Machias Seal Island
The southernmost point in New Brunswick, the rocky 15-acre Machias Seal Island is home to the last of the manned lighthouses in Canada. Two lighthouse keepers are deployed by helicopter for a four-week tour of duty, before being relieved by a new pair.
The island is otherwise a Canadian Wildlife Service sanctuary and nesting ground for thousands of pairs of Atlantic puffins, a thousand pair of razorbill auk, and hundreds of common murres, as well as a few common and Arctic terns. There are very limited facilities to bring passengers ashore from boats; typically a tour operator will transfer at most fifteen passengers at a time onto small craft for landing.
There are a few blinds from which to view the birds unobtrusively, but the amount of time a voyager may spend ashore at the bird sanctuary is strictly limited to a few hours per trip.
Access is very much at the mercy of the weather; tours run in high season only and are limited to fifteen passengers each, scheduled so that one group leaves before the next arrives.
- Sea Watch Tours, 2476 Route 776, Grand Manan, ☎ +1 506 662-8552, toll-free: +1-877-662-8552. $86/person.
It is possible to tour on foot, but stick to the marked paths so as not to disturb the nesting birds.
- Birds. Lots of birds.
- There's also a historically-listed lighthouse, still manned as it was in 1832, which shines as a beacon of Canadian sovereignty.
- Watch the birds. It may be possible to get a photo by hiding behind the blinds to remain unobtrusive.
There are two houses, next to the light house. One houses the lighthouse keepers, the other houses the wildlife service team. Short of becoming a Canadian light house keeper, there are basically no opportunities to sleep within the protected wildlife refuge. Best to go back out the way you came in.