By Olivia Capeillere
Autumn has truly arrived. Offshore, chilly temps are on the menu and so are the whales!
Blue whales have not been observed in the Tadoussac area since two weeks ago. However, other marine mammal species have been abundant! This week, there were ten fin whales and a multitude of minke whales in the vicinity of the Île Verte lighthouse. Captains tell us that they’ve observed two young humpbacks in the same area. The two individuals were swimming together. One of them might have been “Picotine” according to one of our informants, and the other one showed its tail when it dove! Porpoises were seen throughout the entire Marine Park between Tadoussac and Les Escoumins. Herds of over 150 gray seals have also been frequently observed.
The GREMM research team aboard the Bleuvet was surprised to observe a white-sided dolphin. It was alone opposite the sand patch, close to shore between Tadoussac and Les Bergeronnes. The team also had the chance to see the narwhal again on two consecutive days, Saturday and Sunday. This is the same individual as the one observed this summer. It was in a group of about 180 adult belugas, 3 nautical miles off of Cap de Bon-Desir. One observer on the rocks also informed us of large movements of whales in this part of the Estuary on Friday.
With regard to birds, it was a busy week for teams at the Tadoussac Bird Observatory (OOT). Raptor and passerine (songbird) migration is in full swing in the Tadoussac dunes area. Action-packed mornings in the nets, with numerous warblers, sparrows, thrushes, even sharp-shinned hawks and one very special guest: a yellow-billed cuckoo. The raptor counter posted at the lookout was thrilled to note his first gyrfalcon of the season. This bird is rarely observed, especially in September.
Farther downriver, between Pointe-au-Père and Forestville, an amateur cetologist was able to photograph eight blue whales during his day out at sea on Saturday, September 24. Farther east, on the south shore, an observer saw on Friday a fin whale 400 metres from the docks of Baie-des-Sables. And off Baie-Comeau, three out of the four mother-calf pairs known to the Mingan Island Cetacean Study (MICS) were identified. These duos have spent part of the summer in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
In the Gaspé, Cap-des-Rosiers is where the action is! Four blue whales, five minke whales, five fin whales and about six humpbacks were identified by a team from MICS. Lastly, between the North Shore (Mingan Archipelago sector) and Anticosti Island, another MICS team headed offshore for the last time this season on Friday, September 23. An outing brimming with whales: harbour porpoises, minke whales, fifty or so white-sided dolphins in Jacques Cartier Strait, three humpbacks and eight fin whales off of Rivière-au-Tonnerre!