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Facts About Percé Rock - The Majestic Monument of the Sea

Facts About Percé Rock
Percé Rock, an imposing monolith rising high out of the sea, is a wondrous sight that has amazed and inspired people throughout the ages. Read this Vacayholics post for some facts about the Rocher Percé.
Sucheta Pradhan
Last Updated: Feb 26, 2018
André Breton (1896-1966), a French surrealist poet described the Percé Rock as a "razor blade rising out of the water, an image very imperious and commanding, a marvelous iceberg of moon stone."
The Percé Rock or the pierced rock is a rock formation of an enormous size in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence on the tip of the Gaspé Peninsula in Quebec, Canada. This massive rock appears as if it is a ship under sail, and is one of the main attractions in the Gaspé Peninsula, The rock is regarded as a historical and geological icon of Quebec. The rock can be viewed from both, Percé as well as the Bonaventure Island that is located near the monolith. The rock is also called pierced rock in reference to the hole-like arc that can be seen in the massive block of limestone. it is also associated with a local legend that goes something like this:

Chevalier Raymond de Nerac, a handsome young officer of the French army, fell in love with a beautiful girl named Blanche de Beaumont, and got engaged to her. One day, against his wish, he was posted to a regiment at the Fortress of St Louis, Quebec in New France. Unable to bear the separation, Blanche de Beaumont decided to travel to Quebec to marry Raymond de Nerac. However, during the journey, her ship was attacked by Spanish pirates near Newfoundland, and de Beaumont was captured and brought before the pirate captain. He warned her that there was no way for her to escape and proposed to marry her. The captain promised her that, if she agreed to marry him, he would sail past the fort of St. Lawrence, where she could take a last look at her fiancé. The girl agreed, only to kill herself by jumping off the deck at the time of marriage.

The moment she jumped off the deck, the ship was suddenly engulfed by a thick fog, So, the crew anchored the ship at the nearby shore for the night. The Spanish pirates woke up the next morning and were scared when they saw a huge rock, that seemed to be floating near their ship, and saw Blanche de Beaumont's apparition into the rock. She raised her hand in malediction, and the ship hit the rock and crashed. The next day, people who saw the rock, said that it appeared like a ship under sail.

So much so for the legend, but one thing is for sure that Percé Rock is a magnificent sight to behold, and here are some interesting facts about this natural wonder.
Some Interesting Facts
Perce Rock
The Percé Rock is a massive rocky cliff, made of reddish-gold limestone and shale.

Connected with the mainland at Rue du Mont-Joli by a sandbar, which is visible only during low tide, the rock reportedly has evidence of about 150 fossilized species of flora and fauna.
The father of Canadian geology, Sir William Edmond Logan, mapped the Percé Rock for the first time in 1844, as one of the many Devonian rocks, occupying the region around Quebec. The word Devonian refers to a period on the geological timescale that spans from about 419.2 ± 3.2 million years BP to 358.9 ± 0.4 million years BP. That explains the presence of so many fossils within the rock.
The Percé Rock has steep faces on all its sides, and is 0.66 miles in length and 300 ft in breadth. Moreover, it rises up to 289 feet at its highest point and weighs about five million tons.
Perce Rock Arch
On its seaward southern end, there is a 66 feet high natural arch formed in the surface of the rock. This is one of the largest natural arches in the world, situated in water.

In 1603, when the French navigator and the founder of the city of Quebec, Samuel de Champlain, saw the rock, it had only one arch. He gave the rock its present name in the year 1607.
In 1760, when one of the British officers sketched a picture of the rock, he drew two arches in it. The second, outer arch, however, no longer exists, but its traces remain in the form of a separated column that stands erect beside the rock. The arch is known to have collapsed in June 1845.

The existing arch is wide enough to let a small ship pass through it during low tide. In fact, during low tide, the rock itself can be approached on foot through the sandbar.
Geological researches on the rock have suggested that originally, it was a part of the mainland. In 1534, Jacques Cartier, a French explorer and the first colonist of Canada, had seen three arches in the rock. However, after his description, there are very rare, if any, references to the third arch.
Perce Rock from Bonaventure Island
The Bonaventure Island, an island in the Gulf of Lawrence, lies just next to the rock. In 1985, the Parc national de l'Île-Bonaventure-et-du-Rocher-Percé (Bonaventure Island and Percé Rock National Park) was established. Out of the five geological formations in the Gaspé Peninsula, Percé Rock is the only one that falls within the range of this protected area.
The park itself is a major tourist attraction, breeding over 110,000 nesting birds each year. It is also famous as a migratory bird sanctuary for the northern gannets, which migrate to the region in winter.
The Percé Rock has been subject to a lot erosion through various natural agents. With the current rate at which is the rock is eroding away due to water and aeolian action, which is about 300 tons per year, it is estimated that this massive monolith will vanish from the face of the earth in about 16,000 years.
Owing to the enormous amount of erosion of the rock, visitors are not advised to stroll around its foot during low tide. This is because, owing to the erosion, some parts of the rock may collapse at any point in time.
Black cormorants and silvery gulls
Black cormorants and silvery gulls
The top of the rock is inaccessible for the humans. Birds such as silvery gulls and black cormorants are often found perching there.
The Percé Rock is approachable by boat from Percé village, and it is a journey of about 75 minutes. However, it can only be visited from May 28 to October 12. There are a lot of guided tours to the rock and the national park, which provide a lot of information regarding the coastal flora and fauna, the geological features and the history of the monolith is provided to the tourists, thus making the visit, an all the more enriching experience.