Good news! Aramis, daughter of the famous humpback whale Tic Tac Toe, recently gave birth to her very first documented calf. The pair was sighted in March off the Turks and Caicos Islands.
This birth involves individuals that are very familiar to the Mingan Island Cetacean Study– which is responsible for the photo-identification catalogue of St. Lawrence humpbacks – GREMM and observers. The grandmother, Tic Tac Toe, is the daughter of Quartz. When she was younger, Tic Tac Toe was known for her exuberance: she impressed whale-watchers with her breaches and tail slapping. Now 23, she seems to have calmed down, even though she continues to impress with her occasional acrobatics.
When Tic Tac Toe and Aramis were first seen together in the Estuary in 2007, they triggered a great deal of excitement. While humpback can occasionally be seen with their young in the St. Lawrence, this was the first such observation in this part of the River. The duo seem to have grown fond of the Marine Park and return almost every year: sometimes together, sometimes separately.
Perhaps Aramis and her calf will choose the St. Lawrence as their summer feeding grounds. This would then be the second fourth-generation calf to frequent these waters! In the summer of 2019, the calf of Hockey represented the fourth generation of the Pseudo line, who in turn became a great-great-grandmother.
What were these two individuals doing off the Turks and Caicos Islands?
North Atlantic humpback whales give birth in winter in the Caribbean. Then, in spring, females and their young migrate to their summer feeding grounds, including the St. Lawrence.
Aramis and her newborn were identified thanks to underwater photographs taken by researchers from the Marine and Coastal Ecology Research Center (MCERC). The Mingan Island Cetacean Study team was able to confirm the ID.
According to initial analyses of observation data in the Turks and Caicos region, MCERC researchers are finding that humpbacks pass straight through these waters without stopping. The migration of Aramis and her calf has therefore probably already begun!