Sable Island

Sable Island is a small Canadian
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 island situated 300 km southeast of mainland Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the most populous province in Atlantic Canada. The name of the province is Latin for "New Scotland," but "Nova Scotia" is the recognized, English-language name of the province. The provincial capital is Halifax. Nova Scotia is the...

 in the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

. The island is a year-round home to approximately five people (four Environment Canada
Environment Canada
Environment Canada , legally incorporated as the Department of the Environment under the Department of the Environment Act Environment Canada (EC) (French: Environnement Canada), legally incorporated as the Department of the Environment under the Department of the Environment Act Environment...

 station personnel and one resident researcher). In summer, this number swells to include seasonal contractors, research scientists, photographers, tourists, artists, and others. The island is notable for its population of feral horses
Sable Island Pony
The Sable Island Pony, also known as the Sable Island Horse, is a type of feral horse found on Sable Island, an island off the coast of Nova Scotia, Canada. The first horses were brought to the island for pasture in the late eighteenth century, and additional horses were later transported to...

. Sable Island is protected under the Canada Shipping Act, which means that permission must be obtained from the Canadian Coast Guard
Canadian Coast Guard
The Canadian Coast Guard is the coast guard of Canada. It is a federal agency responsible for providing maritime search and rescue , aids to navigation, marine pollution response, marine radio, and icebreaking...

 to visit the island. Sable Island is part of District 13 of the Halifax Regional Municipality in Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the most populous province in Atlantic Canada. The name of the province is Latin for "New Scotland," but "Nova Scotia" is the recognized, English-language name of the province. The provincial capital is Halifax. Nova Scotia is the...



The Portuguese
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

 explorer João Álvares Fagundes
João Álvares Fagundes
João Álvares Fagundes , an explorer and ship owner from Viana do Castelo in Northern Portugal, organized several expeditions to Newfoundland and Nova Scotia around 1520-1521....

 and his expedition, who explored this region in 1520–1521, were among the first Europeans to have encountered the island. It is likely that he named the island Fagunda after himself, but the identification of Sable Island with Fagunda is not certain. A brief attempt at colonization at the end of the 16th century by France using convicts failed. The island was inhabited sporadically by sealers, shipwreck survivors, and salvagers who were known as "wreckers"
Wrecking (shipwreck)
Wrecking is the practice of taking valuables from a shipwreck which has foundered near or close to shore. Often an unregulated activity of opportunity in coastal communities, wrecking has been subjected to increasing regulation and evolved into what is now known as marine salvage...

. A life-saving station was established on Sable Island by the government of Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the most populous province in Atlantic Canada. The name of the province is Latin for "New Scotland," but "Nova Scotia" is the recognized, English-language name of the province. The provincial capital is Halifax. Nova Scotia is the...

 in 1801 and its life-saving crew became the first permanent inhabitants of the island. Two lighthouse
A lighthouse is a tower, building, or other type of structure designed to emit light from a system of lamps and lenses or, in older times, from a fire, and used as an aid to navigation for maritime pilots at sea or on inland waterways....

s, one on the eastern tip and one on the western tip were built in 1872. Until the advent of modern ship navigation, Sable Island's two light stations were home to permanent lighthouse keepers and their families, as well as the crew members of the life-saving station. In the early 20th century, the Marconi Company
Marconi Company
The Marconi Company Ltd. was founded by Guglielmo Marconi in 1897 as The Wireless Telegraph & Signal Company...

 established a wireless station on the island and the Canadian government similarly established a weather station. Only two people have been born on Sable Island since 1920.

Although the Canadian Coast Guard
Canadian Coast Guard
The Canadian Coast Guard is the coast guard of Canada. It is a federal agency responsible for providing maritime search and rescue , aids to navigation, marine pollution response, marine radio, and icebreaking...

 (CCG) first automated and eventually decommissioned the light stations, Environment Canada and DFO conduct routine atmospheric and meteorological studies from a permanently occupied station on Sable Island because of its unique isolated geographic position down-wind from the North American mainland. Sable Island is specifically mentioned in the British North America Act 1867, Part 4, Section 91 as being the special responsibility of the federal government
Government of Canada
The Government of Canada, formally Her Majesty's Government, is the system whereby the federation of Canada is administered by a common authority; in Canadian English, the term can mean either the collective set of institutions or specifically the Queen-in-Council...

 ("...the exclusive Legislative Authority of the Parliament of Canada extends to [...] 9. Beacons, Buoys, Lighthouses, and Sable Island."). For this reason it is considered a separate amateur radio
Amateur radio
Amateur radio is the use of designated radio frequency spectrum for purposes of private recreation, non-commercial exchange of messages, wireless experimentation, self-training, and emergency communication...

 "entity" (equivalent to country for award credit) and the occasional operators who visit use the special callsign prefix CY0.

Out of concern for preserving the island's frail ecology, as well as sovereignty purposes, all visitors to the island, including recreational boaters, require specific permission from CCG. The Canadian Forces
Canadian Forces
The Canadian Forces , officially the Canadian Armed Forces , are the unified armed forces of Canada, as constituted by the National Defence Act, which states: "The Canadian Forces are the armed forces of Her Majesty raised by Canada and consist of one Service called the Canadian Armed Forces."...

 continuously patrol the area using aircraft and naval vessels, partly due to the nearby presence of natural gas
Natural gas
Natural gas is a naturally occurring gas mixture consisting primarily of methane, typically with 0–20% higher hydrocarbons . It is found associated with other hydrocarbon fuel, in coal beds, as methane clathrates, and is an important fuel source and a major feedstock for fertilizers.Most natural...

 and oil
Petroleum or crude oil is a naturally occurring, flammable liquid consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons of various molecular weights and other liquid organic compounds, that are found in geologic formations beneath the Earth's surface. Petroleum is recovered mostly through oil drilling...

 drilling rigs
Oil platform
An oil platform, also referred to as an offshore platform or, somewhat incorrectly, oil rig, is a lаrge structure with facilities to drill wells, to extract and process oil and natural gas, and to temporarily store product until it can be brought to shore for refining and marketing...

 and an undersea pipeline
Pipeline transport
Pipeline transport is the transportation of goods through a pipe. Most commonly, liquids and gases are sent, but pneumatic tubes that transport solid capsules using compressed air are also used....

. Sable Island's heliport contains emergency aviation fuel for search and rescue
Search and rescue
Search and rescue is the search for and provision of aid to people who are in distress or imminent danger.The general field of search and rescue includes many specialty sub-fields, mostly based upon terrain considerations...

 helicopters, which use the island to stage further offshore into the Atlantic. Should the need arise, the island serves as an emergency evacuation point for crews aboard nearby drilling rigs of the Sable Offshore Energy Project
Sable Offshore Energy Project
The Sable Offshore Energy Project is a consortium based in Halifax, Nova Scotia which is attempting to locate and produce natural gas found near Sable Island on the edge of the Nova Scotian continental shelf in eastern Canada...


The island is a part of the Halifax Regional Municipality
Halifax Regional Municipality, Nova Scotia
Halifax Regional Municipality is the capital of the province of Nova Scotia, Canada. The Regional Municipality had a 2006 census population of 372,679, while the metropolitan area had a 2010 estimated population of 403,188, and the urban area of Halifax had a population of 282,924...

, the federal electoral district of Halifax
Halifax (electoral district)
Halifax is a federal electoral district in Nova Scotia, Canada, that has been represented in the Canadian House of Commons since 1867.Since October 14, 2008, its Member of the Parliament has been Megan Leslie of the New Democratic Party....

, and the provincial electoral district of Halifax Citadel
Halifax Citadel
Halifax Citadel is a provincial electoral district in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, that elects one member of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly.Its current Member of the Legislative Assembly is Leonard Preyra of the Nova Scotia New Democratic Party....

, although the urban area of Halifax proper is some 300 km or 190 mi away on the Nova Scotian mainland.

On October 17, 2011, the Nova Scotia government reached a deal with Ottawa to make Sable Island a national park. The news followed an announcement made by the Canadian federal government in May 2010 to increase the level of protection the island receives by transferring governmental control from the Canadian Coast Guard
Canadian Coast Guard
The Canadian Coast Guard is the coast guard of Canada. It is a federal agency responsible for providing maritime search and rescue , aids to navigation, marine pollution response, marine radio, and icebreaking...

 to Parks Canada
Parks Canada
Parks Canada , also known as the Parks Canada Agency , is an agency of the Government of Canada mandated to protect and present nationally significant natural and cultural heritage, and foster public understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment in ways that ensure their ecological and commemorative...



Sable Island is a narrow, crescent-shaped sandbar with a surface area of about 34 km². Despite being nearly 42 km long, it is only 1.5 km across at its widest point. It emerges from vast shoals and shallows on the continental shelf
Continental shelf
The continental shelf is the extended perimeter of each continent and associated coastal plain. Much of the shelf was exposed during glacial periods, but is now submerged under relatively shallow seas and gulfs, and was similarly submerged during other interglacial periods. The continental margin,...

 which, in tandem with the area's frequent fog and sudden strong storms including hurricanes and nor'easter
A nor'easter is a type of macro-scale storm along the East Coast of the United States and Atlantic Canada, so named because the storm travels to the northeast from the south and the winds come from the northeast, especially in the coastal areas of the Northeastern United States and Atlantic Canada...

s, have caused over 350 recorded shipwreck
A shipwreck is what remains of a ship that has wrecked, either sunk or beached. Whatever the cause, a sunken ship or a wrecked ship is a physical example of the event: this explains why the two concepts are often overlapping in English....

s. It is often referred to as the Graveyard of the Atlantic, as it sits astride the great circle
Great circle
A great circle, also known as a Riemannian circle, of a sphere is the intersection of the sphere and a plane which passes through the center point of the sphere, as opposed to a general circle of a sphere where the plane is not required to pass through the center...

 route from North America's east coast to Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

. The nearest landfall is 160 kilometres to the northwest near Canso
Canso, Nova Scotia
For the headland, see Cape Canso.Canso is a small Canadian town in Guysborough County, on the north-eastern tip of mainland Nova Scotia, next to Chedabucto Bay. The area was established in 1604, along with Port Royal, Nova Scotia. The British construction of a fort in the village , was instrumental...

, Nova Scotia.

Sable Island is believed to have formed from large quantities of sand and gravel
Terminal moraine
A terminal moraine, also called end moraine, is a moraine that forms at the end of the glacier called the snout.Terminal moraines mark the maximum advance of the glacier. An end moraine is at the present boundary of the glacier....

 deposited on the continental shelf near the end of the last ice age
Ice age
An ice age or, more precisely, glacial age, is a generic geological period of long-term reduction in the temperature of the Earth's surface and atmosphere, resulting in the presence or expansion of continental ice sheets, polar ice sheets and alpine glaciers...

. Some believe that Sable Island is actually slowly moving east: waves erode the western shore, and new sand is added on the eastern shore. The island is continually changing its shape with the effects of strong winds and violent ocean storms. The island has several freshwater ponds on the south side between the station and west light and a brackish lake named Lake Wallace near its centre.


Sable Island's climate can be classified as either oceanic
Oceanic climate
An oceanic climate, also called marine west coast climate, maritime climate, Cascadian climate and British climate for Köppen climate classification Cfb and subtropical highland for Köppen Cfb or Cwb, is a type of climate typically found along the west coasts at the middle latitudes of some of the...

Köppen climate classification
The Köppen climate classification is one of the most widely used climate classification systems. It was first published by Crimea German climatologist Wladimir Köppen in 1884, with several later modifications by Köppen himself, notably in 1918 and 1936...

 Cfb) or humid continental
Humid continental climate
A humid continental climate is a climatic region typified by large seasonal temperature differences, with warm to hot summers and cold winters....

 (Köppen Dfb). There are frequent heavy fogs in the area due to the contrasting effects of the cold Labrador Current
Labrador Current
The Labrador Current is a cold current in the North Atlantic Ocean which flows from the Arctic Ocean south along the coast of Labrador and passes around Newfoundland, continuing south along the east coast of Nova Scotia...

 and the warm Gulf Stream
Gulf Stream
The Gulf Stream, together with its northern extension towards Europe, the North Atlantic Drift, is a powerful, warm, and swift Atlantic ocean current that originates at the tip of Florida, and follows the eastern coastlines of the United States and Newfoundland before crossing the Atlantic Ocean...

: on average there are 127 days out of the year that have at least 1 hour of fog. During winter months, the moderating influence of the Gulf Stream can sometimes give Sable Island the warmest temperatures in Canada.

Vegetation and Wildlife

Sable Island was named after its sand
Sand is a naturally occurring granular material composed of finely divided rock and mineral particles.The composition of sand is highly variable, depending on the local rock sources and conditions, but the most common constituent of sand in inland continental settings and non-tropical coastal...

sable is French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 for "sand". It is covered with marram grass
Marram grass
Ammophila is a genus consisting of two or three very similar species of grasses; common names for these grasses include Marram Grass, Bent Grass, and Beachgrass...

 and other low-growing vegetation, and lacks natural trees. In 1901, the federal government planted over 80,000 trees on the island in an attempt to stabilize the soil; all died. Subsequent plantings resulted in the survival of a single Scots pine. Although planted in the 1960s, it is only a few feet tall.

The island is home to over 400 free-roaming feral horse
Feral horse
A feral horse is a free-roaming horse of domesticated ancestry. As such, a feral horse is not a wild animal in the sense of an animal without domesticated ancestors. However, some populations of feral horses are managed as wildlife, and these horses often are popularly called "wild" horses...

s which are protected by law from human interference. The best evidence for the origin of the horse population is that they are descended from horses confiscated from Acadian
The Acadians are the descendants of the 17th-century French colonists who settled in Acadia . Acadia was a colony of New France...

s during the Great Expulsion and left on the island by Thomas Hancock
Thomas Hancock (merchant)
Thomas Hancock was a merchant in colonial Boston. He got his start in the book trade, and expanded into importing and exporting throughout the British Empire. He was also a smuggler, evading the British Navigation Acts by trading with Holland, which was forbidden...

, Boston merchant and uncle of John Hancock
John Hancock
John Hancock was a merchant, statesman, and prominent Patriot of the American Revolution. He served as president of the Second Continental Congress and was the first and third Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts...


In the past, excess horses were rounded up and shipped off the island for use in coal mines on Cape Breton Island
Cape Breton Island
Cape Breton Island is an island on the Atlantic coast of North America. It likely corresponds to the word Breton, the French demonym for Brittany....

, Nova Scotia, or to be sold, but the Canadian Government gave full protection to the horse population in 1960, and they have been left alone ever since. No human is allowed to interfere with any of the island's wildlife because it is a wildlife preserve and is protected by the Canadian government.

Harbour and Grey seal
Grey Seal
The grey seal is found on both shores of the North Atlantic Ocean. It is a large seal of the family Phocidae or "true seals". It is the only species classified in the genus Halichoerus...

s breed on the island's shores. Seal counts from the 1960s for the grey seal population estimated 200–300 pups born at that time on the island, but surveys from as recent as 2003–2004 estimated the number of pups born in that season at 50,000. The seals are occasionally predated by the various shark species that inhabit the waters nearby, including the Great White Shark
Great white shark
The great white shark, scientific name Carcharodon carcharias, also known as the great white, white pointer, white shark, or white death, is a large lamniform shark found in coastal surface waters in all major oceans. It is known for its size, with the largest individuals known to have approached...

. Unusual 'corkscrew' bite wounds on dead seals suggest that the Greenland shark
Greenland shark
The Greenland shark, Somniosus microcephalus, also known as the sleeper shark, gurry shark, ground shark, grey shark, or by the Inuit languages name Eqalussuaq, is a large shark native to the waters of the North Atlantic Ocean around Greenland and Iceland. These sharks live farther north than any...

 is probably responsible for most attacks here.

Several large bird colonies are resident, including Arctic tern
Arctic Tern
The Arctic Tern is a seabird of the tern family Sternidae. This bird has a circumpolar breeding distribution covering the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions of Europe, Asia, and North America...

s and Ipswich sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
The Savannah Sparrow is a small American sparrow. It is the only widely accepted member of the genus Passerculus...

s. The latter, a subspecies of the Savannah Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
The Savannah Sparrow is a small American sparrow. It is the only widely accepted member of the genus Passerculus...

, breeds only on Sable Island. Many other species of birds are found on the island—some are intentional visitors, migratory or otherwise, and some are small birds that have been blown out to sea in violent storms and have been fortunate enough to find themselves on dry land again.

It was formerly believed that the freshwater sponge Heteromeyenia macouni was found only in ponds on the island. However, that sponge is now considered to be the same species as Racekiela ryderi
Racekiela ryderi
Racekiela ryderi is a species of freshwater demosponge in the family Spongillidae. It was first described by Edward Potts in 1882.A freshwater sponge collected on Sable Island in 1899 by John Macoun, a biologist with the Geological Survey of Canada, and given the name Heteromeyenia macouni by A.H....

, which is also found elsewhere.


Sable Island is famous for its large number of shipwrecks. An estimated 350 vessels are believed to have fallen victim to the island's sand bars. Thick fogs, treacherous currents, and the island's location in the middle of a major transatlantic shipping route and rich fishing grounds account for the large number of wrecks. The first recorded wreck was the English ship Delight in 1583, part of Humphrey Gilbert
Humphrey Gilbert
Sir Humphrey Gilbert of Devon in England was a half-brother of Sir Walter Raleigh. Adventurer, explorer, member of parliament, and soldier, he served during the reign of Queen Elizabeth and was a pioneer of English colonization in North America and the Plantations of Ireland.-Early life:Gilbert...

's Newfoundland
Newfoundland and Labrador
Newfoundland and Labrador is the easternmost province of Canada. Situated in the country's Atlantic region, it incorporates the island of Newfoundland and mainland Labrador with a combined area of . As of April 2011, the province's estimated population is 508,400...

 expedition. The last major shipwreck was the steamship Manhasset wrecked in 1947. Her crew were all saved, the last major rescue of the Sable lifesaving station. No further wrecks occurred until 1999 when the three crew members of the yacht Merrimac survived after their sloop was wrecked after running aground due to a navigational error. The construction of two lighthouses on each end of the island in 1873 probably contributed to the decrease in the number of shipwrecks.

Few of the wrecks surrounding the island are visible, as the ships are usually crushed and buried by the sand. The large number of wrecks have earned the island the nickname "Graveyard of the Atlantic", although the phrase is also used to describe Cape Cod
Cape Cod
Cape Cod, often referred to locally as simply the Cape, is a cape in the easternmost portion of the state of Massachusetts, in the Northeastern United States...

, Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

. and the Outer Banks
Graveyard of the Atlantic
Graveyard of the Atlantic is a nickname of two locations known for numerous shipwrecks: the treacherous waters in the Atlantic Ocean along the Outer Banks of North Carolina and the Virginia coastline south of the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay at Cape Henry; and around Sable Island, off the coast...

 area of North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...


Sable Island Station

The Sable Island Station is the only permanently staffed facility on the Island. The Sable Island Station is managed and staffed by Environment Canada
Environment Canada
Environment Canada , legally incorporated as the Department of the Environment under the Department of the Environment Act Environment Canada (EC) (French: Environnement Canada), legally incorporated as the Department of the Environment under the Department of the Environment Act Environment...

. Climatological record-keeping on Sable Island began in 1871 with the establishment of the Meteorological Service of Canada
Meteorological Service of Canada
The Meteorological Service of Canada , also known as "The Canadian Weather Service", is a division of Environment Canada, which primarily provides public meteorological information and weather forecasts and warnings of severe weather and other environmental hazards...

, and has been continuous since 1891.

Sable Island is the subject of extensive scientific research. A wide range of manual and automated instruments are used at the Sable Island station, including the Automated Weather Observing System
Automated airport weather station
Automated airport weather stations are automated sensor suites which are designed to serve aviation and meteorological observing needs for safe and efficient aviation operations and weather forecasting...

 operated by the Meteorological Service of Canada, an aerology
Atmospheric sciences
Atmospheric sciences is an umbrella term for the study of the atmosphere, its processes, the effects other systems have on the atmosphere, and the effects of the atmosphere on these other systems. Meteorology includes atmospheric chemistry and atmospheric physics with a major focus on weather...

 program measuring conditions in the upper atmosphere using a radiosonde
A radiosonde is a unit for use in weather balloons that measures various atmospheric parameters and transmits them to a fixed receiver. Radiosondes may operate at a radio frequency of 403 MHz or 1680 MHz and both types may be adjusted slightly higher or lower as required...

 carried aloft by a hydrogen-filled weather balloon
Weather balloon
A weather or sounding balloon is a balloon which carries instruments aloft to send back information on atmospheric pressure, temperature, humidity and wind speed by means of a small, expendable measuring device called a radiosonde...

 to altitudes beyond 40 km (24.9 mi), and a program collecting data on background levels of carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring chemical compound composed of two oxygen atoms covalently bonded to a single carbon atom...

 (CO2), which began on the island in 1974. Research is done on Sable Island to monitor the long-range transport of pollution aerosols. Fog chemistry is studied, examining the transport and composition of atmospheric toxins carried in fog. Tropospheric ozone
Ozone , or trioxygen, is a triatomic molecule, consisting of three oxygen atoms. It is an allotrope of oxygen that is much less stable than the diatomic allotrope...

 is measured and is analyzed by researchers in Canada and the United States along with 20 other North American sites.

The installation of the BGS Magnetic Observatory on Sable Island was funded as a joint venture between the British Geological Survey, Sperry-Sun Drilling Services, and Sable Offshore Energy. The data collected at the observatory aid scientific research into rates of change of the Earth's magnetic field and increase the accuracy of the BGS Global Geomagnetic Model. Data from the geomagnetic observatory are used by the offshore energy industry for precise positioning activities such as directional drilling
Directional drilling
Directional drilling is the practice of drilling non-vertical wells. It can be broken down into three main groups: Oilfield Directional Drilling, Utility Installation Directional Drilling Directional drilling (or slant drilling) is the practice of drilling non-vertical wells. It can be broken down...


Supplies are delivered to the Sable Island Station approximately twice a month by a Britten-Norman Islander
Britten-Norman Islander
The Britten-Norman BN-2 Islander is a 1960s British light utility aircraft, regional airliner and cargo aircraft designed and originally manufactured by Britten-Norman of the United Kingdom. The Islander is one of the best-selling commercial aircraft types produced in Europe. Although designed in...

 aircraft operated by Maritime Air Charter
Maritime Air Charter
Maritime Air Charter Limited is an on-demand aircraft charter company based at the Halifax International Airport in Enfield and Halifax Regional Municipality, Canada. It operates passenger and cargo services, and is the contracted fixed wing service provider for Sable Island.- History :Maritime Air...

. Although the island has a heliport
A heliport is a small airport suitable only for use by helicopters. Heliports typically contain one or more helipads and may have limited facilities such as fuel, lighting, a windsock, or even hangars...

, there is no runway for fixed wing aircraft; instead the Islander lands on the south beach. The Station Manager carefully selects a suitable landing area (with due consideration given to length and prevailing winds), tests it for firmness (thereby marking out the suitable area with his truck tire tracks), and conveys this information to the flight crew before the Islander takes off from Halifax. Crew changes for the station personnel, which occur an average of every three months, are also accomplished in this manner.

In 2010, a certain area of the south beach about 2 NM east of the Coast Guard's heliport  was designated as the Sable Island Aerodrome
Sable Island Aerodrome
Sable Island Aerodrome, , is located on Sable Island, Nova Scotia, Canada. The term aerodrome is somewhat of a misnomer in this case - there is no actual airport infrastructure nor is there a runway on Sable Island - the fixed-wing aircraft that carries supplies to the weather station lands on the...

 and assigned the ICAO identifier of CSB2. No changes have been made (i.e. construction of any kind), however, by designating one of the landing areas as an aerodrome
An aerodrome, airdrome or airfield is a term for any location from which aircraft flight operations take place, regardless of whether they involve cargo, passengers or neither...

, it will allow a GPS approach to be created, thereby reducing the allowable minimum descent altitude
Instrument approach
For aircraft operating under instrument flight rules , an instrument approach or instrument approach procedure is a series of predetermined maneuvers for the orderly transfer of an aircraft under instrument flight conditions from the beginning of the initial approach to a landing, or to a point...

 (MDA) by 600 or more ft. Prior permission is required to land there, as the landing area is often unusable due to being underwater, too soft, ridged with sand, etc.

In the 2006 Canadian federal election
Canadian federal election, 2006
The 2006 Canadian federal election was held on January 23, 2006, to elect members of the Canadian House of Commons of the 39th Parliament of Canada. The Conservative Party of Canada won the greatest number of seats: 40.3% of seats, or 124 out of 308, up from 99 seats in 2004, and 36.3% of votes:...

 media coverage, the Canadian Press
Canadian Press
Canadian Press Enterprises Inc. is the entity which "will take over the operations of the Canadian Press" according to a November 26, 2010 article in the Toronto Star...

 reported a 100% voter turnout for Sable Island, with six ballots from all six permanent residents retrieved by the returning officer by Coast Guard helicopter.

Sable Island in popular culture

The unique landscape, history of shipwrecks and wildlife, especially horses, have made Sable Island an iconic place in Atlantic Canada and attracted considerable international following. Shipwreck survivors published early survival narratives about their experiences at Sable Island beginning with the sinking of the Delight in 1583. The first formal history of the island Sable Island : its History and Phenomena was written in 1894 by George Patterson. Many other histories of the island and its shipwrecks have been published about the island since, such as Lyall Campbell's two books Sable Island, fatal and fertile crescent in 1974 and Sable Island shipwrecks : disaster and survival at the North Atlantic graveyard in 1994 and more recently A dune adrift : the strange origins and curious history of Sable Island written in 2004 by Marq de Villiers
Marq de Villiers
Marq de Villiers, CM is an award-winning Canadian writer and journalist. He now chiefly writes non-fiction books on scientific topics. In the past he also worked as a magazine editor and foreign correspondent.-Biography:...


The island has also inspired works of fiction. Nova Scotia author Thomas Chandler Haliburton
Thomas Chandler Haliburton
Thomas Chandler Haliburton was the first international best-selling author from Canada. He was also significant in the history of Nova Scotia.-Life:...

 published "The Sable Island Ghost" in 1802, a fictional story about a ghostly woman inspired by the loss of the brig Francis in 1798. His story helped raise support for the establishment of rescue station on the island.
Canadian writer James MacDonald Oxley wrote a youth novel The Wreckers of Sable Island in 1897. Frank Parker Day
Frank Parker Day
Frank Parker Day was a Canadian athlete, academic and author....

's 1928 novel Rockbound
Rockbound is a novel published in 1928 by Canadian writer Frank Parker Day.-Overview:The "Rockbound" mentioned in the title is an island off the coast of Nova Scotia. Surrounded by rich but dangerous fishing grounds, Rockbound is isolated by storms, fog and winter weather...

features a vivid depiction of the sinking of the schooner
A schooner is a type of sailing vessel characterized by the use of fore-and-aft sails on two or more masts with the forward mast being no taller than the rear masts....

 Sylvia Mosher during the 1926 August Gales
1926 Atlantic hurricane season
A Cape Verde-type hurricane reached Category 4 strength over the open Atlantic Ocean on September. It turned to the northeast, looped, and became extratropical on September 21...

 at Sable Island. One of the island's most notable temporary residents was Nova Scotian author Thomas H. Raddall, whose early experiences on Sable Island (working at the wireless post) served as the inspiration for his 1950 novel The Nymph and the Lamp.

The island has been the subject of many Canadian documentaries by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, commonly known as CBC and officially as CBC/Radio-Canada, is a Canadian crown corporation that serves as the national public radio and television broadcaster...

 and the National Film Board of Canada
National Film Board of Canada
The National Film Board of Canada is Canada's twelve-time Academy Award-winning public film producer and distributor. An agency of the Government of Canada, the NFB produces and distributes documentary, animation, alternative drama and digital media productions...

, beginning with the 1956 NFB film Sable Island by Allan Wargon and more recently the 2003 NFB documentary Moving Sands by Phillipe Baylanq. A number of international documentaries have also explored the island including the 2007 film "Ile de sable" made by Jean-Francois Ducrocq and Malek Sahraoui for France 3
France 3
France 3 is the second largest French public television channel and part of the France Télévisions group, which also includes France 2, France 4, France 5, and France Ô....

, French public television. A 2008 American documentary Chasing Wild Horses was filmed on Sable, although it propagated several fallacies about the island (such as the total banning of the general public from visiting and the mythical shipwreck origins of the horses). Sable Island is briefly featured in the 2000 feature film The Perfect Storm
The Perfect Storm (film)
The Perfect Storm is a 2000 dramatic disaster film directed by Wolfgang Petersen. It is an adaptation of the 1997 non-fiction book of the same title by Sebastian Junger about the crew of the Andrea Gail that got caught in the Perfect Storm of 1991. The film stars George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg,...

 which depicts the sinking of the fishing vessel Andrea Gail
Andrea Gail
The F/V Andrea Gail was a commercial fishing vessel that was lost at sea with all hands during the "Perfect Storm" of 1991. The vessel and her six-man crew had been fishing the North Atlantic Ocean out of Gloucester, Massachusetts. Her last reported position was northeast of Sable Island on...

near Sable, although the island is erroneously portrayed with trees and a giant stone lighthouse. Sable Island was the intended setting for the 2002 film Touching Wild Horses starring Jane Seymour
Jane Seymour (actress)
Jane Seymour, OBE is an English actress best known for her performances in the James Bond film Live and Let Die , East of Eden , Onassis: The Richest Man in the World , and the American television series Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman...

, however, little attempt was made to mimic the natural landscape of Sable, with trees and rocks abounding in the background of most every scene.

A permanent exhibit about Sable Island is featured at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic
Maritime Museum of the Atlantic
The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic is a Canadian maritime museum located in downtown Halifax, Nova Scotia.The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic is a member institution of the Nova Scotia Museum and is the oldest and largest maritime museum in Canada with a collection of over 30,000 artifacts...

 in Halifax, Nova Scotia which includes two rescue boats from Sable and numerous name boards and figurehead
A figurehead is a carved wooden decoration found at the prow of ships largely made between the 16th and 19th century.-History:Although earlier ships had often had some form of bow ornamentation A figurehead is a carved wooden decoration found at the prow of ships largely made between the 16th and...

s from Sable Island wrecks. A small exhibit about the horses
Sable Island Pony
The Sable Island Pony, also known as the Sable Island Horse, is a type of feral horse found on Sable Island, an island off the coast of Nova Scotia, Canada. The first horses were brought to the island for pasture in the late eighteenth century, and additional horses were later transported to...

is found at the Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History.

Canadian alternative hip-hop artist Buck 65 mentions Sable Island in his song 'Blood Of A Young Wolf'.

External links

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