The southernmost point in New Brunswick, the rocky 6-ha (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.
Flora and fauna
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, ☎ , toll-free: . $86/person.
- Bold Coast Charter Company, Cutler, Maine, ☎ .
Fees and permits
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.
Eat & drink
There are two houses, next to the lighthouse. One houses the lighthouse keepers, the other houses the wildlife service team. Short of becoming a Canadian lighthouse keeper, there are basically no opportunities to sleep within the protected wildlife refuge. Best to go back out the way you came in.