It is always surprising to encounter whales that are believed to have left for the Atlantic as soon as autumn sets in. On December 2, three fin whales brighten an otherwise dreary day near Prince Shoal Lighthouse. That same day, the GREMM team watched the immaculate backs of a group of belugas in front of the Marine Mammal Interpretation Centre in Tadoussac. The next day, at Pointe de l’Islet, one observer noted the presence of thirty or so belugas and a minke whale.

The same day, our witness from Pointe de l’Islet in Tadoussac also discovers a harbour seal lying on the rocks. Resting on dry land is part of seals’ life cycle, who divide their time between land and water. At sea, several herds of harp seals are seen off Franquelin, Les Bergeronnes and Les Escoumins. Harp seals travel every winter to the Gulf and sometimes to the Estuary to feed and calve and return in spring to the ice-laden waters of the Subarctic and Arctic. Occasionally, small groups stay behind and spend the summer in this region.

On the night of December 6, our collaborator in Franquelin wakes up to the sound of a series of powerful spouts. The mysterious passer-by is close to shore, but it’s impossible to see anything in this darkness! The “listener” believes that it is a large rorqual, as the breaths seem much stronger to her than those of a minke whale. Two days earlier, in the daylight, a minke whale was just 60 m from the edge of her yard! On December 3, it was a humpback whale that she got to admire from head to tail, less than 200 m from the coast. Two minke whales and one humpback were also reported from Les Escoumins on December 4, and three minke whales and a few belugas from Les Bergeronnes on December 6.

Observation of the Week - 9/12/2016

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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