The hike to Green Gardens
is unlike anything else in Gros Morne National
Park. From the lunar like barrens of the Tablelands,
a small brook courses through a balsam fir forest
to the tuckamore, the densely packed,
stunted vegetation of the wind-swept coast,
and finally to the sea. Here, pillow shaped
rocks, the result of volcanic activity beneath
the ocean floor, were formed along the coast
as lava cooled under water.
Only about half the species
found on the Canadian mainland inhabit Newfoundland.
Raccoons, porcupines, groundhogs and skunks
do not live here. Endemic species include black
bear, arctic hare and woodland caribou.
Caribou trails along the high
ridges and upland plateau lead to the preferred
areas for birthing and rearing of young in the
spring. The large patches of unmelted snow provide
a constant supply of succulent new plant growth,
as well as relief from the insect parasites
that plague the animals in summer. Herds generally
move down into the forested lower elevations
for the winter months, feeding on caribou moss
and lichens. In the early 1900's, caribou
populations were estimated to number more than
100,000. Within 20 years, that number had declined
to 10,000, largely due to over-hunting that
probably drove the herds into the highlands.
In recent years, larger concentrations of the
caribou have been seen on the coastal lowlands.
Park scientists are tracking these recent migration
patterns, which may be part of a larger cycle,
comparing them with changes in vegetation and
topography profiles affected by increased moose