For nearly a month, the phone at the Call Centre 1-877-7baleine has been silent. Then, it’s just before 5 pm on November 12 and it’s getting dark, when the phone rings! The team from the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve of Canada reports the 115th incident of the season. On the shores of Île Herbée in the archipelago, a stranded dead adult beluga, whole and in good condition. A surprising find for this area! Belugas frequent the St. Lawrence Estuary in summer and head to the Gulf of St. Lawrence in late fall. Is it an early migrant or a carcass that drifted from farther away? It’s hard to say. What is known thanks to photos submitted is that the carcass appears well preserved from the outside, but everything suggests that this is a typical case of a carcass in an advanced state of decomposition internally, from which little information can be obtained on the autopsy table.

© Parcs Canada

Moreover, the site is isolated and sea conditions make it difficult to reach. The solution that becomes apparent is to sample the carcass on site. Thanks to the involvement of the Parks Canada team, skin, fat and muscle samples were collected, in addition to a liver sample for contaminant analysis, and the jaw. The teeth will be used to determine the age of this adult male beluga, which is rather old judging by its size! Indeed, this is another very large male, the second one reported this year, in addition to the one in Chandler.

Marine Mammal Emergencies - 3/12/2015

Josiane Cabana

Josiane Cabana served as Director for the Quebec Marine Mammal Emergency Response Network call centre from 2011 to 2018. When she’s not responding to cases of dead or vulnerable marine mammals, she likes to take the time to educate local residents on the threats faced by these animals. Biologist by training, she has been involved with the GREMM for more than 15 years, and always with the same undying passion!

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