SABLE ISLAND, Canada, is in the North Atlantic Ocean, about 180 miles (288 km) east of Halifax, Nova Scotia. About 25 miles (40 km) long and 1 mile wide, it is the exposed portion of a sub-merged sandbank about 75 miles (120 km) long. The name “sable” is the French for “sand.” The island is being gradually worn away by the sea; formerly it was twice as long as it is now. It has been the scene of hundreds of shipwrecks, and for this reason it has often been called “the graveyard of the Atlantic.“
Sable Island’s only year-round inhabitants are the crevvs of a weather station and a radar installation. There are no trees on the island, and the only vegetation is beach grass and small bushes. About 200 wild horses, descendants of animals east ashore from a wreck some centuries ago, roam the island’s eastern portion.
In the early 1970’s, a test strike on the island found what engineers believed might be important oil deposits. Jurisdiction over Sable island has long been an issue between the governments of Canada and of Nova Scotia province. The residents votes have been counted with those of Halifax county, and any legal matters have been ruled upon by the Halifax courts.