Viewed from the window, a powerful blast erupts from the river’s murky waters. From the comfort of their own home, a couple of residents in the town of Godbout were able to observe the largest of the giants, a blue whale. While large whales continue to delight locals in this sector, seals and belugas are being reported elsewhere throughout the St. Lawrence.

Great stories about great whales

A large rorqual had been roaming the waters in front of the village of Godbout for several days, but that day, the animal ventured close enough for the moment to be captured in a photo. “It came close enough to the shore of the bay that I was able to photograph it from inside the house. For two weeks, I had been able to observe it on a few occasions, but it was much farther offshore in the waves.”

Between Baie-Comeau and Godbout, blue, fin and humpback whales have been seen on several occasions in recent days. On January 25, a blue whale and two fin whales appeared to be feeding off the coast of Franquelin. In the beautiful late afternoon of January 26, a fin whale was spotted from Baie Saint-Pancrace. Large cetaceans have definitely not stopped frequenting the region, as the next day was also packed with sightings! That day, a blue whale accompanied by a humpback was reported in Franquelin.

And the day was still far from over! A regular visitor to the area shares her observations: “A blue whale had come very close to shore. Its spout was clearly audible, it was the first time I ever heard a whale breath so distinctly, it’s burned in my memory! It seemed to be in the middle of an active feeding period, swimming back and forth as if it were gathering food on the surface before gobbling it down! In the hour-plus that I watched it, only twice did it dive and both times for very short periods of less than five minutes. Its movements were impressive… I even think I saw a pectoral fin and part of its mouth in two separate sequences.” Two other individuals were also spotted near Baie-Comeau, though their species could not be determined.

© Pascal Pitre

Seals and belugas

A quick scan of the horizon between Tourelle and La Martre reveals pinnipeds, with reports of “several, even thousands of seals on a strip of ice.” Gaspé Bay is rather quiet, many of the seals that were observed in recent weeks having left the area.

On a beautiful winter day in Gallix, the calm sea and radiant sun allow one marine mammal enthusiast to tally pinnipeds. “There were at least twenty small “spots,” but the seals were really too far away to distinguish the species!” Between Tadoussac and Les Escoumins, harbour seals and harp seals have been spotted here and there while a few belugas have been plying the waters off Cap de Bon-Désir in Les Bergeronnes.

Thanks to all our collaborators!

Special thanks go out to all our observers who share their love for marine mammals with us! Your encounters with cetaceans and pinnipeds are always a pleasure to read and discover.

On the water or from shore, it is your eyes that give life to this column.

Charles Atkins
Laetitia Desbordes
Audrey Hébert
Francine Lajoie
Diane Ostiguy
Renaud Pintiaux
Pascal Pitre
Andréanne Sylvain
Marielle Vanasse
J. Varin

And all those we left out!

Additionally, we would like to acknowledge the following teams that also share their sightings:
Mingan Island Cetacean Study (MICS)
Marine Mammal Observation Network (ROMM)
Quebec Marine Mammal Emergency Response Network (QMMERN)
Group for Research and Education on Marine Mammals (GREMM)

Would you also like to share your observations?

Have you seen any marine mammals in the St. Lawrence? Whether it’s a spout offshore or just a couple of seals, drop us a line and send your photos to [email protected]!

Observation of the Week - 2/2/2024

Andréanne Forest

Andréanne Forest is the editor-in-chief of Whales Online since may 2022. After studying in environment and biology, she turned to science communication with the goal of making science both accessible and fun. Andréanne wishes to highlight the process of acquiring knowledge while transmitting the desire to learn.

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