Conference 2017 – Expedition Cruising

AH18 October 16, 2017

Confirmed presentation for Saturday October 21st: “Creating Ambassadors: Expedition Cruising Helps Secure the Future of Sable Island” Allow us to introduce Cedar Swan, an adventurer and passionate outdoor enthusiast. The CEO of Adventure Canada—as well as an expedition planner…

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Conference 2017 – Seeking Sable’s Lost Wrecks:

AH18 October 15, 2017

Confirmed presentation for Saturday October 21st: “Seeking Sable’s Lost Wrecks: Following a Digital Paper Trail” With some 350 ships thought to have wrecked on Sable Island, it’s sometimes called “The Graveyard of the Atlantic”. At our conference, Bill…

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Conference 2017 – Marine Debris and Micro Plastics

AH18 October 14, 2017

Confirmed presentation for Saturday October 21st: “Atlantic Canada Microplastics Research Project” Marine debris and micro plastics. Unpleasant for sure, but what does the research tell us? Ariel Smith, MEnv, is the Marine Debris Project Coordinator at Bluenose Coastal Action Foundation…

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Conference 2017 – Sable Island Horse Research

AH18 October 13, 2017

Confirmed presentation for Saturday October 21st: “Population Ecology of the Sable Island Horses”  Sable Island’s most famous inhabitants are its horses. And here’s the man who may understand them the best.Philip D. McLoughlin is an Associate Professor…

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Thank You Bill Freedman

October 28, 2015

It was sad to hear of the passing of Bill Freedman in late September 2015.…

AGM 2015 Recap

June 25, 2015

Thanks to everyone who attended the 2015 Annual General Meeting on June 24th at the…

Conference Thanks

June 2, 2015

One month ago today we opened the first Sable Island Conference. It was exciting to…

A-5: “The History of the Natural History of Sable Island” – Ian A. McLaren


The earliest published observations on the biota of Sable Island, along with casual observations in the logbooks of successive superintendents, are vague and emphasize natural resources. John .B.  Gilpin’s visits during summer 1854 and early September 1855 were the first by a knowledgeable naturalist. He published sketchy descriptions of the flora and more thorough (although sometimes inaccurate) accounts of the island’s pinnipeds, birds, and marine molluscs. Intense study of the island’s birds began with J. W. Maynard’s 1868 collection of a migrating Ipswich Sparrow in coastal Massachusetts. This led to recognition in 1884 of eggs from that new ‘species’ that had been sent from the island to the US National Museum by Superintendent Dodds in 1862, and encouraged New York naturalist Johanthan Dwight to visit the island June-July1894 primarily to study the sparrow and produce a substantial monograph. He also enthused Superintendent Bouteiller’s family to send him many specimens of birds, some very unusual, now in the American Museum of Natural History. The Bouteillers also published systematic bird observations, 1901-1907. A visit in summer 1999 by Dominion Botanist John Macoun produced the first reasonably complete survey of the island’s plants, but only casual reports on the fauna (but he did collect the once-thought-endemic freshwater sponge Anheteromenia ryderi). He probably also encouraged the futile efforts at tree-planting in May 1901 under the direction of W.E. Saunders, who published a few observation s on the Ipswich Sparrow and other birds. This ‘history’ conveniently closes with Harold St. John’s, visit to the island in 1913. As a student of the illustrious botanist, M.L. Fernald, he produced the first truly modern survey of the island’s flora.