Thursday, June 30: two friends and I set out for L’Anse-au-Griffon for a “hit-and-run” birding mission. Our goal is to chase the yellow-breasted chat that has been spotted there and then head offshore in search of seabirds. After observing this rare warbler on Friday morning, we lower the boat into the water in Cap-des-Rosiers and make our way toward American Bank. Sailing past Cap Gaspé, we quickly note several large spouts. Suddenly, we are surrounded by a group of four fin whales. Barely a mile away, we approach three humpbacks swimming together, which we are easily able to photo-ID. The day’s objective being to observe seabirds, we continue our journey toward American Bank. The birds we were hoping to see are nowhere to be found, so we return to Cap Gaspé. From a distance, we can see that whales are blowing in the vicinity of Gaspé Bay. Dozens of spouts. Within minutes, we encounter ten fin whales and photo-ID eleven humpbacks. This is one of the few opportunities I’ve had to observe so many whales in such a short time span. The following humpbacks were present: Bolt, Irisept, Tracks, Leprechaun, Spines, Fleuret, Darkstar, Chalk, Paloma, Hanabi and grandmother Splish. A brief but highly productive outing!
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.