Sable Island lies off Canada’s Nova Scotian coast. A shape-shifting ghost of an island, it is in fact more a sandbar, adrift in the Atlantic, wandering to the east or west with the storms that so frequently batter it – but somehow never tipping over the nearby Continental Shelf.
The bane of sailors for many generations, it declines to stay exactly where it is on the sea charts, and is so low that it can often not be seen until an unfortunate ship is almost in its clutches. As a result, its beaches have been littered over the years by hundreds of shipwrecks. These have attracted both the notorious “wreckers,” who scavenged for whatever they could “salvage,” and were suspected of occasionally doing away with any witnesses who had the temerity to survive, and the employees of the Humane Establishment, set up for the rescue of shipwreck victims.
Anchored roughly by tough vegetation, surprisingly supplied with fresh water in the middle of salt, inhabited by hardy wild horses descended from Acadian ponies left on the island in 1756, Sable is an amazing place, and the authors have done it justice in this engaging and often lyrical book.
Marq de Villiers and Sheila Hirtle live in Port Medway, Nova Scotia. Their previous collaborations include Sahara and Into Africa. De Villiers won a Governor General’s Award in 1999 for Water: The Fate of Our Most Precious Resource.
“A Dune Adrift brings one of Canada’s — and the world’s — lesser known wonders to life in an entertaining, informative way.”
— Canadian Geographic