From fabled island to national park

| September 26, 2014 | 0 Comments
A group of Adventure Canada travellers zip along the coast of Sable Island to make a landing in June.

A group of Adventure Canada travellers zip along the coast of Sable Island to make a landing in June.

For 28 years, I had dreamed of exploring Sable Island, seeing the wild horses that grace its enchanting dunes. In April 2014, my dream came true: I landed on the beach in a small charter aircraft for the first time.
As a conservation photographer and wilderness guide, I have had the privilege of exploring many parts of the world. For more than three decades, I have worked with Parks Canada to photograph our country’s landscapes.
For months, I had been on standby, ready to jump when there was a possibility of reaching the island, Canada’s newest national park.
We flew in from Halifax to the island, which lies 300 kilometres southeast of the city. Before landing, we flew over West Spit and I couldn’t believe my eyes. There I saw thousands of seals from the biggest colony of grey seals in the world.

Ron Kozak, left, of Markham, Ontario, and Sable Island project manager, Julie Tompa, observe a mare and her young foal.

Ron Kozak, left, of Markham, Ontario, and Sable Island project manager, Julie Tompa, observe a mare and her young foal.

Once settled, I grabbed my gear and headed for the beach to see the seals up close. I made some portraits of a perturbed pinniped and then moved away to give him some space.
Wild horses speckled the dunescapes, so I pointed my Nikon in their direction. A young colt reminded me of ancient horse drawings I had seen of pre-ice age creatures. He was wearing his thick winter coat — more like fur than hair. He appeared healthy, but others were in rough shape — their ribs sticking out after a cold winter. One fellow with a dreadlock mane nibbled at the first shoots of the year. It would be another month before nutritious grasses and sedges would really provide for these hardy equines.
I moved with a sense of urgency, eager to capture the essence of this place in the sunshine. Weather changes quickly here and fog is a constant challenge.
Before long, a fireball sunset was extinguished in the ocean. I had only been here for eight hours, and I was exhausted and elated after documenting this magical place.

A foal  (perhaps a day old) totters on its gangly legs in the sedges of Sable Island

A foal (perhaps a day old) totters on its gangly legs in the sedges of Sable Island

A band of wild horses gallops along the grass- covered dunes of West Spit.

A band of wild horses gallops along the grass- covered dunes of West Spit.

A short-beaked common dolphin leaps off a wave along the coast of Sable Island.

A short-beaked common dolphin leaps off a wave along the coast of Sable Island.

A large grey seal bull eyes the photographer on a Sable Island beach in late April.

A large grey seal bull eyes the photographer on a Sable Island beach in late April.

A sunset is reflected in a freshwater pond near Westlight, where a lighthouse has been active for more than a century.

A sunset is reflected in a freshwater pond near Westlight, where a lighthouse has been active for more than a century.

Photographer Mike Beedell named this stallion “Goldilocks.” Here he nibbles on the first spring shoots in early May.

Photographer Mike Beedell named this stallion “Goldilocks.” Here he nibbles on the first spring shoots in early May.

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Category: Delights

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