Otter Cove in Pukaskwa National Park is a true wilderness
Lake Superior's Otter Cove is nestled deep in the backcountry of Pukaskwa National Park, Ontario. It is a land of the woodland caribou and timber wolf, black spruce and balsam fir and old fishing camps. However, it was the ancient rock that led o...
Lake Superior's Otter Cove is nestled deep in the backcountry of Pukaskwa National Park, Ontario. It is a land of the woodland caribou and timber wolf, black spruce and balsam fir and old fishing camps. However, it was the ancient rock that led our small group from Great Lakes Aquarium to Otter Cove this past September.
Otter Cove is one of the Aquarium's five habitat exhibits. Not only will it feature Lake Superior's most aquatic mammal, the river otter, it will also strive to accurately portray the natural heritage of this magnificent area. Which brings us back to the ancient rock.
The rocks of the Canadian Shield shape the beauty of Otter Cove. The Earth's rigid outer shell is broken into several individual pieces called tectonic plates that are moving very slowly. The Canadian Shield was formed when two tectonic plates converged, causing the surface rock to be forced down into the interior of the Earth, melt, rise back to the surface, and slowly cool.
Some granite areas are dissected by much younger dikes of black basalt that have seeped into the cracks. Other areas are shaped by the swirling patterns of the metamorphosed granite, which when it cools becomes a rock called migmatite.
We made our home aboard the old fishing tug Century that we docked at Otter Island harbor. On one side of the harbor is a small fishing village that is slowly fading into the soil, and across the way is the old assistant lightkeeper's house that still looks quite inviting.
From here we made numerous geologic forays in search of rock outcrops off lighthouse point, near the warden's cabin and in other more isolated areas. When we found the right outcrops, we made latex molds of the rock -- careful to include basaltic dikes, rolling granite faces, pegmatite veins and interesting overhangs. Next, we collected color information and photo documented the area.
Seven months have passed quickly, and now the artisans who make artificial rock look like the real thing have begun their work. The Otter Cove exhibit began with many 25-square-foot panels being hung, and the true artwork of seaming these panels together into one common piece of rock is about to begin. The quality of the work is judged by how natural the rock appears and whether trowel marks are left behind. We believe you will have a hard time discerning such unnatural features.
For more information about the Great Lakes Aquarium, check out its Web site at www.glaquarium.org or call 218-525-2265.
Jay Sandal is an education program manager for Great Lakes Aquarium and can be reached at (218) 525-2265 or email@example.com