My expectations are low as I leave the Tadoussac wharf on the morning of September 9, a heavy blanket of fog having reduced visibility considerably. Just as with the cold, fog certainly affects observers out at sea, though it has no effect on whales, which must surface to breathe regardless. So it is with several layers of warm clothes, my hat and gloves that I get ready to confront the sea. However, a wind quickly picks up, to the delight of the observers, just strong enough to break up the fog, but too weak to create big waves. With better visibility, in the waters off of the villages of Tadoussac and Baie-Sainte-Catherine, near the Prince Shoal Lighthouse, minke whales can be seen feeding in the midst of numerous gray seals and seabirds, who are constantly diving, also taking advantage of the feast offered by the current at this specific location. The recent change in weather creates a spectacular but ephemeral landscape, which adds to the beauty of the observations. The clouds are juxtaposed to the mountains, the last traces of fog hover over the water surface near the lighthouse and the sky takes on shades of blue, purple and orange. In short, it is still an exceptional morning at sea, which just goes to show that the St. Lawrence holds many surprises.
This is my last week. Spending a summer in this unique environment with its beautiful landscapes and exceptional wildlife has been quite an experience for me! Day by day, thanks to my photo-ID work, I learned to recognize large rorquals and better understand their behaviour. I also met people who were passionate about whales. Even if I will definitely miss my daily forays offshore, I am leaving with my head chock full of incredible images and unforgettable memories.
Marie-Pier Poulin joined the GREMM team this year. As part of the photo-census program of large rorquals in the Marine Park, she collects photos and data on board tour boats. She also shares this information with the editorial team of Whales Online.