Iceberg watchers are preparing for a big year for bergs

It’s early in the season, but tourism operators and iceberg enthusiasts in Newfoundland and Labrador are already preparing for a busy iceberg season.

'When you’re seeing icebergs this early, it’s a good sign,' says tour operator Chris Scott

Two icebergs poke out of the ocean with the shore far in the distance.
Chris Scott says the first iceberg of the season was spotted in the waters off Twillingate on Monday. (Twillingate Adventure Tours/Facebook)

It's early in the season, but tourism operators and iceberg enthusiasts in Newfoundland and Labrador are already preparing for a busy iceberg season.

Some of the first bergs of the year were spotted near Twillingate on Monday, off the island's northeast coast.

Chris Scott, owner and operator of Twillingate Adventure Tours, says after a great year in 2023, it's encouraging for this season to see icebergs in the early spring. 

"We had a record year last year for icebergs, but I think it's still going to be a great season. It's shaping up to be that way anyway, and when you're seeing icebergs this early, it's a good sign," he said.

Scott said ice charts show plenty of icebergs heading for Twillingate, and any onshore winds help to bring them toward the island — along with the tourists trying to catch a glimpse of the bergs.

"Any time there's a lot of northerly wind in the spring of the year, it increases your chance, let's just say, of having a good iceberg season," he said.

"We're getting a lot of that [wind] now and there's icebergs coming down, so I've got my fingers crossed.… I think you're in good shape with the icebergs this year."

Interest in icebergs increasing

Interest in icebergs is growing, according to Scott, and that's led to a record number of bookings on his tours for the coming tourist season.

"Maybe that was all about last year, but I don't think they're going to be disappointed when they get here this year," he said.

"If we need to, we'll put on extra tours. It's very important for some people to see icebergs — they come a long way to see icebergs, and, you know, you want to give people the best chance to see icebergs."

Diane Davis, the administrator of the Newfoundland Iceberg Reports Facebook page, is also seeing more interest in the bergs, with photos from all over beginning to fill the page.

"The first summer, I ended up with 800 people and thought it was a grand success. Last year, we started with 43,000 in March and we're up to 78,000 now," she said.

As the group grows, with more people from Newfoundland and Labrador and abroad, Davis has eyes on all the bergs around the province.

"We have so many resident members, we're getting the early bergs now, we didn't used to get them," she said.

"All of a sudden I realized how many people I've got in Griquet."

Bergs a financial boon

Davis said the icebergs can also bring money into nearby communities, drawing people to towns they might not have otherwise visited.

"A lot of people don't realize the economic impact of icebergs. If your community has an iceberg and you're smart enough, if there's no restaurant or store there, put up a lemonade stand with iceberg ice, your kid will be taken care of for the summer," she said.

The iceberg Facebook page has now become a useful source of information for locals and tourists alike.

"People are so excited when they get to post their first iceberg," she said.

Scott also said he loves being able to show off icebergs — and his hometown — to visitors from all over the world.

"I see people's faces light up when they see icebergs. It sells itself, it's just an amazing experience," Scott said.

"It's an experience you can't get many places. Newfoundland, of course, is one of the places you've got to come to see it. That's why, I guess, our tourism keeps growing."

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With files from CBC Newfoundland Morning

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