Icebergs Lure Tourists to Tiny Newfoundland Town | NBC Left Field


Icebergs to us, you know, we kind of
grumble at them because in Newfoundland like, we fish, and the icebergs are in the
way. You’re leaving to go out 200 miles off, trying to get around those icebergs,
you know, they’re like a speed bump. If you run into one like the Titanic ran into
one, right? If you make your living at sea, you take what the sea gives you. In Newfoundland, the sea has given them cod. That was my life. I grew up as a fisherman.
They over-fished it. Like in the 90s, they shut it down. Then shrimp. Now the
shrimp is gone. Then crab. And now they’re cutting the crab. I mean, the crab is almost
cut in half now. As the North Atlantic has been overfished, fishermen have
turned their sights on a new bumper crop of icebergs. There’s more ice breaking
off the polar cap due to climate change so there’s more icebergs coming south. It’s
resulted in iceberg harvesting for iceberg water, beer, and vodka, but mostly the
icebergs have brought tourists. I am captain of this little tour company. I
mean, I only started last year, I bought this little boat. So once again, the sea’s
bounty is lifting up the province. People flew to Newfoundland,
you know, from Asia, from everywhere, all over the world just for an iceberg. We’re
here to visit an iceberg. This is the first time in my life. When I was a
teenager, my dream is go to Greenland. So yeah, the iceberg is come from
Greenland. There’s a few reasons for why icebergs
have become such a big draw in Newfoundland. First off, it’s basically
the only convenient place in North America to see them. These icebergs are
at least 10,000 years old when they break off the polar cap. And over
two to three years, the Labrador Current carries them south. It’s also become
easier to find them through an online map hosted by the government and people
sharing iceberg locations through social media. Now, the polar cap is indeed
melting at an unprecedented rate. Did you see the big piece? There was a big crack
in the polar cap and they were expecting a really big piece to break off. That’s
what happens for us to get icebergs. But it’s actually, counter-intuitively,
the colder winters that bring more icebergs to Newfoundland because the
pack ice protects it as they drift into comparatively warmer waters. And so last
year, there was over a 1,000 icebergs, including this one, which went totally
viral, but this year it’s been a much slower year. The winds are changed. Like
last year, like almost every day, it was northeasterly wind, but this year like
the winds are opposite, like southwest, so instead of pushing the ice toward land, it’s
pushing it off. There could be a big impact on our business for this year.
Fresh iceberg, only just caught. I got 70 people working with me that
have jobs because of icebergs. The jobs thing is a big deal.
Newfoundland has the highest unemployment of any Canadian province,
and with the decline of the fisheries, the province has strategically invested
in tourism to attract visitors to these stunning landscapes. And millennial-age
tourists now make up a sixth of all visitors. I think there’s just been a shift
in the mindset of travel. It has been fostered by Instagram and things that
makes this aspiration to be in the image. I say to people, Newfoundland is essentially
the cheaper Iceland. Tourism is growing but, you know, I can anticipate like, you
know, an end to it. Once the adventurous people see everything, will there be more
people to come? There’s two types of people, right? You got people that travel
and you got people that don’t. Like you’ve got people that live at home,
content to live home, and then do their job, and get up in the morning, go to bed
in the night, and they’ll never go to Newfoundland to see an iceberg, and they’ll, you know,
they’ll never do anything. They’ll just live their life and die. Will it be sustainable?
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