Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Sable Island is situated 180 km southeast of Nova Scotia, Canada in the Atlantic Ocean. The island is a narrow crescent-shaped sandbar no more than 2 km at it widest point despite being nearly 38 km long. It emerges from vast shoals and shallows which, in tandem with the area's frequent fog and sudden strong storms which include hurricanes and nor'easters, have caused over 300 recorded shipwrecks. It is often referred to as "The Graveyard of the Atlantic".
Sable Island was named for its sand - ' sable ' is French for 'sand'. It is covered with grass and other low-growing vegetation. The island is home to over 250 wild horses who are protected by law from human interference. One theory regarding the origin of the wild horse population is that they are descended from horses confiscated from Acadians during the Great Expulsion and left on the island by Boston merchant Thomas Hancock , uncle of John Hancock. Several large bird colonies are here, Arctic terns, and Ipswich sparrows (Passerculus sandwichensis princeps), a subspecies of the Savannah Sparrow that breed nowhere else. Harbour and Grey seals also breed here. There is also a species of freshwater sponge (Heteromeyenia macouni) found only on the island.
The Portuguese explorer João Álvares Fagundes and his expedition, who explored this region in 1520-1521, may have been the first people to have encountered the island. A lighthouse was established on Sable Island in the 1790s and its life-saving crew became the first inhabitants of the island, a brief attempt at colonization at the end of the 16th century by the French having failed.
Meteorological and atmospheric studies are routinely conducted on Sable because of its unique geographic position down-wind from the mainland. There are frequent heavy fogs in the area due to the contrasting effects of the cold Labrador Current and the warm Gulf Stream. Sable Island is mentioned in the book "The Perfect Storm" and a staged version of the island appears in the movie by the same name.
One result of the island's complex administrative situation is that many amateur radio operators consider Sable Island to be a separate country and commonly give it the call sign prefix CY0. Since many amateurs want to collect contacts with as many countries as possible and the island is virtually uninhabited, stations that would operate from Sable Island would be very exotic to contact ("rare DX"). As a result, a number of private expeditions to operate temporary radio stations on Cape Sable Island (known as DX-peditions) have been mounted.
Sable Island is believed to have formed from large quantities of sand and gravel deposited on the continental shelf near the end of the more recent ice age. The island continually changes shape slightly due to the effects of strong winds and violent storms. In 1901, over 80,000 trees were planted on the island in an attempt to stablize the soil; all died.
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- "Sable Island Shipwrecks: Disaster and Survival at the North Atlantic Graveyard" by Lyall Campbell, Nimbus pub., ISBN 1551090961, December 2001
- " Ethos of Voice in the Journal of James Rainstorpe Morris from the Sable Island Humane Station, 1801-1802", by Rosalee Stilwell, ISBN 0773476636, Edwin Mellen Press, January 2001
- "Sable Island", by Bruce Armstrong, ISBN 0385131135, Doubleday, July 1981
- "Wild Horses of Sable Island", by Zoe Lucas, ISBN 0919872735, Firefly Books Ltd., August 1992
- "Wild and Beautiful Sable Island", Pat Keough et al., ISBN 096925573X, Green Publishing,September 1993
- "Sable Island Journals 1801-1804", by James Rainstorpe Morris, ISBN 0968924506
- "A Dune Adrift: The Strange Origins and Curious History of Sable Island", by Marq de Villiers and Sheila Hirtle, ISBN 0771026420, McClelland & Stewart, August 2004
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