Although the start of the season has been a quiet one, whales seem to have finally arrived in the St. Lawrence. A few well-known humpbacks have been reported, not to mention numerous minke whales, grey seals and harbour porpoises, much to the delight of their observers.
Trio of humpbacks
The two humpback whales Guadeloupe and Aramis that were present last week remained in the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park sector, accompanied this time by a newcomer, Gaspar. This female has been observed almost annually since 2006. She is easily recognizable by the colour pattern on the underside of her tail. Her right lobe shows the shape of the famous ghost to which she owes her moniker. The three cetaceans displayed a multitude of behaviours during the course of the week: “travelling, feeding, sleeping and a few more active displays.”
From the shores of Cap de Bon-Désir in Les Bergeronnes, both residents and tourists passing through were able to admire marine mammals. Their checklists included harbour seals, grey seals, belugas, harbour porpoises and minke whales. Not far from Les Escoumins, one resident reports having observed two humpback whales, three fin whales, three minke whales, a dozen or so harbour porpoises and a few grey and harbour seals over the past few days.
Photographer and naturalist Renaud Pintiaux shares a number of noteworthy moments during his outings on the water: “Several minke whales in the Tadoussac and Les Bergeronnes area. Another highlight is the arrival of increasing numbers of grey seals today near Prince Shoal. The photos of the excrement released by Gaspar the humpback that he managed to capture are particularly impressive!
Evenings by the river’s edge
It was a quiet evening characterized by a calm river and late day heat when a group of residents was able to track a passing minke whale from the Cap-à-l’Aigle marina in La Malbaie. Although this vantage point offers a good field of view, the animal was only seen once breathing on the surface before it disappeared. A harbour seal was also swimming in the vicinity. In the cove known as Anse de Roche in Sacré-Coeur, a small harbour seal was spotted.
A little farther down the St. Lawrence, about four humpbacks were seen off the coast of Ragueneau. In Franquelin, cetaceans and pinnipeds have also been present! One marine mammal enthusiast was lucky enough to see a large rorqual foraging: “A fin whale seemed to be feeding by diving in one direction, then in the other direction in a series of laps, back and forth. I was elated!” Beyond that, other marine fauna was also very active: “a grey seal was diving along the shore, apparently also in feeding mode. Also, a minke whale made a quick appearance 20 metres from shore, I saw it just once thereafter toward the end of the bay where I am. Then a harbour seal poked its head out 5 metres from the water’s edge, staring straight at me and sniffing my scent that it was able to pick up in the light breeze.” Another observer reports the presence of a humpback whale, two fin whales, grey seals and harbour porpoises in the area.
Fin whales and a basking shark
At Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan, staff from the Mingan Island Cetacean Study (MICS) was able to spot eight fin whales and one humpback. Harbour seals and harbour porpoises were also sighted in Havre-Saint-Pierre.
On the south shore, belugas were spotted in both Kamouraska and Matane. Out in Gaspé Bay, harbour seals have been swimming in the area, but it was a basking shark that stole the show! Measuring approximately 10 metres long, the basking shark is the second largest shark in the world. It is also a filter feeder, feeding on plankton in much the same way as certain rorquals. The basking shark is one of seven species of sharks found in the St. Lawrence. Learn more about the species on the St. Lawrence Shark Observatory website. Humpback whales and a few seals were also reported. In short, we feel that the season is finally well underway!
Where are the whales this week? Observations map
These infomations were reported by our network of observers. They give an idea of the presence of whales and in no way represent the actual distribution of whales in the St. Lawrence river. Simply use it for fun!
Click on the whale or seal icons to discover the species, the number of individuals, additional information or photos of the sighting. To enlarge the map, click on the icon in the top right-hand corner. The map works well on Chrome and Firefox, but not so well on Safari.
To display the list of sightings, click on the icon in the top left-hand corner.