Passion for minke whales

In the 1970s, a few years after Canada had ended commercial whaling, a small number of researchers intrigued by these animals were drawn to the St. Lawrence. Ned Lynas was among these pioneers. He had just finished his graduate studies in behavioural ecology at Knightsbridge University and at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. It was aboard a small steel-hulled ship, Le Béluga, moored in Tadoussac’s dry dock, that he spent his first summers studying the whales of the St. Lawrence, initially belugas and later rorquals. The list of Ned Lynas’ interests is impressive: rorqual feeding techniques and strategies, distribution, surface breathing and movement patterns, photo-identification and acoustic signatures, etc. But it was the minke whale in particular to which Mr. Lynas devoted the better part of his career, a poorly understood species despite being present in all the world’s oceans. Thanks to his talents as an observer, his patient work and his enthusiastic team, he succeeded in putting names to the faces of these small giants and getting a glimpse into their lives.

In 1978, Ned Lynas founded ORES – Ocean Research and Education Society – a non-profit organization now based in Les Bergeronnes, a small village of the Côte-Nord region, a few kilometres from Tadoussac. This organization is dedicated to conducting research on marine mammals and their environment using the least invasive methods possible. For 25 years, he spent his summers where he most liked to be, i.e. the research station in Les Bergeronnes, on the water, with the animals and working with students from around the world. He spent his winters in Toronto securing research funding, recruiting students and interns for the following summer, analyzing his data, drafting reports, and – what he loved the most – sharing his knowledge at conferences. Moreover, from 1990 to 2002, Mr. Lynas was a senior speaker for San Francisco State University.

Ned Lynas unfortunately passed away in 2002. The ORES torch was then passed on to his Swiss accomplice : Ursula Tscherter. Ned Lynas’ curiosity, dedication and passion will remain forever etched in the memories of those fortunate enough to have known this great Canadian biologist.