A few days ago, I set sail out of Matane with a friend of mine. In the protected waters between Grosse-Roches and Les Méchins, we spotted at least ten large rorquals! These included fin whales as well as at least five blue whales, which we had the opportunity to photograph. A quick glance through my photos and I recognize B562 and B565, two blue whales that I first observed in 2018 and which were then new in the catalogue managed by the Mingan Island Cetacean Study (MICS).

This trip also produced an encounter B397, a.k.a. Doru, and B501, two blue whales that showed injuries when I photographed them (article in French) last year. These lesions appeared to have been caused by rubbing under the ice cover. Such injuries can occur when an individual finds itself trapped under an accumulation of wind-blown ice. Fortunately, both individuals seem to have recovered quite well since then!

Le rorqual bleu B397.
B397. © René Roy
Le rorqual bleu B397.
B397. © René Roy

The rest of our trip was quieter, but we still managed to see three minke whales, a large number of porpoises, as well as a few groups of harp seals. After a rather disappointing inaugural outing on May 15, I am satisfied that I was able to enjoy all these encounters during my second attempt. Considering the general uptick in the number of sightings last year, I am hopeful that MICS’ summer 2020 photo-identification season will be one to remember!

Field Notes - 27/5/2020

René Roy

René Roy is an amateur cetologist who is passionate about the sea and whales; he resides in Pointe-au-Père, in the Bas-Saint-Laurent region. For the past few years, he has undertaken photo-identification expeditions for the Mingan Island Cetacean Study (MICS), mainly in the Gaspé, with a research permit. He also volunteers for the Quebec Marine Mammal Emergency Response Network. More pictures can be seen on Facebook.

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