Or Blanc

Beluga

ligne décoration

Adopted by the municipalities of Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Beauharnois and Châteauguay

  • ID number

    DL0171

  • Sex

    Presumed male

  • Year of birth

    Before 1980

  • Known Since

    1992

Distinctive traits

Or Blanc can only be recognized based on his left flank, as the markings on his dorsal crest are not sufficiently pronounced to confirm his identity from the right side. What distinguishes him from the left is the circle-shaped scar near his dorsal crest.

Life history

The first time Or Blanc is photographed in 1992, he is already pure white. Belugas fade from gray to white in colour between the ages of 12 and 16. Or Blanc was thus born before 1980.

Aside from changes in colouration, size as well as behaviour can also provide clues as to an animal’s age. In dead individuals, growth layers visible in the teeth, the number of ovulations in females, and changes in the lenses of the eyes are also indicators.

Or Blanc is observed in adult herds predominantly made up of males. He is affiliated with one of the two networks of males that ply the waters of the Saguenay Fjord. Another network of males, known as the “Downstream Boys”, also uses the head of the Laurentian Channel sector and the downriver portion of the Estuary. Even if their territories overlap, individuals from one network seldom rub fins with males of other networks.

When they reach adulthood, males tend to form stable groups of companions. These associations, which are established gradually, may play a role in belugas’ reproductive lives. Or Blanc has no known faithful companion. He has been seen regularly however with males Frimas and Dance-Sea.

How Or Blanc’s story unfolds will teach us volumes on the evolution of belugas’ social lives. By better understanding how belugas live, we will better be able to protect them.

Observations history in the Estuary

1992
1993
1994
1995
1996
1997
1998
1999
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015

Years in which the animal was not observed Years in which the animal was observed

Latest news

Or Blanc is spotted in a herd of some fifty adults off the coast of Anse à Pierrot (Pierrot cove) in the Saguenay Fjord. Slowly and in single file, the animals work their way downstream toward the St. Lawrence Estuary. Or Blanc is swimming in the company of eight belugas, all large males, including two of his most faithful companions: DL0204 and GraCY. At the same time as we carry out a photo study, we send out a drone for a flyover. The images are striking. These aerial images are used to estimate the belugas’ size, a new piece of information that we can add to their individual datasheets.

 

We’re observing Or Blanc at the mouth of the Fjord. He’s swimming in a herd of 60 or so belugas that are slowly making their way up the Fjord. Within the herd, we notice a few entirely white individuals – including females Blanche and her daughter Marguerite as well as DL0553 and males Gracy and DL0918 – though 40% of the belugas are gray or slightly gray. We also observe three newborns, two of which are the respective calves of Blanche and Marguerite. Mother and daughter are swimming side by side, each with their own offspring. We are thus witness to three generations of belugas: a first for our team.

The Saguenay is a place where cows and bulls of different generations mingle: male networks like Or Blanc’s mix with communities of females and young, as well as with groups of juvenile males.

We’re working in the Saguenay, near Cap Blanc. We’re in the presence of a herd of some forty belugas. The glare on the water somewhat complicates our surveys. We’ve spotted no less than three calves in the herd. The female Blanche is present, as is Or Blanc. Around twenty belugas, adults and young alike, form a loosely-knit group around which smaller groups of a few individuals gravitate. In front of us are six large males that we are trying to biopsy, to no avail.

 

Off the coast of Les Bergeronnes are nearly 120 belugas, almost all of which are white adults. Judging by their size, we believe that they are all males. Swimming with four other animals, we observe Or Blanc, easily recognizable thanks to the small hole in his left flank, in front of his dorsal crest.

The hundred or so belugas making up the herd are spread over more than a kilometre. The animals are split into groups of 5 to 8 individuals and some are even swimming alone. Back in the lab, we are optimistic that we’ll recognize a few individuals in such a large herd, but we only manage to identify DL0242.

Sponsor

The municipalities of Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Beauharnois and Châteauguay adopted Or Blanc (2014) and participates in the solidary adoptions of Neige, Nics, Solidaire, Bilou and Cica with other riverside municipalities of the St. Lawrence (2014).

Click on the name below to discover texts, drawings and videos composed by children of participating schools on Facebook.

Or blanc was named by the 3th grade class of the École des Trois Sources in Châteauguay as part of the Our Beluga’s Name is… contest.


Concours Notre béluga s’appelle… Or blanc

Lors du choix d’un nom pour notre béluga, nous avons cherché des mots qui évoquent quelque chose de précieux, pour la valeur que ce mammifère marin peut avoir à nos yeux, mais aussi pour sa rareté. La comparaison au métal précieux qu’est l’or est accompagnée d’une autre comparaison, celle à l’Or bleu, surnom donné à l’eau, qui est non seulement l’habitat du béluga, mais aussi une ressource inestimable qu’il nous faut protéger.

Enfin, si l’or se décline en plusieurs teintes, c’est aussi le cas du beluga, dont la peau grise devient d’un blanc étincelant au fil des ans. La peau si blanche de notre beluga nous a permis de mieux connaitre son âge.

C’est la situation fragile des bélugas du Saint-Laurent, leur place dans la biodiversité mais aussi leur incroyable beauté qui rendent cet animal marin si précieux.

Pour illustrer leur choix de nom, les enfants ont créé une affiche sur laquelle ils ont écrit le texte suivant, accompagné de bulles d’eau contenant quelques mots autour des bélugas :

A l’image de l’eau que l’on surnomme Or bleu parce qu’elle est si précieuse, épuisable et fragile, nous avons choisi le nom de Or blanc pour notre beluga. L’or est un métal précieux. Le beluga l’est tout autant. Comme l’or qui brille au soleil, la peau blanche du beluga adulte scintille à la surface de l’eau du fleuve qu’il habite. Il faut protéger ce qui est précieux !

L’affiche créée par les enfants sera affichée dans notre école afin qu’elle soit vue par un très grand nombre de personnes.

Nous joignons à ce texte une photo de notre affiche et une de ses petits auteurs.