Monday, July 5, 2010

It's a Berg Thing

High on our must do list while down North was to get up close to an iceberg. On the drive we saw a small growler and were really excited, but it was small and far out in the water. As if to tempt us even more, as we drove through St. Lunaire-Griquet near the Viking RV Park several times we could see one just beyond the island. Nice but still to far away. The ranger at L'Anse aux Meadows suggested we wait as long as possible before going on a boat tour as the whales were late coming south and were expected any time now. This would be an added bonus if we would see whales and bergs on the same trip. On our last day we drove to St. Anthony and went out with Northland Discovery Boat Tours, a family run operation of the Alcocks. Paul is a biologist and gives a great running commentary on the icebergs, birds and other sea life. His dad a former fisherman is the captain and his mom takes the reservations.
The berg that tempted us each day as we drove through St. Lunaire-Griquet. It changed a little each day as it melted and broke up.
A few of the sea birds we saw on the way out. We saw kittiwakes, gulls, Eider ducks and many others. A new concern for the people here, is the northern gannet will soon be heading south to the Gulf of Mexico and they are worried about what will happen to them because of the BP (Big Polluter) oil spill. We also caught a glimpse of a harbour seal.
After a half hour of birding and enjoying the beautiful shoreline we rounded a point into Hare Bay and saw a nice size berg about three miles away.
As we got closer we began to see the beautiful colours from the mix of sun, water and ice. It looks like a work of art.
This berg is about 100 feet above the water and 180 feet below. Only 1/8 of its mass is out of the water while 7/8 is under.
It is stuck on the bottom and will probably die right here within the next month. They don't just melt but crack and break apart so small chunks float away. Paul scooped up a floater and gave everyone some of the 10,000 year old ice. A local company sends a boat out each day to collect floaters to melt and bottle.
Don't be fooled by the sunny sky. Going to see an iceberg is not a shorts and t-shirt affair. The water is only four degrees Celsius and the head wind going out made it really cold. On the way back in we spotted one small minke whale, but the humpbacks still have not made it this far south. Oh well, getting up close with an iceberg made for a great day even without the whales.
These are a few of the bergs we have gotten close enough to photograph. We have seen many more far out to sea. Some of these are stuck in small coves and others are floating. They say it is a very slow year with fewer and smaller bergs than in the past.
Polar Bears will often make it to Newfoundland as they follow the seals on the spring ice flows. This one made it to St. Anthony in 1984 and was found dead on the harbour ice after being chased by authorities. Paul told us they were chasing it because it had tried to break into his parents' house. They got an early morning call from a neighbor who told them they had better get their gun as a bear was trying to climb through a window. Northland Discovery is a great way to get close up views of icebergs and whales if your timing is right. It was truly an awesome experience.

1 comment:

MarkandRenita said...

Why do they call a small iceberg a growler?