With her tuque snug over her ears, one observer marvels at three gannets as they dive in unison off the rocks of the Cap de Bon-Désir observation site in Les Bergeronnes on August 26. That same day, she would see three minke whales rise to the surface at the same time, a fin whale, three belugas and a gray seal. Observations of gannets have been more numerous than normal over the past few summers in the St. Lawrence Estuary. Even if their presence delights observers, it is not necessarily a good thing. Northern gannets congregate in colonies in the Gulf during the summer breeding season, which historically has meant that observations in the Estuary were rather limited to non-breeding birds. However, now adults are being seen. These gannets are likely seeking their prey much farther away than usual to bring back to their nests in the Gulf.

Gannets are also being observed in Sept-Îles, off Île Corossol, as are two fin whales and a humpback with a newborn. But where we see the most gannets is obviously around the colony on Bonaventure Island. “It was snowing around Percé Rock,” exclaimed one naturalist, referring to the coordinated dives of these seabirds with predominantly white wings. “I’ve never seen such a concentration of diving gannets. There are thousands! They were after mackerel,” she says about her observation on August 24.

During her whale-watching cruises in Gaspé Bay, she observes up to five blue whales, one of which showed its tail when it dove. On August 26, the cruise is exceptional: a minke whale swims by just off Percé Rock, and two fin whales produce impressive spouts. While the passengers are waiting for the fin whales to resurface, instead it’s a giant blue that appears!

While doing his preliminary scouting on the morning of August 29, a captain out of Gaspé Bay stops in Forillon Park and has the pleasure of observing about 4 nautical miles offshore a humpback breaching and splashing with great fanfare. As he returns to the Gaspé marina, he spots the tail of a blue whale. The day’s off to a great start!

At the Mingan Island Cetacean Study (MICS), observations have decreased in number, but not in quality! “In 21 years of research at MICS, I had never seen that!” exclaims research coordinator Christian Ramp. He and his team were able to observe humpback whales employ the bubble net technique. Produced through the blowhole or the mouth (this is still a subject of debate), a conical bubble curtain gathers and traps prey. Mouths agape, the whales then nudge the food toward the surface and engulf their feast by rolling over themselves.

In the waters off the coast of Les Bergeronnes and Les Escoumins, a GREMM research assistant returns perplexed following her photo-ID outing on August 29. “Just with the photos, it seemed that there were about fifteen fin whales. Now that I’ve been on the water, I wonder if there aren’t up to twenty! She also identifies seven humpback whales, including Gaspar, Tic Tac Toe and H855.

Click on the whale or the seal icon to find out more about the corresponding observation (specie, number of individuals, info, pictures). To enlarge the map, click on the top right corner icon. 

To see the list of the observations, click on the top left corner. 

This map represents an order of magnitude rather than a comprehensive survey.

Legend for the whales

Light grey: Beluga
Dark grey: Fin Whale
Black: Minke Whale
Light blue: Humpback Whale
Dark blue: Blue Whale
Violet: Right Whale

Red: Narwhal

Yellow: Killer Whale

Legend for the dolphins

Brown: Harbour Porpoise
Light grey: White-sided Dolphins

Legend for the seals

Grey: Grey Seal
Brown: Harp Seal
Kaki: Harbour Seal

Legend for the sharks

Light grey: Basking Shark

Legend for the turtles

Dark blue: Leatherback Sea Turtle


Marie-Ève ​​Muller is responsible for GREMM’s communications. As Editor-in-Chief for Whales Online, she devours research and has an insatiable thirst for the stories of scientists and observers. Drawing from her background in literature and journalism, Marie-Ève ​​strives to put the fragile reality of cetaceans into words and images.
Observation of the Week - 29/8/2018

Marie-Ève Muller

Marie-Ève Muller is responsible for GREMM's communications and spokeperson for the Quebec Marine Mammal Emergencies Response Network (QMMERN). As Editor-in-Chief for Whales Online, she devours research and has an insatiable thirst for the stories of scientists and observers. Drawing from her background in literature and journalism, Marie-Ève strives to put the fragile reality of cetaceans into words and images.

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