Minke Whale with Calf and Two Fin Whales… by Renaud Pintiaux

  • Un petit rorqual et un veau / A minke whale and a calf © Renaud Pintiaux
    07 / 06 / 2017 Par Renaud Pintiaux - /

    June 2, 2017. Foray off Tadoussac and an exceptional morning observation! According to my information, this is the first one in our sector since… 2003! Near buoy S05 (not far from the mouth of the Saguenay), we spot two minke whales swimming side by side, very close to one another. It is immediately obvious that we are in the presence of an adult minke whale accompanied by a calf!

    For minke whales, mating takes place between January and May. Gestation lasts about 10 months and calving takes place between November and March. © Renaud Pintiaux

    Nursing lasts 4 to 5 months. Mother/calf pairs separate as soon as the latter is weaned, which is generally before reaching their summer feeding grounds. This bond between the cow and her calf is the shortest of any Mysticeti whale. © Renaud Pintiaux

    The latter is barely half the size of its “mom”! These two individuals are very elusive, quick and rather difficult to observe, but I managed to snap a few pictures of… “the family”. In one of these photos, we can see the adult on the left and on her right side, the calf’s head sticking out above the surface. The considerable difference in size between the two dorsal fins can be seen in another photo. A third shot shows a close-up of the calf.

    A close-up on the calf © Renaud Pintiaux

    Needless to say, we hope to see this pair of minke whales again in the days to come…

    In the past two weeks, none of the “great” whales could be spotted, but this morning, near the tide rip north of Île Rouge, we observe two large spouts. We draw closer and discover two fin whales!

    One of them passed quite close to our boat and I was able to get a few photos. Here they are!

    A Fin Whale © Renaud Pintiaux

    A Fin Whale © Renaud Pintiaux

    Read René Roy field notes on mother-calf encounters.


    GREMM research assistant from 2003 to 2009 and from 2012 to 2014, Renaud Pintiaux is a passionate observer and photographer. Year round, whether from shore or on the water, he takes every opportunity to observe marine mammals and birds in the Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park.