World Whale Day is the perfect opportunity to make some big announcements for belugas! Thanks to a new census method, it is now estimated that there are nearly twice as many belugas swimming in the St. Lawrence as previously believed. Another piece of good news for the species is that the government announced that the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park will quadruple in size by 2025. Now that’s good reason to celebrate!

New method for counting belugas!

Last May, an important announcement was made at the 2023 Beluga Symposium in Montréal: there are now believed to be between 1,530 and 2,180 belugas in the St. Lawrence, as opposed to the previous estimate of 889!

Although this is very welcome news, it does not mean that the population has increased. Rather, it is a new tallying method that incorporates the results of visual and photo inventories. Amongst other things, it uses more precise correction factors to adjust the counts of animals diving in those sectors where they are observed. The new estimate is considered not only more accurate, i.e. closer to the true number of belugas, but also more precise, meaning it has a smaller margin of error. An improved methodology should make it possible to better monitor the population.

It is important to remember that despite this new estimate, the population is still at risk and faces many threats on a day-to-day basis.

Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park to be expanded!

Another piece of good news was announced in Spring 2023: the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park is set to quadruple in size by 2025. But what impact will this have on the St. Lawrence beluga?

The main objective of this proposed expansion is quite ambitious: to increase the size of the park from 1,245 km2 to around 5,000 km2! Thanks to this expansion, protection measures would extend to the beluga’s feeding and resting areas. This would help bolster this population’s resilience to the multiple challenges that climate change and increased maritime traffic will inevitably bring.

Created in 1998, the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park is the result of cooperation between the federal and provincial governments. Its potential enlargement represents a decisive step in the preservation of this vital marine ecosystem and will delight all outdoor enthusiasts, cetacean lovers especially! The idea of extending the borders of the Marine Park is not new. In fact, it has been discussed for over two decades and only now has an agreement finally been reached for its implementation.

This initiative, the primary goal of which is to preserve the habitat of the St. Lawrence beluga and the overall balance of the ecosystem, aims to increase the protection of this endangered species by completely covering its transit and breeding grounds. In fact, 60% of the critical habitat of this iconic white whale currently lies outside Marine Park boundaries.

News - 19/2/2024

Équipe Baleines en direct

Recommended articles

Unravelling the Mysteries of Hybridization in Blue Whales

Hunted, threatened, decimated. The largest of giants suffered greatly at the hands of humans throughout the 20th century and is…

|News 11/4/2024

Meredith Sherrill: An Example of Tenacity for Working with Whales!

To work with whales, Meredith’s journey took her to California, Michigan, Scotland, and ultimately to Quebec! Meredith Sherrill is a…

|News 7/3/2024

Speed Reductions in the Presence of Whales Prove Effective

Have you ever wondered why speed limits are imposed in certain shipping areas? Part of the answer can be summed…

|News 29/2/2024