It’s a banner year for icebergs. Come quick.
Subscribers to the Iceberg Alert from IcebergFinder.com received an email recently that put this year’s iceberg season into perspective: there were 371 icebergs visible - a great number, but it’s only what could be seen from land. People flying over the northwest Atlantic on clear days have been able to see many hundreds more.
Every year Newfoundland and Labrador’s coastline is dotted with hundreds and even thousands of bergs. So what makes this year so good? Two words: pack ice. Pack ice is regular old sea ice that forms during the winter, gradually spreading south from the Arctic. This year there was more pack ice than any season since 1994. That protects icebergs from the ravages of winter waves, so they remain big and last longer.
The icebergs are true to form in that they are coming in all shapes and sizes. There have been towers, arches, high rises, bergs with large pools of beautiful turquoise water, one with a bald eagle perched on it, and another that looked like a whale or a mermaid, depending on your point of view. There have been moody, threatening bergs on dark days and funny little bergy bits that pop up near enough to shore for amateur iceberg collectors to scoop up to chill drinks. The largest one reported to date is about 500 yards long and is stranded in a small bay on the northeast coast of Newfoundland. It’s accessible only by boat.
Boat tour operators and their clients are having a fine time following the bergs. From St. Anthony in northern Newfoundland to Witless Bay south of St. John’s it’s been nothing but bergs, bergs, bergs for the past month. Now the whales and seabirds have arrived and many visitors are experiencing the triple treat of birds, bergs and whales.
A few unexplained or unusual phenomena have been observed, too. One was a “hovering” object that was probably an atmospheric effect of sunlight shining on a berg. Another was a something falling seemingly out of the sky, but was actually a piece of ice falling from a tall berg all but invisible in a thick sea mist. UFOlogists had alternate explanations.
Photographers and selfie-takers have been posting scores of beautiful images on various websites and social media channels.
If you haven’t seen the icebergs yet, do yourself a great big favour: get on a plane and come here right now and bring a camera. It might be another decade or generation before we see anything as good as this again.