Since May 1, I finally have the pleasure once again to sail the waters of the St. Lawrence Estuary… to rediscover the saline air, the waves, the wind, the seabirds of spring and the first marine mammals returning after the long winter.

Between May 1 and May 7, we note the gradual arrival of minke whales. One or two individuals are spotted the first few days, then between 5 and 7 minke whales are observed on May 7. And that’s just the beginning!

A first fin whale was observed on May 4 near Prince Shoal. Although still present along the tide rip in the days that followed, it is sometimes difficult to spot due to its long dives (often exceeding 12 minutes). With no major markings on its back or flanks, this individual has not yet been identified, but photos will be forwarded to GREMM researchers and perhaps we’ll have some news in the next few days.

And what impressive numbers of long-tailed ducks off the coast of Tadousssac! Thousands of birds have spent the winter in the area and will soon be heading back to their nesting grounds. It feels like a seabird festival, with all these long-tailed ducks, not to mention numbers of scoters (black and surf), hundreds of common eiders, double-crested cormorants, etc. We also note the gradual return of razorbills, common murres and Bonaparte’s gulls. Terns and jaegers should also be arriving very soon. Gorgeous summer days can’t be too far off!

A fin whale
A fin whale © Renaud Pintiaux
A fin whale
A fin whale © Renaud Pintiaux
A minke whale with a scar on it's dorsal fin
A minke whale with a scar on it's dorsal fin © Renaud Pintiaux
Long-tailed duck in flight
Long-tailed duck in flight © Renaud Pintiaux
A minke whale with a scar on it's dorsal fin © Renaud Pintiaux
A minke whale with a scar on it's dorsal fin © Renaud Pintiaux
Field Notes - 9/5/2017

Renaud Pintiaux

GREMM research assistant from 2003 to 2009 and from 2012 to 2014, Renaud Pintiaux is a passionate observer and photographer. Year round, whether from shore or on the water, he takes every opportunity to observe marine mammals and birds in the Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park.

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