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The Wild Horses of Sable Island

175 km (109 mi) off the coast of Nova Scotia - June 11-19. 2016
I've just returned from a week long trip to the very remote Sable Island, Nova Scotia. It is a tiny strip of sand and grass in the north Atlantic that is best know for its population of wild horses.
 
It is situated 300 km (190 mi) southeast of Halifax, Nova Scotia, and about 175 km (109 mi) southeast of the closest point of mainland Nova Scotia.
We travelled there with Adventure Canada to film the location for The Weather Network.

Many thanks to everyone at Adventure Canada, on board the Ocean Endeavour who were just awesome.
 
The horses have been here since the mid-1700's and the population has fluctuated between about 150-450 individual horses. They were left behind by settlers, and were domestic at one point, so technically they are feral... What an amazing place!!

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Sable Island stallion with a long, flowing mane & tail.
Two stallions greeted us on the beach shortly after our first zodiac landing.
These stallions were curious about us, but then moved on.

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The horses have been here since the mid 1700's.
It is a harsh existence on a narrow strip of sand in the north Atlantic, and their population has bounced between 150 to 500 or so individuals over the years.
There are no trees on the island, just sand and space vegetation... Well, technically there is one tree, a sad, little shrub really.

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We were able to make 3 landings on the island. Surf conditions were difficult, so even the days that we did make it, were a bit tricky, but seeing the horses was well worth the effort
Sable Island is one of the foggiest places in Canada and one of the country's most hurricane-prone places.
Sand dunes and wild horses.

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One of our landing sites. Parks Canada have a small presence here, as well as an Environment Canada weather station. The island usually has about 5 people living on it.
No other land mammals live on the island, just the horses.
Because of rough surf conditions, we were only able to make 3 landings, but we saw many horses on each landing.

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The horses are the only terrestrial mammal that lives on the island.
A small group runs past me, chasing each other.
The continuous wind makes for great photos of horse manes blowing in the wind.

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Our home for the week... The Ocean Endeavour, operated by Adventure Canada.
Thousands of grey seals line the south shore of Sable Island. There are 3 ocean currents that converge here, making the waters rich in nutrients and wildlife.
A curious grey seal on the beach. Greenland sharks and great whites (among other shark species) can be found in these waters, and they find seals particularly delicious.

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A family of wild horses.
A foal, rolling in the grass... So cute.
Only a few hundred people visit the Sable Island national park reserve each year. It was a real honor to be able to come here.

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A dead horse, slowly returning to the island, providing nutrients back into the sand. The tag is a marker that scientists use to identify horses that have had they DNA analyzed.
Horse bones in the sand. There were bones scattered across the island... Horses, seals, whales... All kinds.

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