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…

B-1: “Glacial and post-glacial geomorphic evolution of Sable Island and the surrounding Sable Island Bank – Today’s Seabed” – E.L. King, A. Ruffman, M. Li, and K. Webb


Mapping the seabed topography around Sable Island started with British hydrographers Des Barres (1776), Bayfield (1853) and Orelebar (1859). All were lead-line, celestial navigation surveys. The first rigorous sonar hydrography was by Canadian Hydrographic Service (CHS) 1961 and 1963 from CSS Kapuskasing though these surveys kept to the offshore.

With early petroleum exploration, detailed sonar survey work began; an early contractor entrenched the term “Sand Waves” but sand migration was not understood. A commercial gas find prompted 1981-82 CHS surveys (CSS Baffin) producing three charts close to the Island. Further exploration and development necessitated challenging surveys of the East and West Bars. Detailed contour charts (1 and 2 m intervals) were produced at five and 19-year spans, towards serial comparison for evaluating bedform migration.

With growth of engineering seabed infrastructure and need for sediment dynamics understanding, the GSC and CHS conducted multibeam sonar bathymetry (CSS F.G. Creed, 1996 to 2001) covering small, selected sites and some repeat coverage to establish temporal change. These and the early CHS spot depths were quality controlled, and a mosaic produced, culminating in a striking colour-shaded Sable Island Bank bathymetry map presented here. Analysis of the detailed maps and sand cores with unique age-dating helped quantify sand migration.

Drifting sand is the quintessential realm of Sable Island and its environs yet imaging the seabed is but one component toward understanding the forming processes. How it came to be is a question also addressed by imaging geologic strata below the seabed, topics for future presentation.