AUGUST 27, 2018
27 / 08 / 2018
Off the coast of Les Escoumins, the team from the Group for Research and Education on Marine Mammals (GREMM) is pursuing its beluga photo-ID program. The conditions are perfect, with good light and low winds. On board the Bleuvet, the team spots a herd of belugas numbering about 15 individuals, most of which are adults. The herd’s behaviour is very dynamic and the belugas are proving difficult to photograph. Fortunately, we manage to snap a picture of DL1390. On the surface, we see backs and tails appear, as well as splashes of water. Listening carefully, a research assistant even hears the belugas vocalize. Sometimes beluga herds swim in the same direction, but this time the animals seem to want to go in different directions.
All this activity on the surface intrigues the team. The drone is launched to be able to film the scene from above. Amid all this white are a few flashes of pink, which are the animals’ penises. It’s a privilege to be able to film this scene, as we do not often witness these kinds of interactions in a natural environment. What are the belugas doing? We are not in the beluga breeding season, which is in spring. Could the belugas be engaged in sexual play? Or is this a sort of training for next year’s breeding season? Only by pursuing long-term studies will we be able to better understand the reproductive health of these cetaceans.