The 45° tilt of the rocks, seen in many other places in Cape Breton, is especially noticeable in photo #1. From the angle this photo was taken, the uppermost portion has a striking similarity to a human head, mouth agape.
In the detail of this “head” in photo #2, that resemblance has pretty much disappeared; rather, it is the sharpness of the rocks and the fractured strata of many of them that captures one’s attention. It seems that both ends of Hertford Island have extremely sharp rocks protruding, from what processes I can only speculate.
I did not think to ask our tour guide how long this end of the island has had its current appearance. How recent is the rubble seen left of the centre of photo #1? Surely, at some time in the past, the island must have extended up above where that rubble now lies. The “head” shape itself seems rather precarious; how long is it likely to remain in place?
In photo #3, which shows more of the northeastern shores and gives a much better representation of the vegetation covering the rocks, the process can be seen in action. Waves and ice slowly carve out caves that progressively enlarge over the years, eating ever further into the island, weakening the rocks above them until eventually the force of gravity brings them down in a pile of rubble. Notice the fallen rocks at the foot of the whitish-grey rock face at the left of photo #3; not many have yet fallen there, but how much longer will the rocks beneath the grass above be able to carry their load? Eventually, they too will join those already there.
The rocky islet at the far right of the photo and the rocks just barely above water between it and the northwestern tip likely testify to the extent of the island a long time ago.
In photo #3, one can also catch a glimpse of Ciboux Island beyond the tip of Hertford Island. The rocky islets with the same orientation as these islands found between them make one wonder if at one point in the distant past the two islands might not have been one, as in the Mi’kmaq legend.