The term “iceberg” most likely originates from the Dutch term “ijsberg” which means ice mountain.
With a 29,000 km (18,020 mile) spectacular coastline, it isn’t difficult to encounter these magnificent 10,000 year old relics from many points along NL’s northern and eastern coasts.
It may also come as a surprise but not all icebergs are snow white but come in a deep aquamarine color too. Their shades are as varying as their shapes and sizes.
Growing up in Newfoundland and Labrador, I spent many spring and summer days hiking the hills of Signal Hill and encountering these majestic chunks of ice. It is a truly awe inspiring and humbling experience to be up close and personal with an iceberg.
Where Do Icebergs Come From?
90% of icebergs seen off Newfoundland and Labrador’s coastline originate from the West Greenland Glaciers. The remaining 10% come from Canada’s Arctic Glacial Islands.
How Big Are Icebergs?
Arctic icebergs vary in size ranging from a large piano called ‘growlers’ to the dimensions of a 10-story building (greater than 10 million tonnes). Icebergs about the size of a small house are called ‘bergy bits’.
Icebergs are carried alongside our shores by the Labrador Current at an average drift speed of 0.7 km (0.4miles)/hour. However, speeds greater than 3.6 km (2.2 mile)/hour have been documented. They are among the fastest moving bergs in the world
Each year, roughly 40,000 medium to large sized icebergs break off or ‘calve’. Roughly 400-800 reach as far south as St. John’s.
Unfortunately, for the Titanic, her maiden voyage was on a doomed collision course at the very tail end of the treacherous iceberg alley, 596 km (370 miles) south-southeast of Newfoundland.
Today, icebergs continue to pose a threat, not for vessels given advances in nautical science, but for the oil and gas platforms situated off Newfoundland.
When Are The Best Times To See Icebergs?
In Labrador, peak iceberg season runs between April and July. In Newfoundland, between early/mid-May and late June/early July. These time-frames vary due to environmental conditions.
Where Are The Ideal Iceberg Vantage Points?
Fortunately for us, as passionate promoters of rural tourism and ‘off the beaten path’ travel, the ideal spots for seeing icebergs are ‘around da bay‘ (a colloquial term for rural NL).
At these locales, you will most certainly be mesmerized by the daunting beauty of icebergs. All the while soaking up true NL outport hospitality amidst quaint, charming towns, villages and coves.