Véronique Lesage

Cetacean research scientist, Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Maurice Lamontagne Institute/Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Email: veronique.lesage@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

To better understand whales in peril

While working on her Bachelor’s degree at Laval University, Véronique Lesage participated in a study on the energetics of eider ducks. She was fascinated by the fragile equilibrium that exists between the physical condition and the feeding strategies of these diving birds. She realized that marine mammals faced similar challenge, as friends of hers were doing similar studies on these animals. Add to this well kept secrets and the gracefulness of marine mammals and it’s easy to understand how she was smitten. Instead of starting a master’s thesis on algae, as planned, she found herself working with Mike Hammil of Fisheries and Oceans Canada studying the effects of sound on beluga whales. She followed up with a doctoral thesis on harbour seals; another threatened marine mammal species in the St. Lawrence.

She is currently working on the feeding ecology and diving behaviour of marine mammals, notably cetaceans. Her time is shared between her office at the Maurice Lamontagne Institute in Mont-Joli and work in the field. At the office, her work includes administrative duties, reviewing scientific articles, analysis of research results, writing, and meeting with colleagues. In sum, a variety of tasks to complete several projects on the following subjects: the designation of essential habitat for the St. Lawrence beluga and the blue whale, the feeding and diving behaviour of belugas and large rorquals, and the effects of noise pollution on these species. All of these projects lead her to travel and to collaborate with numerous researchers from Fisheries and Oceans, various universities and private groups.

Her job includes many challenges that Ms. Lesage accepts with enthusiasm.