Starting with the Cloridorme region in the Gaspé where “almost 40 blue whales are present,” according to Richard Sears, director and founder of the Mingan Island Cetacean Study (MICS). He is present on site with part of his team to learn more about these giants. Their long-term work to photo-ID these blue whales over the years is paying off, as many are recognized: B081, B112, B119, B318, B344 and more! New “arrivals” have also joined the clan.
Blue whales are not the only ones to capitalize on this region and its abundance of prey. White-sided dolphins, porpoises, minke whales, humpbacks (about seven individuals) and some ten fin whales are spotted. In their wake, naturalists on board the tour boats explain the biodiversity of the St. Lawrence to their passengers. Not to mention bluefin tuna making brief appearances at the water surface and an ocean sunfish identified off Sainte-Thérèse de Gaspé.
Another contingent of the MICS team continues its work in the Mingan region, where the research station is located (in Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan). There is action there, too! Several humpbacks are identified (including Spines, Hunter, Irisept, La Souffleuse, Cédille, etc.). With regard to Spines, the protuberances on its rostrum were also seen up close by the team while the animal was investigating the boat, poking the tip of its head above water. A video of this curious behaviour is available on MICS’ Facebook page. This surface behaviour is known as “spyhopping”. Other times, a whale will swim slowly around a craft, passing under the hull again and again, and rolling onto its side to take a peak at the surface…
Another exceptional observation worth noting: a North Atlantic right whale was observed in the Mingan region. After photos were sent to the team of American researchers at the New England Aquarium, the individual was identified as Phantom, a 7-year-old female.