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North America / Canada Cruises / Canada

Cruises to Herschel Island

Cruises timetable and data for this port of call

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Herschel Island main data and map

Herschel Island is small by Arctic standards, measuring only about 12 by 15 kilometers. Despite this small size, the island looms large in Inuvialuit and Yukon history. Why is this? Herschel Island is the only island of any size at all on the Yukon's north coast. Therefore, it holds a special place in the local environment. In the summer, caribou herds often roam the island, especially during calving season. Fish are plentiful at the mouth of the Firth River, which is located on the mainland just opposite the island. A large, sheltered bay south of the island provides a calm expanse of ocean where migratory waterfowl gather before flying south. Most importantly, because Herschel Island extends far out into the Beaufort Sea, marine mammals such as bowhead whales, beluga whales, and ringed seals must swim around it, and close to shore, when they migrate along the Yukon north coast. This makes Herschel an excellent place to hunt these animals. Herschel Island contains two sites which were especially well suited for hunting and fishing, and which therefore saw intensive use by Inuvialuit in the past. At the southwest corner of the island is Avadlek Spit, a long, narrow spit of sand which stretches over five kilometres south of the island toward the mainland. In the summer, beluga whales congregate around the spit, caribou and musk ox travel along it, very large flocks of ducks can be found in the surrounding calm waters, and fish are plentiful as well. The other important area is Pauline Cove, near the east end of the Island. Pauline Cove is closer to the open Beaufort Sea, and is well suited for hunting ringed seals, bearded seals, and probably bowhead whales as well. In addition, Pauline Cove formed a sheltered harbour which has been used by Inuvialuit for hundreds of years, and which has been used by Eurocanadians (a general term for newcomers from the United States, Canada, or elsewhere), ranging from whaling captains to oil companies, over the past hundred years. Today, Herschel Island is a Yukon Territorial park, which is administered jointly by the Yukon government and Inuvialuit organizations. It still holds an important place in Inuvialuit life, and is used for hunting, fishing, as a travel stop, and as a summer residence.

Schedule for the upcoming cruises to Herschel Island

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