Rick Mercer tours Sable Island, Nova Scotia

Some of you already know Rick Mercer, star of CBC’s Rick Mercer Report.

He’s a character who make the most out of being a character, dashing from place to place doing everything from interviews to bungie jumping.

Here’s the video segment where Mercer plunges 160 feet into a river gorge in Whistler, B.C., with another Canadian icon, “Man in Motion” Rick Hansen. Hansen is a well-known advocate for the disabled who doesn’t let using a wheelchair stop him from much. The most surprising part of the video is that the wheelchair went on the bungie jump too. (!) You’d think that would be dangerous, but who knows? Maybe jumping in the wheelchair offered safety (in terms of body support) that flopping around would not have provided.

A few months ago a relative of mine in California sent me an email she’d received headed “BEAR COUNTING”. The sender commented the audio was pretty funny, “that guy Rick Mercer has some good lines”. (This from Americans who like funny videos of cute baby animals but have never heard of Rick Mercer.)

Two side points here: I would have thought messing around with a mother bear with new cubs would be among the least advisable activities imaginable. Apparently, though, this is run-of-the-mill stuff for the researchers. Who knew? Secondly, would you get a load of the size of that radio collar? How is that not cruelty to wild animals, to attach that to a bear’s neck? It has to be uncomfortable. Not to mention something other bears might take exception to. (It sort of makes those “I was abducted and studied by aliens” tabloid stories seem plausible. Hey, it happens to bears!)

A long way from everywhere else–Cable Sable Island Lighthouse. Photo: Dennis Jarvis, CC some rights reserved

Anyway, I wanted to share a segment from a recent Mercer Report show which visits Sable Island.

Why? Well, because Sable Island is hard to get to, that’s why. It’s a long sandy crescent some 300 km (186 miles) SE of Halifax. It’s roughly 26 miles long and less than a mile wide at its thickest point.

Nicknamed “the graveyard of the Atlantic” it’s known for its population of wild horses, pretty seals and for sandy shoals that have brought many a ship to grief (350 known wrecks since 1583).

The island was recently made into a National Parks Reserve. (Additional personal curiosity stems from one of my grandfathers studying plants on that remote island way back in 1913.) More general info on the island and its history can be found on this Wikipedia entry.

Mercer delivers beer, chats up a weather scientist, releases a weather balloon, talks to the wild horse expert, attempts to sketch a wild horse (“that kind of looks like a puppy” says horse expert Zoe Lucas), admires the seals and discovers swimming is not recommended on account of the sharks.

Check out the part at 2:30 into the video where Mercer teases the poor weather guy about whatever comments he might have on climate change. (None, really.) This is a dig at a general perception the current government has a policy of muzzling scientists. (Government officials claim they don’t. But many facts suggest otherwise.)

I’m not sure when – if ever – I’d actually get a chance to go to Sable Island, so thanks Rick, for that vicarious tour.

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