I had a great outing in the Estuary on September 22 together with Katy and David, two members of the Mingan Island Cetacean Study (MICS) research team, who were coming back from their field work with blue whales in Gaspésie. We had an absolutely fabulous day on a glassy sea. We observed several species of birds (red-necked phalaropes, common terns, Northern gannets, Atlantic puffins, razorbills, murres, gulls, etc.) and four beautiful blue whales, all in the heart of the Estuary between Petits-Escoumins and Saint-Fabien, as well as a multitude of porpoises and four minke whales.
All three of us experienced a thrilling moment at the sight of our beloved Symphonie, a female recognized amongst the four female blue whales observed. An Argos transmitter had been placed on Symphonie’s back last autumn by a team from Fisheries and Oceans Canada, while the animal was off the coast of Forestville, in the St. Lawrence Estuary. We were able to follow Symphonie’s movements for much of the winter. Here she was again, almost a year later; the cycle has been completed. She appeared to be a little thinner. The other three blue whales were also known individuals, including B197, a regular visitor to the Estuary that I’ve observed at the same spot on a few occasions.
Here are a few photos from that magic day:
Photos: © René Roy
René Roy is an amateur cetologist who is passionate about the sea and whales; he resides in Pointe-au-Père, in the Bas-Saint-Laurent region. For the past few years, he has undertaken photo-identification expeditions for the Mingan Island Cetacean Study (MICS), mainly in the Gaspé. He also volunteers for the Quebec Marine Mammal Emergency Response Network.