“We could hear their bellowing from our porch,” says a Franquelin-based collaborator of News from Afield, referring to the cries of three harp seals thirty metres from the coast. Seals use a variety of sounds to communicate: barks, growls, squeals, chirps, etc. They are particularly noisy in the water and during the breeding season. Seals living in the Arctic, such as the harp seal in summer, are believed to be even quieter when they’re out of the water, notably to reduce the risk of attracting polar bears.

In the Estuary in summer, gray seals are the ones we hear most often, especially near sites where they congregate such as Île Rouge and Île Blanche. They emit loud calls that resemble wolf howls, which also earned them the nickname “sea wolves” by many residents.

And what’s going on with the whales? Even if most of them leave the St. Lawrence in the colder months, rorquals and belugas are observed annually in winter. In the past few weeks, however, we haven’t had any reports regarding these giants of the deep. Could it be that they are so “discrete” that their spouts are going undetected by the handful of observers that are still scanning the sea? Maybe… Or perhaps they are simply elsewhere…

Observation of the Week - 10/2/2016

Marie-Sophie Giroux

Marie-Sophie Giroux joined the GREMM in 2005 until 2018. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Marine Biology and a diploma in Environmental Consulting. As Lead Naturalist, she oversees and coordinates the team working at the Marine Mammal Interpretation Centre and writes for Whales Online and Whale Portraits. She loves to share “whale stories” with visitors to the CIMM and readers alike.

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