Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Herschel Island is an island in the Beaufort Sea, which is considered part of the Arctic Ocean. It lies 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) off the coast of the Yukon Territory, of which it is administratively a part. The island has a total area of 112 square kilometers (43 square miles) and has a greatest length of approximately 18 kilometers (11 miles) and is about 11 kilometers (7 miles) wide at its widest point.
Located within the Arctic Circle, Herschel Island enjoys continuous daylight every year between May 19 and July 24. The sun does not appear above the horizon from November 29 to January 14, but significant twilight is experienced for a few hours in the late morning and early afternoon during the latter period.
The first European to sight the island was explorer Sir John Franklin, who reached it in 1826 and named it after his friend, scientist Sir John Herschel. Between 1890 and 1907, the island had as many as 1,500 residents, many of them whalers, with the largest settlement at Pauline Cove on the island's east shore; Anglican missionaries arrived in 1893.
Pursuant to the policy of evacuating remote native areas (both Inuit and Indian) common to many Canadian provincial and territorial governments in the post-World War II era, the island's Inuvialuit population was gradually moved eastward, to towns in the Northwest Territories such as Aklavik and Inuvik. The RCMP detachment on the island was withdrawn in 1964. While the island did see some renewed activity in the 1970s when it became a temporary safe harbor for oil-drilling ships, its last permanent inhabitants left in 1987, when it became the Yukon Territory's first territorial park, named Qikiqtaruk Territorial Park after the name of the island in Inuktitut.
The territorial park attracts many visitors each summer, there to view the buildings of the various settlements which still stand. They also go there to see the island's abundant wildlife, including many species of birds and even bears and caribou that migrate to and from the mainland between early November and late June, when the water separating the island from the mainland is frozen.
Herschel Island is located at .
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