Early, photogenic iceberg raises expectations for Newfoundland’s season

Most of the ‘bergs floating down the east coast area known as Iceberg Alley come from Greenland

People check out an iceberg from Signal Hill in St.John’s, N.L., Sunday, April 21, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Holly McKenzie-Sutter)

This historic port city welcomed an unexpected early guest on Easter weekend: a sizable iceberg, a ridge of white framed between the hills of the Narrows leading into the city’s harbour.

Visible from downtown, the photogenic ’berg drew excited locals and tourists to trails along the city’s iconic Signal Hill on Sunday, and raised expectations for this year’s iceberg season.

READ MORE: How an instantly iconic Newfoundland iceberg became a Canada Post stamp

The ‘berg’s early arrival is a good sign for the lucrative industry that offers tourists a look at the frozen formations, most often seen drifting down the coast of the island from May through the summer months.

Barry Rogers, whose Iceberg Quest Ocean Tours operates out of St. John’s and Twillingate off the island’s northeast coast, said there have already been upwards of 20 icebergs sighted in the Twillingate area, suggesting a rewarding few months ahead for iceberg chasers.

“I’m very optimistic about this season now,” Rogers said. ”It’s a darn good sign to have had this much ice around in our Twillingate area in particular.”

The 2018 season brought relatively few ‘bergs close to areas with high tourist traffic, though local Facebook groups and Instagram pages documented sightings across Newfoundland’s coastal communities.

Meteorologist Brian Walsh posted on Twitter that 2019 “should be a good tourist season for icebergs,” as wind patterns drive more of them closer to Newfoundland’s coast.

Most of the ‘bergs floating down the east coast area known as Iceberg Alley come from Greenland after breaking off of 10,000-year-old glaciers and falling into the sea.

Despite last year’s small showing, the island’s iceberg season has captured the word’s attention year after year, with striking images that show off the sheer scale of the icebergs against small boats and buildings.

One towering iceberg drew a flood of onlookers to Ferryland, a town of about 500, in April 2017, and made headlines in global media including The New York Times, CNN, BBC, Time, The Guardian and Russia’s state-backed news channel.

After being in business for over 10 years, Rogers said he doesn’t get tired showing off the beautiful natural phenomenon to tourists and locals who don’t seem to get weary of seeing the contours, changing light and reflections while out on the water.

Some of the wonder comes from what’s left unseen, Rogers said, given that about 90 per cent of an iceberg’s mass is submerged under water.

“You have to really let your imagination kick in to be able to think about that full volume,” Rogers said. “That intrigues a lot of people, the beautiful colourations and so on.”

While onlookers gathered on land Sunday, St. John’s photographer Alick Tsui was down with Rogers and his team on the water for an up close and personal look at the floating spectacle.

“From my estimate, the ‘Easter Berg’ is about 6 metres high and 60 metres in length. It is a beautiful flat tabular small berg,” Tsui wrote in a blog post.

Tsui has shot many iceberg photos over the years but said he doesn’t tire of the chase — he was considering driving to Bonavista, about three hours up the coast, to shoot photos this weekend but was lucky enough to catch the St. John’s ‘berg by staying close to home.

His iceberg chases have taken him up and down the island, and he said he recommends friends come to visit during iceberg season to catch the special sights known to arrive at many Newfoundlanders’ doorsteps.

“In Twillingate two years ago, I sat down on a hill and watched an iceberg for three hours watching the boats pass by and seeing the waves cutting on the iceberg,” Tsui said.

“If you are lucky enough you can see one of the icebergs that splits into little pieces and that will be amazing. The sound it made was so loud, I mean, you could never, never forget it.”

Holly McKenzie-Sutter, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Trail Blazers: The tradition of Little League baseball

Trail Blazers is a weekly series in partnership with the Trail Museum and Archives

School District 20 prepped and ready for schools to reopen

Students will return to school Monday with provincial pandemic protocols firmly in place

Trail Smoke Eaters owner awaits word on BCHL future

Smoke Eaters owner Rich Murphy is hopeful that the BCHL will return to the ice in the fall

City of Rossland asks motorists to be mindful of four bears roaming around Trail hill

The bears have been seen multiple times along the highway this month

Geotechnical work set to get underway at Rossland Museum

Crews will be working at the museum from June 1 to 12

B.C. legislature coming back June 22 as COVID-19 emergency hits record

Pandemic restrictions now longer than 2017 wildfire emergency

Feds delay national action plan for missing and murdered Indigenous women

Meanwhile, the pandemic has exacerbated the violence facing many Indigenous women and girls

B.C.’s essential grocery, hardware store employees should get pandemic pay: retail group

Only B.C.’s social, health and corrections workers are eligible for top-ups

COLUMN: Canada needs to remember rural communities as thoughts turn to pandemic recovery

Small towns often rely on tourism, which has been decimated by COVID-19

Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto vying to be NHL hubs, but there’s a catch

The NHL unveiled a return-to-play plan that would feature 24 teams

B.C. sees 9 new COVID-19 cases, one death as officials watch for new cases amid Phase Two

Number of confirmed active cases is at 244, with 37 people in hospital

Nanaimo senior clocked going 50 km/hr over limit says her SUV shouldn’t be impounded

RCMP say they can’t exercise discretion when it comes to excessive speeding tickets

Illicit-drug deaths up in B.C. and remain highest in Canada: chief coroner

More than 4,700 people have died of overdoses since B.C. declared a public health emergency in early 2016

CMHC sees declines in home prices, sales, starts that will linger to end of 2022

CMHC said average housing prices could fall anywhere from nine to 18 per cent in its forecast

Most Read