Wayward Whale Shuts Down Nova Scotia Power Plant

ANNAPOLIS ROYAL, Nova Scotia, Canada, August 25, 2004 (ENS) - A Nova Scotia tidal electric power plant shut down Tuesday after a humpback whale swam through the gates connecting the utility on the Annapolis River with the Atlantic Ocean.

The Annapolis Tidal Power Plant remains closed. Nova Scotia Power officials said that the whale got into the facility's head pond on Monday while following a school of herring that swam through gates that were opened at high tide.

Officials were concerned the whale could get caught in a turbine, so the plant was shut down. They said it will remain closed until the whale leaves.

"Boaters are asked to stay away and give the whale plenty of room as it tries to return through the tidal gates," plant officials said. "The whale requires quiet and space to navigate its way back home."


The humpback is still in the Annapolis River. (Photo courtesy Nova Scotia Power)
Members of the public are being asked to refrain from approaching the whale. "A close approach could be dangerous to small craft as the whale is very active," said Margaret Murphy, spokeswoman for Nova Scotia Power.

Murphy says Nova Scotia Power officials are working with the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans, to encourage the whale to return to its natural habitat in the Bay of Fundy.

Officials say their efforts may be hampered by the close approach of vessels and other small boats.

Fisheries department spokesman Jerry Conway said the whale does not appear to be in any immediate danger.

Annapolis Tidal is one of only three tidal power plants in the world and is the first and only modern tidal plant in North America. The station is located in Annapolis Royal by the Bay of Fundy, which has the world's highest tides.

The power plant generates electricity using the sea water of the Bay of Fundy. Tides, which can reach 21 feet in height, rise and fall every 12 hours and 25 minutes in harmony with the gravitational forces of the Sun, the Earth, and the Moon.

Twice a day, with the tides, the plant generates electricity which is supplied to the provincial electric grid.

Annapolis uses the largest straflo turbine in the world to produce more than 30 million kilowatt hours per year - enough to power 4,000 homes.