Herschel Island is a small Arctic island that lies about 5 kilometres off the mainland in the northwestern part of Canada, near the border with Alaska in that part of the Arctic Ocean called the Beaufort Sea.
Sir John Franklin reached the island in 1826 and named it after his friend's scientist Sir John Herschel name. At that period of exploration starting from 1725 through 1893, 1909, 1911 and 1969, many expeditions reached areas on the Arctic Ocean, the Bering Sea, and Ross Ice Shelf.
The following article is about Herschel Island, Pauline Cove and the indigenous Inuit people. If you have more information about any of them, please share it through the form on this page. I have some useful gifts for you and other people who use that form to contribute to this page. Thanks.
The island is home to over 200 plant species and tundra flowers such as Arctic lupines, forget-me-nots, vetches and arnicas.
In addition, the marine species include Arctic flounder (flatfish), Arctic cod, Arctic char, Pacific herring, Zooplankton, Beluga whales, ringed seals, polar bears and bowhead whales that migrate to the Bering Sea in September.
Herschel Island is also home to land mammals such as Arctic fox, Arctic shrews, red fox, Porcupine caribou, tundra Voles, grizzly bears, lemmings and Musk ox (this strange animal is found also in Greenland where Ilulissat and Zackenberg lie).
There are also 94 living and migratory bird species such as Rough-legged Hawk, Black Guillemots, American Golden Plovers, Arctic terns, Snow Bunting, Lapland Bunting, Red-necked Phalaropes, Common Eider and Redpoll.
In this Arctic wilderness, you will find traces of some of the very first people who settled during the old times in Northwest America.
Among those people are the Inuvialuit indigenous people or as called Inuit people meaning the real people. They could perhaps be branch of the Eskimo people. They have their own three Inuvialuktun dialects.
The Inuvialuit who lived in Herschel Island has used the island for several thousand years, working mainly as whale hunters and one can still see many of their old huts.
At Pauline Cove, a protective harbour on the east side of the island is the well-preserved remains of the very first whaling station in the area, the Whitefish Station and the cemetery, which was attached to it.
Those remains of whalers and early settlements are dating back to 1,800 years. During that time, the American Arctic whaling ships used to sail off and in winters to Pauline Cove.
Herschel Island is enclosed by the ice from November to July, and there is no visible demarcation between the island and the mainland. The old whaling station and the cemetery are covered by ice and snow.
The average temperature in the cold season is at -27º C, but may at some averages drop down to -50º C. In summer, temperature reaches 6-7º C, but may at times be as high as 30º C.
The island lies at the layer of permafrost. In summer, the upper layer heated enough that can grow rare arctic plants and flowers. Herschel Island is a special protected site, both because of its biological significance and its cultural heritage.
The sea ice and the permafrost have protected the coastal sites of Herschel Island for hundreds of years. With the rising temperature, the sea ice will shrink, and the permafrost will melt and the coastal sites of Herschel Island will be more exposed to storms and coastal erosion.
The coastline at Pauline Cove has already moved considerably closer to the whaling settlements that put them in danger of being engulfed by the sea.
Both of the old Inuvialuit cabins and the old cemetery are exposed to changing weather conditions. If the permafrost melts and the soil becomes soft and swampy, those sites will be destroyed completely.
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