Icebergs around New Zealand. It could end in tears!

November 26th, 2009 § 2 comments - add yours

It gives me the willies when we have icebergs turn up around the New Zealand coastline and tourism operators go wild. Silly stuff happens and I’m worried someone’s going slip up without good knowledge. I’m always up for a laugh, but from experience people don’t know what they’re playing with. The worst will happen sometime, it’s an odds game and there’s no warning before things get serious. Icebergs seem beautiful and benign, but so did the mythical Sirens of Sirenum scopuli luring mariners with their song. Check this out….

Temporary New Zealander shearing Shrek on iceberg

Temporary (?) New Zealander shearing Shrek on fragile iceberg! ©NHNZ

Why do I worry? I’ve had a load of experience showing people icebergs and I’ve learnt and seen a few things that would make the hair on your neck stand up. I’ve had over a dozen trips and over 6 months of taking people to see icebergs in Antarctic and the Arctic and I’ve seen and photographed some unexpected things from the close up of the zodiac boats I drive around them. We’re trained to read them and work with respect.

Major misconception: Icebergs don’t melt away – they die, often violently. Bits break off, the balance changes, and they start rolling. When they roll, more bits break off and a chain reaction starts that can ultimately break a big berg into many small bits very quickly. The forces are unbelievable. Check out this photo I took in cold water off Antarctica of a ‘new’ iceberg (not a rotten weathered berg off NZ in warm water) collapsing without notice.

Click for full size showing diagram of collapse

Click for full size showing diagram of collapse

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