In the past few days, spotting and locating minke whales and fin whales off the coast of Tadoussac has proven difficult. Perhaps on account of the large tides? That said, I’ll take advantage of this temporary lull in “great” whale sightings to write about harbour seals, which are being observed almost daily!

Indeed, ever since whale-watching cruises resumed in late April, between 4 and 10 harbour seals have been regularly spotted at the entrance to the Saguenay Fjord.

These seals laze about on the rocks between one quest for food and the next. With their variable pelage patterns and sizes, they are striking…

Besides the beluga, the harbour seal is the only marine mammal to inhabit the Gulf of St. Lawrence and its Estuary year round. Indeed, even in the middle of winter, I regularly have the chance to observe a few individuals from the docks in Tadoussac or Les Bergeronnes.

With regard to the individuals observed over the past few days, according to Sépaq, the Saguenay Fjord is a prime location for harbour seals. The rocky sectors along the shores of the Fjord serve as haulout sites and are used for reproduction, moulting and resting.

Here is a gallery of photos taken during the second week of May.

The harbour seal is the only marine mammal besides the beluga that frequents the St. Lawrence all year long © Renaux Pintiaux
Mature harbour seals measure approximately 1.5 m © Renaux Pintiaux
A harbour seal taking a rest between two meals © Renaux Pintiaux
According to the Marine Mammal Ecowatch Network, there are believed to be some 2,600 harbour seals in the St. Lawrence Estuary © Renaux Pintiaux
Field Notes - 18/5/2017

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.

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