October 8, 2018
18 / 07 / 2019
Aboard the Bleuvet, we leave Tadoussac and head southwest. The research season is drawing to a close, so we are taking advantage of this windless, waveless day to fly the drone and take a few aerial photos of belugas. These photos are then analyzed to obtain measurements that help assess the animals’ physical fitness and monitor pregnancies. In this way, we wish to create a health chart for our belugas.
Off Cap au Saumon in the Charlevoix region, we spot a large herd at a considerable distance, but the closer we get, the more the belugas scatter. At last, we find a group of five to ten belugas that we photograph from the boat at the same time we take pictures of them with the drone. Back in the lab, we will cross-compare horizontal and vertical photos to learn to identify individuals from the air. Presently, we identify belugas with markings and scars on their flanks and dorsal ridges. We then find a new group, which contains a calf. We also note the presence of a beluga with deep scars: it is the female DL0129. It’s a pleasant surprise to see her again, as she had not been photographed since 2006! We snap a photo of her from the air. Will we have a chance to photograph her again this year? Will we see an evolution of her size? The remainder of our research project will tell.