Synopsis: Described as being as wide as a sprint and as long as a marathon, the island measures 42 kilometers long and 1.5 kilometers wide, and is located 250 kilometers southeast of Halifax (Canada) in the Atlantic Ocean.
Since shipwrecks were recorded in 1530, there have been 350 wrecks off Sable Island – the last was in the 1940s. The area is a nautical museum to shipwrecks. Today, modern navigation systems enable safe passage through this often foggy, sandbar ridden and stormy part of the Atlantic Ocean.
The only terrestrial mammals living on Sable Island are 550 feral horses – and -this figure fluctuates each year. The breed has survived on the island for 250 years against all odds and without human interference: no modern veterinary care, antibiotics, or other medicine. They are a recognized breed and are considered wild horses.
It is believed that the horses wandering the island today are most likely descendants of horses that were seized by the British from the Acadians during their expulsion from Nova Scotia in the late 1750s and 1760s, by a Bostonian preacher called Andrew Le Mercier.
They were originally domestic horses and brought to the island by man. The horses were later abandoned, and, since 1960, have fended for themselves.
There were attempts to colonize or farm the land, and, along with other animals (chickens, cows, sheep, goats), the horses were introduced to the island in 1760s. Of all the animals introduced to Sable Island only the horses survived.
The horses share the island with the world’s largest grey seal colony and various rare birds. The horses can often be seen curiously interacting with the seals.
Some people understand that the horses don’t belong on Sable Island, but they admire the fact that, once they were put there, the horses managed to survive for 250 years all by themselves, without the aid of people, and have adapted to the environment.