Icebergs of Newfoundland

15 July, 2019 0 comments Leave a comment

Karen Richardson with iceberg at Freshwater NL

While touring Newfoundland this spring and summer, my husband and I were fortunate to see icebergs from shore in various regions of the province. We are pictured above with an iceberg in Conception Bay at Freshwater, near Bay Roberts on the Avalon Peninsula. 

Icebergs are edges of glaciers that have broken off and slipped into the ocean. About 90% of icebergs seen off Newfoundland and Labrador come from the glaciers of western Greenland, with the rest coming from glaciers in Canada's Arctic. 

Below is another photo of the Conception Bay iceberg with a boat nearby. I figure the height of this berg to be perhaps 50 feet above sea level.

Iceberg at Freshwater NL photo by Karen Richardson

The close-up photo below shows more detail. Over 90% of an iceberg is under water. Often they run aground in shallow coastal waters and stay in the same spot for weeks or even months before melting and disintegrating.

Iceberg at Freshwater Newfoundland photo by Karen Richardson

Below is a large iceberg we saw from Petty Harbour, near St. John's on the Avalon Peninsula. We also could see numerous chunks that had fallen off the main iceberg. Based on the size of nearby tour boats, I estimate the height of this berg to be at least 100 feet above the water line and 300 feet wide.

Iceberg at Petty Harbour NL photo by Karen Richardson

Iceberg Alley stretches from the coast of Labrador to the southeast coast of the island of Newfoundland. On a sunny spring day, 10,000-year-old glacial giants such as this one are visible from many points along the coast. They come in every shape and size, with colours from snow-white to deepest aquamarine. Late May to early June is the optimal viewing season, although we saw icebergs this year throughout July.

Pictured below is a smaller iceberg fragment seen in Trinity Bay from Heart's Delight on the Bay Roberts peninsula.

Iceberg at Hearts Delight NL photo by Karen Richardson

Several gulls were perched on the little floating island (shown below) which was about 6 feet in height above the waterline.

Iceberg and gulls at Hearts Delight NL photo by Karen Richardson

We were delighted to find an iceberg within sight of our trailer when we camped at King's Point on the Baie Verte peninsula in north central Newfoundland. Below is a photo taken from within our trailer showing the iceberg in the bay below the campground.

Iceberg at Kings Point NL photo by Karen Richardson

Shown below is a close up of the same iceberg. One of the locals who was camped next to us had used his boat and fishing net to collect some small bits of ice that were floating in the bay. These are called 'Bergie Bits' and are prized for their pure taste and high density. He gave us some to keep in our freezer to use in our drinks. You can hear the 10,000 year old air fizz out of them in your glass! Newfoundland companies also use the water from melted icebergs to make bottled water, rum, gin, vodka, beer, and candy.

Iceberg at Kings Point NL photo by Karen Richardson

We drove to the other side of the bay to get the photos below. The boat gives scale to the scene. I figure the larger iceberg on the right was about 40 feet high above sea level and the smaller one on the far left was about half that height.

Iceberg at Kings Point NL photo by Karen Richardson

We heard that the original iceberg was much larger when it first arrived in the bay several weeks before. As the iceberg periodically 'calved' (had chunks break off), the centre of gravity changed, sometimes causing the iceberg to roll over. I heard this one had turned over 6 times during its time in the bay. Here is a close up photo below.

Iceberg at Kings Point NL photo by Karen Richardson

During our stay in Newfoundland, I spoke to several tourists who had gone on iceberg viewing cruises. One person told me their tour operator said if they were close to the iceberg and heard a big cracking sound (meaning calving was imminent), passengers were to sit down in the boat immediately because the boat would have to speed away from the berg. Calving of a large segment causes a tidal wave that could endanger a small boat. If a large iceberg were to roll over with a boat nearby, the danger is even greater. And if the boat was too close, falling ice could crush it.

Even though we saw many fine specimens this year, our previous trip to Newfoundland in 2007 offered more numerous and close up views of icebergs. Apparently that was a stellar year for iceberg sightings, even on the west coast of Newfoundland. Shown below are photos I took in 2007 of icebergs in the Strait of Belle Isle between Newfoundland and Labrador.

Iceberg in the Gulf of St. Lawrence NL photo by Karen Richardson 

Iceberg in the Gulf of St. Lawrence NL photo by Karen Richardson

Newfoundland never ceases to amaze us. The coastal scenery is dramatic and beautiful every day, and is even more exciting when an iceberg comes for a visit (like 'icing on the cake' - pun intended).

I am grateful to for some of the interesting berg facts mentioned in this article.

Did you enjoy this iceberg tour? If you have comments to share, please do so using the 'Leave a Comment' button at the top of this post. 

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