Saturday, June 28, 2014

Icebergettes: Nature’s ice sculptures

Day 26
Was there a fishing derby going on in Frederick Sound? That’s what it looked like when we departed Petersburg’s North Harbor. We had the same impression on our first visit in 2000, when those bobbing white “boats” turned out to be chunks off icebergs that had calved off of the LeConte glacier. These chunks move slowly around the area, pushed about by wind and currents. Some bergs have deep bottoms and ground on rocks and islets, while others spread out to drift farther along the Sound. A few occasionally drift into Petersburg’s north harbor, necessitating some tugboat/pushboat action from the harbor crew in their sturdy skiffs. Most bergettes just travel along slowly, changing shape and location until they melt away.

Note the eroded, undercut waterline on some of the icebergs. As the saltwater (45-degree F or less) slowly melts the submerged surfaces, the berg become top heavy and will eventually turn over. Wind, water and weather carve fantastic shapes on Nature’s floating ice sculptures and it’s fun to imagine various recognizable figures… a gila monster? an aircraft? maybe an arrow?

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