The wife and I were feeding chickadees on the AK Sculthorpe Marsh Trail in Port Hope last week. As we walked, we heard what sounded like a whale “spouting” out on the lake. We came to a spot where we could see the lake through the bushes and peered about. There was no sound. As we stood there straining our ears, a huge wave crashed into the piled-up ice chunks just offshore. A few seconds later, we heard the hollow WHOOOOSH ! sound again. But this time we saw mist shoot out of a large hole in the side of an “ice volcano”. Ice volcanoes form when ice piles up, then gets snowed upon to produce humps, very similar in appearance to a mountain range in the distance. Water, forced by wave action, will tunnel under the ice and burst through the top of some, blasting water &/or mist from the peak. When this happens, it’s called an ice volcano.
But the peak on this volcano was plugged, so the water pressure blew a hole out the side. It left a rather convincing dragon’s den-like opening. Turn up your volume and it’ll sound (and look) like a huge sleeping creature’s breath spewing from the mouth of a cave.
Of course, I didn’t have my camera with me, so we raced Home and returned with it, and a tripod. The next day the “cave” opening was plugged with snow and there was nothing happening. We expected that, hence, the scramble to get the camera immediately.
“Erupting” ice volcanoes are rare, but not uncommon, and the shore of Lake Ontario has a great deal of potential this year. Anytime we have a stiff breeze from the South just take a walk along the shore, watch, and listen.
If nothing else, show your kids this video and tell them the dangers of walking over shore ice toward the lake. “Everyone says the ice isn’t safe. But it’s not the ice, it’s the Ice Dragons you gotta watch out for ! They’ll freeze you with their icy breath and then eat you like a popsicle !”. Keep a straight face and (depending on their age) you just might keep your kids that much safer this Winter and Spring. Glad I could help.