Zipper

Fin Whale

ligne décoration
  • ID number

    Bp097

  • Sex

    Female

  • Year of birth

    Unknown

  • Known Since

    1994

Distinctive traits

One needs only to look at her right side to understand how this fin whale got her name. Zipper bears an enormous zipper-shaped scar, the result of a collision with the propeller of a ship. This fin whale also has a very pronounced scar on each side of her peduncle. On the other hand, her dorsal fin has no notches and her chevron shows little contrast.

© GREMM
© Thierry Emeriau
© Renaud Pintiaux
© Renaud Pintiaux
© Renaud Pintiaux
© Renaud Pintiaux

Life history

Observers recall their first encounter with Zipper in 1994, when she was covered with fresh wounds and still ragged-looking skin. This type of injury is characteristic of a collision with a boat propeller.

Zipper survived her lacerations and continues to visit the Estuary. Her large scar reminds us that collisions between boats and marine mammals can be fatal. The vigilance of commercial and recreational boat operators, as well as compliance with the regulations of the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park (speed limits and minimum observation distances) make it possible to mitigate this risk, which becomes more acute in foggy weather or in heavily visited feeding areas.

Prior to 1994, Zipper was likely a seasonal resident of the Estuary; however, since she did not have any distinctive traits at the time, she had yet to be identified.

Zipper is just as well known in the Gulf as she is in the Estuary, which she visits regularly. She has been photographed 15 times since 1994, including GREMM’s first snapshot of her in 2007. Zipper has also been seen with two calves.

Observations history in the Estuary

1994
1995
1996
1997
1998
1999
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
2019
2020

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

Latest news from the publications Portrait de baleines

Pour une troisième fois, Zipper est documentée avec un baleineau à ses côtés. La différence de taille est marquante! À sa naissance, le baleineau mesure entre 6 et 6,5 mètres et pèse environ 1800 kg (4 000 lb). La mère mesure plutôt entre 18,5 m et 20 m. Zipper a dû mettre bas durant l’hiver et le sevrage devrait bientôt se terminer, puisque l’allaitement dure environ 6 à 7 mois. À la fin de cette période, son petit mesurera de 11 à 12 mètres, soit près du double de sa taille à la naissance!

Zipper is a fin whale easily recognizable by her obvious, zipper-like scar on her right side. Her peduncle also bears clearly visible markings on either side. Her dorsal fin has two small notches and her chevron shows little contrast. In 1994, the year of her first photo-identification, this fin whale arrived in the Estuary covered with fresh wounds and ragged skin. A collision with a boat left her in this state.

A biopsy taken in 1999 helped confirm her sex: Zipper is a female. In fact, she has since had two calves (2001 and 2007). Although she was first identified in 1994, her previous visits may have gone unnoticed because of the absence of any conspicuous traits. Zipper is also well known in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, where she has been photographed numerous times since 1994.

The scars and markings of individuals visiting the Estuary evolve over time. The broad, deep scar on Zipper’s right flank has changed since her accident. The skin of cetaceans is smooth, taught and hairless, and is in contact with a marine environment where the water is salty and sometimes very cold. Despite this, it seems that scarring and healing times of cetacean wounds are comparable to those of land mammals. The process is very effective, however. Dolphin studies in both temperate and cold waters have observed the formation of a protective buffer made of degenerative cells that, when in contact with salt water, protect the wound, allowing for easier healing of the underlying tissues and closing of the wound. Unlike land mammals, there is no formation of a sort of crust or scab.

In cetaceans, salt water seems to play a role in the scarring process. Injuries inflicted by sharks or other individuals of the same species form scars that disappear after 7 to 8 months. Broader, deeper scars create deformations and pigmentation changes that seem to be permanent. A study on scarring in pilot whales has demonstrated that in less than a year, wounds caused by biopsies are closed and the healing process is complete.

Un seul coup d’œil suffit pour l’identifier : ses cicatrices sur le flanc droit ressemblant à une fermeture éclair, ainsi que celles sur le pédoncule sont toujours aussi impressionnantes à voir. Les observateurs se souviennent très bien de leur première rencontre avec Zipper en 1994 avec ses blessures fraîches encore à vif et sa peau en lambeaux. Ce type de blessure est caractéristique d’une collision avec une hélice de bateau.

Ce rorqual commun femelle est connue aussi bien dans l’estuaire que dans le golfe. Elle visite régulièrement l’estuaire et y a été photographiée onze fois depuis 1994, au cours des mois de juin, juillet, août et même en novembre selon les années.

Cet été, Zipper a été photographiée pour la première fois par l’équipe du GREMM le 27 juillet. C’est la première fois qu’elle effectue un séjour aussi long dans l’estuaire. Au début du mois de juillet, elle avait été observée par l’équipe du MICS dans le secteur de l’île d’Anticosti, au large de Port-Menier.

Les rorquals communs de l’Atlantique se nourrissent de capelans et de krill, fréquentent les eaux profondes et peuvent vivre jusqu’à cent ans. En début d’hiver, ils effectuent de courtes migrations vers le sud, mais les régions précises où ils s’accouplent et mettent bas ne sont pas bien connues. Ce deuxième plus grand mammifère marin (après le rorqual bleu) est de tendance solitaire, mais des groupes pouvant atteindre la dizaine d’individus peuvent se créer plusieurs fois par jour et seraient associés à des stratégies de chasse.

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