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

Revenue Canada, RCMP don’t accept Bitcoin: police

RCMP issue Bitcoin warning posters

Mat program not quite ready to open its doors

Committee hopes to bring people out from the cold with overnight shelter program

Ponoka County writes off quarter of a million in taxes

Bankrupt energy companies hitting county financially

Canada to bolster screening of central China passengers for virus at 3 airports

Additional measures will include messaging on arrivals screens in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver

Rebels fight back from 3-1 Raider lead to win 4-3 in shootout

Two goals by Zak Smith key to Rebels comeback

PHOTOS: Eastern Newfoundland reeling, search underway for missing man after blizzard

More than 70 centimetres of new snow fell overnight, creating whiteout conditions

Prince Harry, Meghan to give up ‘royal highness’ titles

‘Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family,’ says Queen Elizabeth II

RCMP Major Crimes Unit lays charges in Stettler death

Nicholas Climb Johnson, 32, of Stettler is charged with second degree murder in the death of his father

‘Manny’s Motel’ badly damaged by fire Jan. 15

Police say 40 Ave. closed due to fire, use alternate route

Metis nations ask Ottawa to negotiate directly with them, not national body

Three provincial Metis nations will work through the national council until after the federal government releases its 2020 budget

Canada to give $25,000 to families of each Canadian who died in Iran plane crash

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also made it clear that Canada still expects Iran to compensate victims

Oil and gas industry applauds top court’s dismissal of B.C.’s Trans Mountain case

The high court’s ruling Thursday removes one of the remaining obstacles for the project

Most Read