys which marked the channel. The boats were surprisingly close to shore, mere meters from the beach. Past the outside buoys, at high tide,
you could see the shallow water, evidence of sand bars, which at low tide would be high and dry.
The dredger worked like a vacuum attached to an exhaust pipe from which water and sand poured. The pipe was long, emitting the sandy water on a nearby sandbar.
Sometimes the water ran clear but within minutes,
sandy water was emitted again. Always the opportunists, seagulls were camped out nearby to take advantage of any edibles which were dredged up and extruded.
This is important work along the coastline of our province and we were interested to see the process in action.