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)

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

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
104 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

IH is reporting the new numbers since Friday, Nov. 20

USA Today ranked the City of Rossland as it’s top Canadian ski town, and no. 2 in all of North America, while Nelson was ranked no. 10 overall. Photo: Jim Bailey.
Rossland and Nelson rank among top North American ski towns

USA Today ranked two West Kootenay communities among Top 10 Ski Towns in North America

Trail RCMP seized illicit drugs, cash and a weapon following a traffic stop in West Trail on Nov. 18. Photo: Trail RCMP
West Kootenay man, woman face drug charges after traffic stop

Police report that three types of illicit drugs were seized as well as cash and a Taser

With new Provincial Health Orders, area sports teams will suspend all travel including the Trail Smoke Eaters and Trail minor hockey rep teams and some house teams. Photo: Jim Bailey.
New COVID regs suspend junior and minor hockey rep play

All West Kootenay travelling hockey teams have been grounded until Dec. 7

People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19 cross a street in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, November 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. reports 17 COVID deaths, 1,933 new cases as hospitalizations surge over the weekend

There are 277 people in hospital, of whom 59 are in ICU or critical care

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers at the project site in Kitimat. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared last Thursday (Nov. 19). (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
Forty-one positive COVID-19 cases associated with the LNG Canada site outbreak in Kitimat

Thirty-four of the 41 cases remain active, according to Northern Health

Workers arrive at the Lynn Valley Care Centre seniors home, in North Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday, March 14, 2020. It was the site of Canada’s first COVID-19 outbreak in a long-term care facility. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Rapid tests ‘not a panacea’ for care homes, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. lacks capacity for daily tests of thousands of workers

(Delta Police Department photo)
Cannabis edibles found in Halloween bag lead B.C. police to illegal lab

Delta police arrested a man and a woman while executing a warrant at a residential property Nov. 20

A woman being arrested at a Kelowna Value Village after refusing to wear a mask on Nov. 22.(@Jules50278750/Twitter)
VIDEO: Woman arrested for refusing to wear mask at Kelowna Value Village

RCMP claims the woman was uncooperative with officers, striking them a number of times and screaming

B.C. Liberal MLA Shirley Bond questions NDP government ministers in the B.C. legislature, Feb. 19, 2020. (Hansard TV)
Cabinet veteran Shirley Bond chosen interim leader of B.C. Liberals

28-member opposition prepares for December legislature session

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, November 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-19: What do rising positivity rates mean for B.C.? It’s not entirely clear

Coronavirus cases are on the rise but the province has not unveiled clear thresholds for further measures

A rider carves a path on Yanks Peak Saturday, Nov. 21. Two men from Prince George went missing on the mountain the next day. One of them, Colin Jalbert, made it back after digging out his sled from four feet under the snow. The other, Mike Harbak, is still missing. Local search and rescue teams went out looking Monday, Nov. 23. (Sam Fait Photo)
‘I could still be the one out there’: Snowmobiler rescued, 1 missing on northern B.C. mountain

As Quesnel search and rescue teams search for the remaining rider, Colin Jalbert is resting at home

More than 70 anglers participated in the bar-fishing demonstration fishery on Sept. 9, 2020 on the Fraser River near Chilliwack. DFO officers ticketed six people and seized four rods. A court date is set for Dec. 1, 2020. (Jennifer Feinberg/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Anglers ticketed in Fraser River demonstration fishery heading to court

Sportfishing groups started a GoFundMe with almost $20K so far for legal defence of six anglers

Most Read