Ice balls take over Finnish beach

Amateur photographers take pictures and videos of the scene on Hailuoto Island that go viral
ice balls Small balls of ice can form in a hail storm, as shown here. But on a beach in Finland, the ocean formed balls of a much larger size. (© Alexander Ozerov -

Hailuoto Island in northwest Finland is small, remote, and home to under 1,000 people. But in early November, this nearly unknown location was home to a bizarre phenomenon that captured global attention.

Ice balls!

As in a beach filled with thousands of round orbs of frozen water. How in the world? Let's see!

Ice cubes are SO last year!


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A post shared by Risto Mattila (@rismatti) on

This phenomenon is hardly an everyday sight. Usually we see either a fully frozen body of water, or broken sheets and shards of ice that have been pounded and washed ashore by winds and waves. But these ice balls do happen from time to time. Here's how.

When small chunks of ice break off of icebergs and glaciers, they get taken for a ride by the surrounding water. Often, this ice melts and becomes one with the seawater around it. But if the water is cool enough, it stays frozen. As it moves through the sea, the ice chunks get gradually shaved and smoothed down... until those random, craggy chunks become smooth.

Move over, ice cubes!

Like an alien world

Even though this is a natural occurrence, it is still so rare that the picture of the beach at Hailuoto Island look like an alien world. (Have they finished filming all those new Star Wars movies? Because this would be an awesome location, just saying!)

We're so grateful that amateur photographers like Risto Mattila (whose Instagram we featured above) took the time to take pictures and share them. Sometimes the internet is pretty alright!

Here's a video taken by another everyday Finn, Rita Rundgren. To say it's really, really cool is an understatement...

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