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Where Whales, Puffins and Icebergs Jostle for Your Attention

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“I never trust the mind of an iceberg,” Cecil Stockley told me. He estimates its length, multiplies by five and keeps his boat at least that distance away.

Dave Boyd said his safety rules depend on which type of iceberg he’s dealing with. “A tabular is generally pretty mellow,” Mr. Boyd explained as we floated off the coast of Newfoundland, referring to icebergs with steep sides and large, flat tops. “But a pinnacle” — a tall iceberg with one or more spires — “can be a real beast.”

Barry Rogers doesn’t just look at an iceberg; he listens to it, as well. When the normal Rice Krispies-like pop of escaping air bubbles gives way to a much louder frying-pan sizzle, the iceberg may be about to roll over or even split apart, he explained. Another clue, he said, is when a flock of seabirds perched atop the ice abruptly peels away en masse. They can feel the tremors that Mr. Rogers is straining to hear.

“Either way, if that’s happening — it’s time to get the hell out of Dodge,” he said.

Mr. Stockley, Mr. Boyd and Mr. Rogers are all skippers — with more than…

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