Sable Island National Park

A National Gem

By: Camryn McConnochie
Mr. Dennison CGC 1D

Map of Sable Island
Regional Map of Sable Island


  • Portuguese explorer João Álvares Fagundes was the first to explore Sable Island from 1520-1521
João Álvares Fagundes
  • French colonization, using convicts, in the 1600's failed
  • The island was occasionally inhabited by sealers and shipwreck survivors.
  • Lifesaving station built in 1801
  • 2 rescue boat stations, several lookout stations and survival shelters built in 1809
  • 2 lighthouses added in 1872
Sable Island West Lighthouse
  • Wireless station added in early 20th century
  • The rescue station was closed in 1958
  • Canadian Government established a weather station on the island
  • The collection of weather data was expanded into a full meteorological station
  • The station conducts routine atmospheric and meteorological studies
  • Sable Island became Canada's 43rd National Park on June 20, 2013
A stunning aerial shot of Sable Island


  • The climate is classified as oceanic or humid continental
  • Heavy fogs are common due to the intersection of the cold Labrador Current and the warm Gulf Stream
The Labrador Current and the Gulf Stream intersect right near Sable Island
  • 127 days of the year have at least 1 hour of fog
  • Sable Island has an average of 1144 hours of fog per year, the most in Canada
  • It is home to the warmest temperatures in winter in Canada
  • Summers are some of the coolest in Canada
  • Most hurricane prone area of Canada
  • Only place in Canada where category 3 hurricane force winds are likely
  • Milder than mainland Nova Scotia
  • The normal temperature tends to stay between -5°C and 5°C

"If visiting, be prepared for a variety of weather during any season"-


  • No natural trees
  • In 1901, the government attempted to plant over 80,000 trees, but all died
  • More plantings occurred, resulting in the survival of 1 Scots pine
  • It was planted in the 1960's and is only a couple of feet tall
  • Plant life includes; salt-tolerant, sand-loving, and low-growing plants
  • Ex: Marram Grass
Marram Grass is abundant on Sable Island.


Feral horses fighting for dominance
Locally extinct Atlantic Walrus
Many species of seal visit Sable Island
There is a large Gull population

Feral horses, Atlantic Walrus, a variety of seal species, and different bird, fish, butterfly and moth species either occupy or visit Sable Island today, or have in the past.

Feral Horses

  • Feral horses were introduced shortly after 1738
  • Current minimum population of 375
  • Dependent on island vegetation for their nutrition

Atlantic Walrus

  • Once home to a breeding population of Atlantic Walrus
  • Hunted heavily for their ivory tusks
  • Last seen on the island in the 1800's


  • Largest breeding colony of Grey seals
  • Small resident population of Harbor seals
  • Harbor seal population has recently decreased due to competition for resources with Grey seals and shark predation


  • Sable Island is a key part of migration for many species of birds
  • 16 bird species breed on Sable Island in summer months
  • A significant Gull population is found year-round


  • Fresh water ponds are home to many fish species on the island
  • Ex: mummichogs, sticklebacks, American Eel


  • 6 species of invertebrate that occupy Sable Island, are only found on Sable Island
  • There are several butterfly and moth species that differ than the same ones found on mainland (subspecies)

Geology and Landforms

  • Sable Island is a crescent shaped sandbar
  • On the edge of the Continental Shelf, an area where the seabed is particularly shallow.
  • Occupied by low and high-rolling dunes
  • Dune ridges are built by winds and broken by northwesterly winter storms
Sable Island is on the Edge of the northeastern part of the Continental Shelf (the lighter blue).

Human Interactions

The horses on Sable Island over graze which can lead to desertification
  • The feral horses that inhabit the island, were introduced by humans
  • They are said to be a large factor in the desertification of the island
  • They consume copious amounts of vegetation and compact the earth, damaging root systems along the way
  • Desertification is the process in which fertile land becomes desert
  • In the past, humans have drilled for oil on and around Sable Island
  • Now, you may not drill for oil within one nautical mile of Sable Island

So, You Want To Visit Sable Island?

In the beginning of 2014, Sable Island was opened to visitors. But, there are conditions so that we may keep Sable Island the precious gem that it is, as long as we possibly can.

This website lists the conditions for if you wish to visit Sable Island:

Fun Facts

  1. Scientists believe that the island is moving, due to erosion on the west of the island that pushes sand to the east.
  2. Sable Island has earned the nickname "Graveyard of the Atlantic" due to abundance of shipwrecks that have happened before the use of modern navigation systems.
  3. Sable Island's name is derived from the french word for "sand".
  4. Only two people have been born on Sable Island since 1920.
Plan Your Visit Today!

Work Cited

"Sable Island." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 11 Aug. 2014. Web. 09 Nov. 2014.

News, CBC. "Sable Island: A Living Treasure - Nova Scotia - CBC News."CBCnews. CBC/Radio Canada, 14 Sept. 2014. Web. 09 Nov. 2014.

"Bienvenue | Welcome." Parcs Canada. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Nov. 2014.

"Facts about Sable Island, Nova Scotia |" Facts about Sable Island, Nova Scotia | N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Nov. 2014.

"Click Here To Play: Sable Island." Sable Island. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Nov. 2014.