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Each spring, the coasts of Newfoundland and Labrador see the ice that breaks off from Baffin Bay and drifts south

The icebergs are arriving early this year in Newfoundland – and so are the people. Visitors are already flocking to the province’s famed Iceberg Alley to get the best views of the enormous calved-off glacier chunks.

The prime season for iceberg viewing typically starts in late May. But this is one of the biggest years for icebergs since 2017, said Captain Barry Rogers, the owner of Iceberg Quest Ocean Tours in Twillingate, and people from across the country have been coming to the eastern coast town to see them from the water.

“Newfoundland is special because we have the infrastructure to let people get close to the icebergs,” he said, describing them as one of “the wonders” of his province. It’s a unique experience for most visitors, especially tourists from Europe, he added.

“Everyone is leaving with a smile on their face.”

Kathryn Hewlett is among the many people hopping on boat tours to get a better look at the 10,000-year-old ice behemoths.

“I usually don’t do touristy things, I try to do reality. But I wanted to go out on the boat,” she said.

Ms. Hewlett first saw an iceberg when she was 15, and has been keeping a lookout for them since 2021 when she moved to Newfoundland. She has seen the towering ice mountains on her daily walks, but said nothing was like being right alongside them.

“They are like a snowflake – how different they all are from each other. And being able to see it close up from the water – I’m happy.”

Deborah Bourden, the owner of many hotels and restaurants in Twillingate, couldn’t say exactly how many people have visited since the icebergs started flowing this year. But she said the energy has been electric.

“There’s more tourists, there’s more activity, there’s more icebergs. There’s more of everything at this time.”

Icebergs pass Ferryland, a town of just under 400 people on the Avalon Peninsula’s southern shore. Ferryland has a premium view of ‘Iceberg Alley’ and can get packed with visitors when big blocks of ice go by, such as one in 2017 that rose to about 46 metres at its highest point.
Ice packs the harbour in Durrell, near Twillingate. Icebergs that break off from Nunavut and Greenland can sometimes take years to reach the Newfoundland coast.
For sightseers, like the ones in Spillar’s Cove, icebergs are a spectacle; but for ships like this one in St. Lunaire harbour, they can be a dangerous obstacle. The Canadian Ice Service issues daily reports to help ships nagivate the risks. Their findings also help climate scientists get a more complete picture of what is happening to Canadian waters as climate change accelerates the breakup of Arctic ice.

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