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The Wild Horses of Sable Island

A collection of stunning photo works by Roberto Dutesco, The Wild Horses of Sable Island is a story worth telling over and over again… A fragile sliver of sand more than one hundred miles off the coast of Nova Scotia is sending the world a message. This tiny, windswept island sits at the center of what is known as “the Graveyard of the Atlantic,” and, since the seventeenth century, its shoals have been the site of more than 475 shipwrecks. This slender island—Sable Island—42 km in length and just 1.5 km wide, is home to more than four hundred wild horses. Abandoned there by sailors long ago or cast ashore from wrecks on the many sandbars that surround the island, this feral herd has managed to thrive in an austere, unforgiving environment that offers not a single sheltering tree and just sea grass and rainwater ponds for sustenance.

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Roberto Dutesco has been revealing the beauty of nature and the human spirit through his photography for more than three decades. He first learned of Sable Island and its wild horses in 1994 and made his first trip to the island that same year.

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Sable Island has been evolving as a barrier island during the past several thousand years of postglacial time as the sea has slowly risen over the Continental Shelf. Southerly storm waves have driven sands from the seabed onto the south shore. Currents related to the Gulf Stream cause a northeast drift of beach material along this shore, slowly extending the island in that direction.

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The wild horses are now the only terrestrial mammals on Sable Island. They exhibit great variability in size, conformation and color and most closely resemble the Spanish barb, a small, tough horse that originated in North Africa, and the Acadian horse, the common working horse of the Atlantic Provinces from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries.

The Collection