To observe almost a hundred belugas in Les Escoumins; nearly a dozen blue whales in the Gaspé, including B105, which has now been photographed on both sides of the North Atlantic; and white-sided dolphins off the coast of Cape Gaspé.

A Sea Chock Full of Belugas

“The water was white with belugas”, say Les Escoumins residents who observed an impressive gathering of the species, “about a hundred” they estimate, from their house this past August 8. The herd stretched for several kilometres and was split into smaller groups of ten or so individuals. It was the first time these observers were witness to such a large herd of belugas.

Belugas are gregarious. In summer, adult belugas exhibit a high degree of sexual segregation. Females and young frequent in particular the upstream portion of the population’s summer range. Adult males are concentrated in the centre and downstream sectors of the summer range. Three male networks are known: two of these navigate the Saguenay Fjord and the head of the Laurentian Channel, while the third one also uses the head of the Channel as well as the downriver portion of the Estuary, from Les Escoumins to Forestville.

Gathering of Blue Whales, Including One Individual Observed on Both Sides of the Atlantic

Mingan Island Cetacean Study (MICS) collaborator René Roy (contributor to the Field Notes section of Whales Online) was surrounded by blue whales in his boat”, mentions a whale-watching employee from the Gaspé region who, after being notified of the presence of these giants off the coast of L’Anse-à-Valleau, went to the location to study the gathering from shore. Within the group, the blue whale B105 is identified. This whale has been photographed on both sides of the North Atlantic, namely in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and, 30 years later in 2014, in the Azores, west of Portugal. Read more about this extraordinary match on the MICS website. And now this summer, B105 is back on our side of the ocean!

On the other side of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, at Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan, before fog forced them to return to shore, the MICS team spotted dozens of minke whales, nearly 30 fin whales and about ten humpbacks. Several of the humpbacks are known.

Right Whales and White-sided Dolphins in the Gaspé

 The Gaspé-based whale-watching cruise employee, having gone to the cliffs overlooking L’Anse-à-Valleau to scan for blue whales, emphasized that his team was unable to reach this location to observe the titans, as it was too far to Gaspé Bay from the docks. Nevertheless, the team also made a number of highly interesting observations, beginning with two right whales off the cliffs of Forillon National Park on August 14. The same day, they also discover the first herd of white-sided dolphins of the season, approximately 8 nautical miles off the coast of Cape Gaspé. White-sided dolphins are observed near the coast in summer and fall. Their population in the Gulf is estimated at 12,000.

Observation of the Week - 17/8/2015

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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