As the year draws to a close, fireplaces are crackling, winds are whipping and Quebec’s landscapes are gradually being covered under a pristine blanket of snow. But despite the harsh weather, whales still have a few surprises in store before the winter solstice! This week, in Franquelin, a few fin whales and several humpbacks were feeding not far from shore, including a group of about thirty individuals. “It’s ridiculous how many there are!” exclaims one observer from the region. A few humpback whales also approached the Baie-Comeau docks on December 14, a rare event that surprised local observers.
Given the inclement weather, most observers didn’t see too much! Mariner Jacques Gélineau was also limited in his marine mammal observations, but he did enjoy a surprise encounter with harbour porpoises about 800 metres off Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan. Such a sighting is rare in the St. Lawrence this time of year, as this tiny cetacean generally begins migrating to its winter range around mid-October.
Off the coast of Les Bergeronnes, photographer Renaud Pintiaux spotted a small group of belugas from shore on December 9 and 10. Offshore, large balloon-shaped blasts betray the presence of several humpbacks several kilometres off Cap de Bon-Désir, in the heart of the Estuary. However, they stay far from shore, unlike a minke whale that grazes the rocks on more than one occasion.
When there are no whales to watch, people start paying attention to seals! In Pointe-aux-Outardes on December 8 and 9, a local resident saw his first groups of harp seals of the season. In the Bay of Sept-Îles, nearly a dozen harbour seals were seen by one observer. According to her, some of them were adopting a “banana” position in which the animals keep their extremities out of the water in order to retain body heat more effectively when they are resting. Lastly, at Cap Gaspé, a local resident also had the opportunity to admire a few harbour seals poke their heads above the water before plunging back into the waves.
Have you observed a whale or a seal? Don’t hesitate to share your most interesting marine mammal sightings or photos by writing to us at [email protected].