The field season ended on November 4.

But there are still quite noteworthy observations (marine mammals, birds, landscapes) and two Field Notes will be needed to summarize these final forays off the coast of Tadoussac. Here’s the first one, which is dedicated to minke whales, fin whales and harp seals.

Minke whales are still everywhere in these early days of November. And with them, many impressive surface feeding sequences near the tide rips. Here are a few images of various hunting techniques: heads sticking out of the water, pink throats, expanded ventral grooves, etc.

Their prey: small fish! In this photo, we see a few small fish that have just managed to escape a minke whale attack near the surface!

On November 1, we’re offshore between the Prince Shoal Lighthouse and Île Rouge when we encounter three fin whales: a duo and one individual a little farther away.

Among them, I’m able to photograph and identify Zipper (portrait in French), a female fin whale first spotted in the area in… 1994!

Harp seals are increasingly present offshore, with a few impressive herds (sometimes with more than 200 individuals) as well as smaller groups (between 15 and 30 individuals) noted. They are particularly active when they arrive at the surface, swimming on their backs, occasionally sticking part of their body out of the water.

And of course, we must not forget the fabulous autumn light, breathtaking skies, etc.

A minke whale
A minke whale © Renaud Pintiaux
Harp seals swimming on their back.
Harp seals swimming on their back. © Renaud Pintiaux
Harp seals swimming on their back.
Harp seals swimming on their back. © Renaud Pintiaux
A minke whale
© Renaud Pintiaux
A minke whale
© Renaud Pintiaux
A minke whale
© Renaud Pintiaux
When the sun spills from a hole in the clouds, it’s called a «pied-de-vent».
When the sun spills from a hole in the clouds, it’s called a «pied-de-vent». © Renaud Pintiaux
A rorqual
© Renaud Pintiaux
Zipper the fin whale
We can recognize Zipper from her scar behind her dorsal fin. When she was first encountered back in 1994, she still had open wounds and her skin was in tatters. This “vestige” is that of a collision with a boat. © Renaud Pintiaux
A fin whale
A fin whale © Renaud Pintiaux
Two fin whales
Two fin whales © Renaud Pintiaux
Fish splash out of the water to escape the minke whale.
Fish splash out of the water to escape the minke whale. © Renaud Pintiaux
Prince Shoal Lighthouse, in a late fog.
Prince Shoal Lighthouse, in a late fog. © Renaud Pintiaux
Field Notes - 7/11/2017

Renaud Pintiaux

GREMM research assistant from 2003 to 2009 and from 2012 to 2014, Renaud Pintiaux is a passionate observer and photographer. Year round, whether from shore or on the water, he takes every opportunity to observe marine mammals and birds in the Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park.

Recommended articles

Catch Me If You Can: A Week at the Saddle Island Haulout

6:30 a.m.: The alarm goes off, sounding the start of a new day in the field. I’m not in Tadoussac,…

|Field Notes 13/2/2020

Skeleton Preparations Move Forward

At the time of his most recent interview with a Whales Online intern in the fall of 2018, Michel Martin,…

|Field Notes 3/2/2020

Is ice a significant natural threat to blue whales in the Gulf?

Revisiting the photos I took this past summer, I pondered some of the specific markings I had observed on blue…

|Field Notes 2/12/2019