“Fin whales in Les Escoumins,” remarks one avid yet impressed observer: “Their powerful breaths really hit you in the gut!” “A parade of large spouts” exclaims one enthusiast when describing observations made in the Franquelin sector. A entire procession of whales was observed swimming near the coast, much to the delight of the locals!

No April Fools’ jokes!

The month of April kicked off with great fanfare. When sharing his sighting on the social networks, a naturalist and wildlife photographer was quick to point out that this was no hoax: “Two whales on April 1… And no, this isn’t an April Fools’ joke!” Seeing two fin whales on this day of gags was enough to raise doubts! The day started near the tidal flats at Les Bergeronnes, where a fin whale was carrying out surface feeding manoeuvres. A little later, a second individual was seen offshore. Two days later, this observer once again had the chance to see from Cap de Bon-Désir two fin whales whose movements he then followed as far as Les Escoumins.

Franquelin and Godbout: Whale hotspots

A feeding blue whale, a breaching humpback, what could be better than all these stunning sightings in Franquelin? How about between six and eight large rorquals swimming near the coast! Strong winds and the considerable distance meant that the species could not be identified, however. From Baie-Comeau, there are also reports of a blowing fin whale. The presence of so many whales is very exciting. “It’s like a festival!” exclaims one citizen.

A resident of Godbout was treated to several days of amazing whale sightings. On April 1, three large rorquals were swimming near the coast. A few days later, he managed to see five! “Yesterday, for several hours I had the chance to observe three fin whales and two blue whales simultaneously off the coast of Godbout. The blues were a little farther out and I observed them through my binoculars and even saw one of them surface feeding, but unfortunately it was too far for my camera. The fins were closer. The three fin whales then headed up river, but one of them returned in mid-afternoon.”

Seals, belugas and birds

If we’re talking about the marine fauna of the St. Lawrence, we shouldn’t forget about pinnipeds. A few harbour seals were spotted near the tidal flats known as Batture aux Vaches in Tadoussac as well as on the other side of the river, resting on the rocks near Anse au Lard. Periodically showing their white backs, belugas ply the waters from Tadoussac’s Pointe de l’Islet to Les Escoumins. Solitary animals are reported here and there. “The first migratory birds are beginning to arrive,” reports one passionate birder. “After the storm, it will be time to spend more time near the water…” With so many awesome sightings since the start of 2024, we hope this is just a precursor of what’s to come this summer!

Thanks to all our collaborators!

Special thanks go out to all our observers who share their love for marine mammals with us! Your encounters with cetaceans and pinnipeds are always a pleasure to read and discover.

On the water or from shore, it is your eyes that give life to this column.

Laetitia Desbordes
Diane Ostiguy
Éric Perreault
Renaud Pintiaux
Pascal Pitre
Andréanne Sylvain
Marielle Vanasse
J. Varin
Patrick Weldon

And all those we left out!

Additionally, we would like to acknowledge the following teams that also share their sightings:
Mingan Island Cetacean Study (MICS)
Marine Mammal Observation Network (ROMM)
Quebec Marine Mammal Emergency Response Network (QMMERN)
Group for Research and Education on Marine Mammals (GREMM)

Would you also like to share your observations?

Have you seen any marine mammals in the St. Lawrence? Whether it’s a spout offshore or just a couple of seals, drop us a line and send your photos to [email protected]!

Observation of the Week - 4/4/2024

Andréanne Forest

Andréanne Forest is the editor-in-chief of Whales Online since may 2022. After studying in environment and biology, she turned to science communication with the goal of making science both accessible and fun. Andréanne wishes to highlight the process of acquiring knowledge while transmitting the desire to learn.

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