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Articles tagged as 2019 Newfoundland Trip (view all)

A Whale of a Tale in Newfoundland

13 September, 2019 1 comment Leave a comment

Baby Beluga photo by Karen Richardson

As my husband and I explored the island of Newfoundland earlier this summer, we were thrilled to see the wildlife for which this province is famous: whales, moose, caribou, and puffins.
Today I am sharing our 'Whale Tales'. Sometimes their visits were brief and far-off, but on a few occasions I was close enough to take a video.

The photo above shows a baby Beluga whale surfacing at North West Brook, near Clarenville on the Bonavista Peninsula. The reason we were there to see it was because of a couple of tips from the locals.

We were camped at a golf course that also had a small RV park, way out in the boonies near Hatchet Cove, which is on the north shore of the Southwest Arm of Random Sound (a long skinny fjord off of Trinity Bay). A lady at the Clarenville tourist info centre recommended we take a drive along the south shore of Southwest Arm on highway 204, because there was a very pretty fishing port out at the mouth of the fjord.

Southport Newfoundland photo by Karen Richardson

We took her advice the next day and thoroughly enjoyed the drive on a very hilly, windy, bumpy road out to Southport, pictured above and below.

Southport Newfoundland photo by Karen Richardson

On our way back, we drove into all the little hamlets and villages along the route. Some of them only had a handful of houses. One place with the charming name of Little Heart's Ease had a pull-off with a picnic table, on a high cliff overlooking Southwest Arm. The view was so stunning I had to stop for a photo. I'm pretty sure the spot was private property because there was a little house on the back lot and the friendly owner came out to chat with us.

She had lived in Ontario for a while but came back as a senior to live with her sister in Little Heart's Ease. While we were chatting, a neighbour woman called over "Did you see the whale?". We looked down at the bay again and, sure enough, in the distance we could see a whale surfacing (see its black back in the photo below). 

Little Heart's Ease Newfoundland by Karen Richardson

The first lady let us know about a baby Beluga whale that had been visiting the marina at North West Brook for the last several weeks. She gave us directions to the marina and we eventually figured out how to access it and stomped our feet on the docks to call the whale. Amazingly, it surfaced near us within a minute and was about the size of a dolphin.

I made the 3-minute video below of the young whale feeding and swimming near us. (Please excuse the wind noise.)

While we were staying on the Avalon Peninsula, my husband heard on the radio that humpback whales were visiting St. Mary's Bay off of St. Vincent. We made a day trip down there and joined several other people on the beach watching the show from shore (see below).

Watching Humpback Whales at St. Vincent Newfoundland photo by Karen Richardson

According to the very informative plaque posted on this beach, each spring about 1500 humpback whales journey from the Caribbean to the shores of Newfoundland, to feed on the annual capelin spawn. In late June or early July, millions of tiny silver fish called capelin gather in the shallow waters close to shore. They come to mate and deposit their eggs in the sand.

During their stay at St. Vincent's, an adult Humpback whale consumes up to 2500 kg of capelin each day. The whales can be seen exploding to the surface with water and capelin pouring from their mouths.

We could see large flocks of seabirds feeding on capelin and about a dozen black and white whales jumping and spouting way out in the bay. Unfortunately they were too far out to photograph well.

We also saw Humpback whales and an iceberg in one spot, completely by coincidence, while staying at King's Point in north central Newfoundland. When we arrived at the campground overlooking the bay we discovered the iceberg. The lady working at the campground store told us to take a certain road to the other side of the bay to get a better view of the iceberg (shown below).

Iceberg at Kings Point Newfoundland photo by Karen Richardson

While I was photographing the iceberg I heard a whale blow and was thrilled to be able to photograph a mother and calf surfacing and blowing (below).

Mother and baby Humpback whales at Kings Point Newfoundland photo by Karen Richardson

I compiled this 3-minute video showing icebergs and whales in the bay:

All of the whale sightings we experienced in Newfoundland were from shore. If you visit this beautiful province and want to see whales, I recommend you find a tour company that can take you by boat to get a closer view. 

The best whale watching day we have experienced was in September 2003 in the Bay of Fundy off of Grand Manan, New Brunswick. We went out on a 40 foot sail boat (their sign is pictured below). Afterwards I spoke to one of the other passengers who was a professional photographer who had done this cruise every summer for the last 14 years and he said this was the best whale sighting day he ever had experienced.

Whale Watching Grand Manan NB photo by Karen Richardson

We saw a basking shark that was longer than our boat (we knew this because the shark came alongside our boat) and later on we drifted beside a North Atlantic Right Whale and her calf for about 45 minutes (shown below). They were filter feeding at the surface. The captain used sail power to make sure we didn't get too close and disturb the whales with the noise of a motor. We felt privileged to have encountered these rare creatures, which are now listed as an endangered species.

Whales in Bay of Fundy photo by Karen Richardson

Having had such a rare and wonderful whale watching opportunity, we don't bother going on any more whale cruises. How could we beat that day?!

The other piece of advice I would offer other tourists is to take every opportunity to speak to the local people of Newfoundland. They are proud of their piece of paradise and are happy to let you know about icebergs, whales, and any other exciting things to see in their area.

Where was your favourite whale watching experience? If you have comments to share, please do so using the 'Leave a Comment' button at the top of this post.

Subscribe to Karen's Newsletter if you wish to see more travel tales, painting stories, studio news updates, or notices of upcoming painting classes and exhibitions.

Top 14 Vistas of Newfoundland

17 August, 2019 8 comments Leave a comment

Western Brook Pond Newfoundland photo by Karen Richardson

As my husband and I explored the island of Newfoundland earlier this spring and summer, often I felt compelled to use the 'panorama' function on my camera to record beautiful vistas. I found that standard 'landscape' format would not capture  the scope of many impressive views. This happened so often that I decided to present my best panoramic photos in this post to try to convey the vast beauty of ‘The Rock’.

The scene above is Western Brook Pond, the jewel of Gros Morne National Park on Newfoundland's west coast. The Long Range Mountains, the most northern section of the Appalachian Mountains, flank this freshwater fjord, which has 650 metre cliffs and is up to 165 metres deep. The Park covers 1805 square km and its natural beauty and unique geology earned Gros Morne UNESCO World Heritage status in 1987.

Below is Arches Provincial Park, just up the coast from Gros Morne. Three large holes have been eroded into the long rock formation by ocean waves. The beach, which stretches off in both directions, is composed of smooth round pebbles with fascinating markings. The people in this scene give a sense of scale to the rock formation.

Arches Provincial Park Newfoundland photo by Karen Richardson

The view from King's Point RV Park in the Baie Verte Peninsula (below) shows charming fishing stages in the harbour as well as the visiting iceberg. Our visit happened to coincide with capelin spawning season, so humpback whales were feeding on schools of tiny fish in the bay while we were there. We could hear the whales blow and occasionally see them surface throughout the day and evening.

Iceberg at Kings Point Newfoundland photo by Karen Richardson

We enjoyed hiking in the sunshine along the coastal trail at Sleepy Cove, near Twillingate on the north central coast of Newfoundland. In the scene below the bay on the right is part of Sea Breeze park, the site of a former copper mine, where you can camp for free and watch the sunset. I included the speedboat on the left to give life and scale to the vista.

Sleepy Cove Newfoundland photo by Karen Richardson

While in the Twillingate area, we drove to Hillgrade to have dinner and enjoy musical entertainment at a seafood restaurant on the wharf. I took several photos of the gorgeous sunset that evening (shown below).

Sunset at Hillgrade Newfoundland photo by Karen Richardson

Near Embree on the north central coast, a light rain shower was approaching in the distance and created a misty perspective in the islands shown below. The scene reminds me of a watercolour painting.

Islands near Embree Newfoundland photo by Karen Richardson

When we explored Dungeon Provincial Park at Bonavista on the north east coast, the sun broke through the clouds to illuminate the rocky peninsula pictured  below. The shadowed background enhanced the dramatic lighting in this scene. The terrain of Newfoundland is predominantly rock, sometimes with a thin layer of stony soil on top that can support only stunted trees and shrubs. But some fantastic wild berries grow in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Dungeon Provincial Park Bonavista Newfoundland photo by Karen Richardson

While most of the beaches we saw in Newfoundland were made of pebbles, gravel, or rock, there were some sandy shores. The one pictured below is Windmill Bight Beach in Lumsden on the northeast coast. Our weather was cool and windy so we didn't see any swimmers that day. 

Windmill Bight Beach at Lumsden Newfoundland photo by Karen Richardson

Acting on a tip from the locals, we drove to see an outport on the Bonavista Peninsula near Clarenville. Southport, shown below, is a scenic hamlet and active fishing harbour in Trinity Bay. There were lots of paintable subjects there so I took many photos. The late afternoon light was lovely. We also saw beluga whales that day.

Southport near Clarinville Newfoundland photo by Karen Richardson

We spent a week exploring the Burin Peninsula on the south coast of Newfoundland. This is a beautiful region that has vast flat plains as well as hilly coastlines. The photo below shows one of the historic homes remaining in what once was a busy port when the fishing industry was booming.  

Burin Peninsula Newfoundland photo by Karen Richardson

On the Avalon Peninsula on Newfoundland's southeast coast, we found many impressive coastal scenes. The one shown below is Bay de Verde, right out at the northern tip of the Bay Roberts peninsula. 

Bay de Verde Newfoundland photo by Karen Richardson

On the west side of the same peninsula, near the town of Whiteway, I took this photo below of Shag Rock. I love the serenity of this simple scene; I think it would make a great painting.

Shag Rock at Whiteway Newfoundland photo by Karen Richardson 

In photography, as in paintings, the way the light catches focal points in the landscape can make or break a scene. One day we were hiking the coastal trail at Cupids near Bay Roberts on the Avalon Peninsula and the sun shone through a gap in the clouds to illuminate this point on an island (below). This is the same kind of dramatic lighting I enjoy creating in my paintings. 

Cupids Cove Newfoundland photo by Karen Richardson

While touring the backroads of the Avalon Peninsula south of St. John's, we drove over a hill and way off in the distance I saw a series of headlands in the ocean. We stopped and I took a quick photo through the windshield of our truck. Afterwards I cropped the photo to emphasize the contrast between the sharply focused foreground trees and the misty background (below).

Avalon view near St Johns Newfoundland photo by Karen Richardson

Many people have asked me which parts of Newfoundland were highlights for me. If I were to plot the locations of these panoramic vistas on a map, you would see that they represent most of the island. That is one remarkable feature of Newfoundland: its beauty is everywhere.

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

Subscribe to Karen's Newsletter if you wish to see more travel tales, painting stories, studio news updates, or notices of upcoming painting classes and exhibitions.

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. 

Subscribe to Karen's Newsletter if you wish to see more travel tales, painting stories, studio news updates, or notices of upcoming painting classes and exhibitions.