To better understand whales in peril
While working on her Bachelor’s degree at Laval University, Véronique Lesage participated in a study on the energetics of eider ducks. She was fascinated by the fragile equilibrium that exists between the physical condition and the feeding strategies of these diving birds. She realized that marine mammals faced similar challenge, as friends of hers were doing similar studies on these animals. Add to this well kept secrets and the gracefulness of marine mammals and it’s easy to understand how she was smitten. Instead of starting a master’s thesis on algae, as planned, she found herself working with Mike Hammil of Fisheries and Oceans Canada studying the effects of sound on beluga whales. She followed up with a doctoral thesis on harbour seals; another threatened marine mammal species in the St. Lawrence.
She is currently working on the feeding ecology and diving behaviour of marine mammals, notably cetaceans. Her time is shared between her office at the Maurice Lamontagne Institute in Mont-Joli and work in the field. At the office, her work includes administrative duties, reviewing scientific articles, analysis of research results, writing, and meeting with colleagues. In short, various tasks to carry out several projects on the following subjects: the identification of important habitats and their functions for beluga whales, blue whales, fin whales and right whales, foraging, diving behaviour and reproductive status of beluga and great whale populations, the effect of noise pollution on some of these species, and in the case of right whales, the assessment of collision and entanglement risks and other stressors on this population. All these projects lead her to travel and collaborate with many researchers working both in Canada and internationally.
All of these projects lead her to travel and to collaborate with numerous researchers from Fisheries and Oceans, various universities and private groups. She also supervises
Her job includes many challenges that Ms. Lesage accepts with enthusiasm.