A Beluga Carcass in Bas-Saint-Laurent

Every year, the Quebec Marine Mammal Emergency Response Network handles between 15 and 20 cases of beluga carcasses. On Wednesday, May 11, the second carcass of this species of the 2016 season is reported.

© Alain Parent
© Alain Parent

A resident of Saint-André, in the municipality of Kamouraska, called 1-877-7baleine after having discovered not far from his home a carcass with unusual colouration, but physically resembling a beluga: bulging forehead, presence of teeth, rounded fins, and measuring about 3 metres in length. A locally-based volunteer, who resides practically next door to the site of the stranding, quickly went to the site to take photos and send them to the Marine Mammal Emergencies Call Centre. The case was quickly confirmed: it was indeed a beluga carcass in an advanced state of decomposition. Samples were collected from the animal on Thursday morning, before the case was handed over to the Department of Sustainable Development, Environment and the Fight against Climate Change (MDDELCC), in collaboration with the municipality. Responders can’t help but recall the complexity of the intervention, since in September 2014 a beluga of this size was also found beached in this area.

Dead redfish by the thousands

© Renaud Pintiaux
© Renaud Pintiaux

The call centre also received reports about a mass mortality of redfish observed on April 8 and May 7 in Tadoussac (Renaud field notes) and on May 9 at L’Île-Verte and Rimouski. Researchers from the Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park and Fisheries and Oceans Canada were notified and have pointed out that these observations coincide with spring tides (tides of above-average magnitude; Translator’s note: these tides are not named for the season). These mortalities are therefore due to stress caused by drastic changes in the physical conditions of the environment, namely a massive rush of cold and/or fresh water (osmotic shock). Researchers report incidents of this nature in Saint-Fulgence in 2015 in the upper reaches of the Saguenay, and in the Baie des Ha! Ha! in 1993-94. All these places are located in areas of upwelling (deep waters near the seabed are pushed upward toward the surface). Researchers are not overly concerned about the situation, as recruitment in these fish has been remarkably high in the past three years, reaching rates that have not been observed in 30 years.

To learn more:

On the Fisheries and Oceans Canada website:

Return of the Redfish?

Marine Mammal Emergencies - 12/5/2016

Josiane Cabana

Josiane Cabana served as Director for the Quebec Marine Mammal Emergency Response Network call centre from 2011 to 2018. When she’s not responding to cases of dead or vulnerable marine mammals, she likes to take the time to educate local residents on the threats faced by these animals. Biologist by training, she has been involved with the GREMM for more than 15 years, and always with the same undying passion!

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