This page is dedicated to the presence of two minke whales in the waters of Montreal. It is updated several times a day to provide you with real time information.
Why are they here? What is the response plan? What is a minke whale? If you have any questions, you will most likely find the answer here: Minke Whale in Montreal – Your Questions.
Today, May 27, the minke whale observed drifting by Contrecoeur was recovered by Marine Emergency and transported to the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Saint-Hyacinthe for a necropsy.
According to the observations made by Stéphane Lair’s team, the animal is a male measuring 3.8 metres. The size of the animal allows us to estimate its age at 1 or 2 years old. Its skin was covered with oomycetes (Saprolegnia sp.), an organism also observed on the humpback whale in Montreal in 2020, which suggests a prolonged stay in fresh water. The state of preservation of the carcass suggests that the death of the animal dates back to a few days, perhaps even up to a week if the carcass remained submerged. The visual examination of the carcass did not allow us to confirm the identity of the minke whale, but the overall observations lead us to believe that it was the second minke whale that had been observed at the Cosmos gangway between May 12 and 14, 2022.
The necropsy did not reveal any significant cause of death and no signs of trauma were observed. The absence of food in the stomach indicates that the animal would not have fed recently. Laboratory analysis will be conducted on the various samples collected from the animal’s carcass. A necropsy report should be available in the next few months.
There is still no news of the other minke whale that was in the Montreal area from May 8 on. If you see a whale in the St. Lawrence, upstream from Île d’Orléans, or find a marine mammal carcass, please contact the Quebec Marine Mammal Emergency Response Network at 1 877 722 5346. Your observations are important.
The carcass of the minke whale was recovered this morning on Saint-Ours Island, near Contrecoeur, and towed to Lanoraie where it was loaded into a transport truck. It has just been delivered to the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Montreal in Saint-Hyacinthe, where Dr. Stéphane Lair’s team will perform a necropsy in the next few hours.
We hope to be able to share with you Dr. Lair’s first observations later today.
Yesterday, May 26, in the late afternoon, the carcass of the minke whale was located and secured near Contrecoeur. This morning it will be towed and transported to the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the Université de Montréal in Saint-Hyacinthe, where Dr. Stéphane Lair’s team will be able to conduct a detailed examination.
The presence of whales in the fluvial portion of the St. Lawrence is a rare event. Researchers will attempt to learn more about the possible causes of these incursions into fresh water, an environment known to be hostile to whales living in a marine environment, and the causes of the death of this animal.
Before this spring’s sightings of minke whales in the Montreal area, 12 other cases were recorded by the RQUMM since 2005. In the vast majority of cases, 10 out of the 12 cases, these whales were found dead and stranded without having been seen or reported to our Network.
If you see a whale in the river, upstream from Île d’Orléans, or find a marine mammal carcass, please contact the Quebec Marine Mammal Emergency Response Network at 1 877 722 5346. Your observations are important.
On May 26 at noon, the QMMERN received a report of a whale carcass drifting in Contrecoeur. The fisherman who discovered it around 10:00 a.m. sent us photos confirming that it was a minke whale. According to the fisherman, the whale is 5-6 m long. However, it is impossible at this time to verify if it is the carcass of one of the minke whales that have recently been seen in the waters off Montreal.
As of 4:00 p.m. this afternoon, the carcass had not yet been relocated. The QMMERN team is continuing its efforts to find the carcass with the help and support of its partners.
If the carcass is found, it could be transported to the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the Université de Montréal in Saint-Hyacinthe for a detailed examination.
If you find a marine mammal carcass, please contact the Quebec Marine Mammal Emergency Response Network at 1 877 722 5346.
Despite the observation efforts of the RQUMM and its partners over the past 72 hours, no sightings of the two minke whales in Montreal have yet been reported. The last report of a minke whale dates back to last Sunday, when a ship captain spotted a whale at Cap Saint-Michel, approximately 25 km downstream from Montreal.
Is it possible to imagine that the cetaceans have reached the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park? Depending on their swimming speed and the currents, they could easily cover the 450 km distance that separates them from the waters of the Upper Estuary in less than 4 days.
Once again, we call upon the cooperation of boaters and shoreline residents. Thank you for being vigilant when traveling on the water and for reporting any marine mammal sightings between Montreal and Charlevoix to the QMMERN at 1-877-722-5346.
Another day and no news of the two minke whales of Montreal. The last sightings of the whales were made at 9 p.m. on Saturday night by volunteer members of the Quebec Marine Mammal Emergency Response Network.
Did they survive their adventure? Where are they now? These are the questions we are asking at the moment. Unfortunately, it is impossible to know.
We ask everyone to continue to exercise caution and vigilance on the river and to report any presence of whales upstream of Charlevoix by calling the QMMERN emergency line at 1-877-722-5346.
Already 48 hours since the last sightings have been reported.
The first minke whale spent six days swimming on site near the shore of Île Sainte-Hélène and the second, spent three days in the Le Moyne channel, directly on the other side of the island, before disappearing. During their stay, both individuals showed similar behaviors, swimming in place against the current.
Just before its “disappearance”, the first minke whale was caught by a Coast Guard commander in the middle of a jumping session out of the water. The captain reported having seen it on Saturday evening between 6:00 and 6:20 p.m. perform about 15 impressive jumps. This event is reminiscent of the remarkable jumps of the humpback whale present in Montreal waters two years ago.
As the minke whales have still not been spotted, the Network encourages the public to report any sightings of marine mammals between Montreal and Quebec City and to exercise caution when navigating the waters of the St. Lawrence.
Do not hesitate to contact the Network on the QMMERN emergency line at 1-877-722-5346 for any report.
Still no news of the two minke whales of Montreal.
The last observations were made on Saturday May 14 at 17:30 for the first minke whale and 21:00 for the second minke whale. The next morning, the captain of the ship Carolus Magnus had observed a minke whale at the level of Cap Saint-Michel, 25 km downstream from Sainte-Hélène Island. Since then, there has been no news.
Network volunteers were still stationed on Île Sainte-Hélène this morning. This is the second day without observations. We have asked them to suspend the search for the time being in this area. We have asked the other volunteers of the Network residing between Montreal and Charlevoix to be vigilant.
We would like to take this opportunity to salute and thank all the volunteers who have been working 14 hours a day for the past week on Île Sainte-Hélène to follow the minke whales and ensure their safety. A big thank you!
To all the population, this is an invitation: do not hesitate to look in the direction of the river… And for any sighting of minke whales upstream of Charlevoix, please contact us on the QMMERN emergency line at 1-877-722-5346.
The two minke whales that were swimming in Montreal waters have not been resighted today by the QMMERN team on St. Helen’s Island. The last sightings of the two individuals date back to last night, Saturday May 14. However, a minke whale was reportedly seen at Cap St-Michel, 25 km downstream from Montreal this morning at 8:50. Is it one of the minke whales that is heading back to sea? Maybe.
We are asking the population and mariners to report any whale sightings between Montreal and Quebec City. We call for the vigilance of boaters and remind them that boats must maintain a distance of 100 metres from whales at all times, in accordance with the Marine Mammal Regulations.
This morning, neither of the two individuals that were in Montreal waters could be spotted by QMMERN members in the field. However, at 10:45 a.m., the Canadian Coast Guard reported that the vessel Carolus Magnus had sighted a minke whale near Cap St-Michel, 25 km downstream from St-Helen’s Island.
The last sighting of the first minke whale was at 5:00 p.m. on May 14 near the Three Discs monument west of St. Helen’s Island. As for the second minke whale, it was still in the same place in the Le Moyne channel between the Cosmos bridge and the Iles bridge at 9:00 pm on May 14.
Please remain vigilant and do not approach the whales within 100 m.
If you observe them, please contact the QMMERN at 1 877 722 5346
No change for the minke whales that arrived in Montreal at the beginning of the week. Minke whale #1 is still on the west side of St. Helen’s Island in front of the Three Discs sculpture while minke whale #2 is still on site near the Cosmos footbridge on the east side of the island, in the Le Moyne channel.
QMMERN observers did not report any disturbances or repeated passages of boats in the sectors of the two whales. Patrols on the water will be maintained for the weekend and we salute the great collaboration of the population.
The images of minke whale #2, which allowed us to evaluate that the animal is thin, also reveal a slight scoliosis or deviation of the spine. These images were submitted to our colleagues at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the Université de Montréal. The condition of this animal is considered sub-optimal, but not critical. However, it is not possible at this time to know the origin of this scoliosis. The deviation may be congenital, the result of a disease or intense physiological stress, or a shock such as a collision. However, the images do not show any scars or haematomas that would make us favour the theory of a collision.
The two minke whales are still in Montreal, near St. Helen’s Island.
During the last few days, they have moved slightly but tend to come back near the Three Discs monument for the first one, which we call #1, and near the Cosmos footbridge, in the Le Moyne channel for the second one, #2.
Remember that patrols on the water will be conducted all weekend by fisheries officers from Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the SPVM nautical squad. Boaters are asked to avoid the area and especially not to try to approach the animals to observe them.
The two minke whales are still present on both sides of Ste-Hélène Island. The QMMERN team is on site and continues to monitor the movements, behaviour and health status of the two individuals.
The images collected today by the QMMERN of the second individual show that it is also a young minke whale and that it is emaciated.
We are asking the public not to try to observe these whales on the water and to favour observations from the shore instead. We ask for boaters to be vigilant and we remind them that boats must maintain a minimum distance of 100 metres from the whales at all times, in accordance with the Marine Mammal Regulations.
Both animals are still in Montreal. The first minke whale is still located between the old port of Montreal and St. Helen’s Island, near the Three Discs sculpture.
The second animal has stabilized in its position and remains in the Le Moyne Canal, between the Cosmos footbridge and the Jacques-Cartier Bridge.
Surveillance teams are taking turns on site to document the animals. Calls for vigilance have been sent to regional marinas. The surveillance and awareness plan on the water is handled by our partners: the wildlife officers of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the City of Montreal SPVM nautical squads and the Environment and Climate Change Canada teams.
We encourage people to observe from the shore and to avoid going on the water in areas where whales are present. Remember that it is imperative to maintain a minimum distance of 100 metres, as stipulated in the Marine Mammal Regulations of the Fisheries Act of Canada. It is prohibited to disturb a marine mammal, which means that a boat must not approach the animal or block its path. It is also prohibited to swim, feed or interact with a whale.
The position of the second animal seems to have changed. We are on the lookout to find it.
The second animal has finally been spotted in the Le Moyne channel, not far from the Jacques-Cartier bridge. QMMERN volunteers are on their way to secure the observation.
The first minke whale has not moved and remains under surveillance.
The QMMERN team can confirm that two minke whales were present in Montreal at the same time yesterday. The first minke whale, which arrived on Sunday, is still being observed and monitored at the same location as the day before, near St-Helen Island.
The second minke whale, however, has not been seen since its observation yesterday at noon. We call on the vigilance of our readers: if you see it, please report its location as soon as possible to 1-877-722-5346.
>> 11/05/2022, 4:20pm
A second minke whale is currently present in Montreal. It could be the same individual as the one observed in the vicinity of Trois-Rivières on Monday, May 9, and at the level of Varennes on Wednesday morning.
This second minke whale was reported at 12:30 p.m. at buoy 187, near the Maisonneuve district. A team was dispatched to try to locate it and follow its movements.
The first minke whale was observed near Île Sainte-Hélène until mid-afternoon. It still seems to be in good health and physical condition. It would measure approximately 3.4m, which corresponds to a juvenile between 0 and 2 years old.
We will publish more information as soon as possible. If you spot these animals, please do not attempt to approach them with a boat and call immediately 1 877 722-5346, the Marine Mammal Emergency number. Thank you for your cooperation.
>> 11/05/2022, 10am
The minke whale is still in the Montreal area this morning, between the old port of Montreal and St. Helen’s Island, near the sculpture “Trois-disques”. It is staying close to the St. Helen’s Island shoreline. Its behavior has not changed since yesterday.
Volunteers from the Quebec Marine Mammal Emergency Response Network (QMMERN) have been on the site since 8:00 am this morning to monitor the situation. They are collecting data on the animal’s behaviour. A member of the QMMERN mobile team is also on site to document the situation in depth. A renewed call for vigilance was transmitted to the Coast Guard by the QMMERN with the new location of the minke whale.
>> 10/05/2022, 5pm
The minke whale is still present off Montreal. After the last observation around 9 pm last night, it had not been observed all morning, bringing the hope that it had turned back. It was however again spotted late this morning, this time on the other side of St. Helen’s Island, in front of the sculpture “Trois disques”.
The QMMERN team is on site to monitor and document the animal’s presence, behavior and condition. We have not yet confirmed the size and probable age of the individual, but it appears to be a juvenile.
The animal appears healthy: the minke whale is swimming peacefully on the spot, against the current; its behaviour is normal, its breathing is regular and the state of its skin is good. The information gathered by the QMMERN team has been added to the elements collected from citizen reports, and the situation is constantly re-evaluated according to the latest information.
>> 09/05/2022, 3pm
This morning, volunteers were able to go to the site to take photos and videos of the cetacean observed. This second observation confirmed that it was a minke whale, a species of whale that usually frequents the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence. The individual was at the same location as the day before, near the Cosmos bridge, and was swimming against the current.
At first glance, the animal seems to be in good condition and appears to be moving freely. It is not in immediate danger, but the waters around the Port of Montréal present increased risks for the animal. This is why its presence has triggered a response and monitoring plan.
This Sunday, May 8, between 2:00 and 2:30 pm, a witness observed a minke whale for 30 minutes down at the Cosmos bridge. The animal was seen swimming in the Le Moyne channel, an arm of the St. Lawrence River located between Île Sainte-Hélène and Île Notre-Dame, in Montreal.
The witness reported his observation to the QMMERN on May 08 at 22:29. The presence of this species, unusual in this area, triggered the dispatch of QMMERN volunteers to the site.