Island offered by Adventure Canada
story/IAN STALKER photos/ Michelle Valberg
Nature-conscious Adventure Canada is giving Sable Island its seals of approval.
The expedition cruise company’s June 27 to July 8 Sable Island, Cape Breton, Newfoundland and the Magdalen Islands: Atlantic Island Odyssey — which has participants sail from St. John’s and finally disembark in the French territory of Saint-Pierre — visits Sable Island, best known for its wild horses, but which the company’s Garry Donaldson noted during an Adventure Canada webinar is home to two types of seals, including grey seals, with as many as 400,000 of them calling an island that’s 44 kms long and never more than a kilometre-wide their home during breeding season.
And Donaldson told webinar viewers that interest company clients show in the seals can be reciprocated.
“Grey seals are super curious,” he said, adding they probably ask themselves, “Hey, what is that two-legged thing walking along the beach” when spotting an Adventure Canada client.
Adventure Canada clients will travel from their ship by Zodiac to Sable Island, with landings dispersed so they won’t all be bunched together.
Wild horses will be spotted by clients, with both horse “families” and “bachelor groups” found on the island, which lies 300 kms east of Halifax and alternately has landscapes of sand and low-growing vegetation.
Adventure Canada keeps clients from getting very close to the seals and horses on Sable Island, now a national park reserve.
Ornithologist Donaldson noted the island is home to different species of birds, including serving as the breeding ground for Ipswich sparrows
Different types of terns can be spotted, with Donaldson cautioning that the protective birds don’t want people nearing their nests.
“You’ll know if you’re near one if you have an angry one flying around your head.”
Donaldson added that those visiting Sable Island may also spot “weird critters,” such as a Portuguese man of war, a type of jellyfish that can end up ashore.
Donaldson said the island’s unusual history includes it having somewhat briefly serving as a French penal colony centuries ago. Some 16 French convicts along with 10 guards were sent to Sable Island but didn’t receive the necessary regular supplies and “bedraggled ” survivors end up being relocated.
Sable Island has also seen some 350 shipwrecks.
Adventure Canada says that visiting Saint-Pierre gives the sailing an interesting cultural twist.
“You can go to France without crossing the Atlantic,” the company’s Martin Aldrich stated.