There’s been plenty of action in the St. Lawrence in these first few days of March! Several belugas were seen near Les Escoumins. A few harbour seals have also been reported in the area, but this week’s sightings are particularly dominated by harp seals. Several large blasts were also reported from the north shore. The third month of the year is definitely off to a good start! 

Whales and large spouts

Residents of Franquelin had the chance to observe several species of marine mammals in recent days. First, on March 2, the largest of whales was seen. One resident shares her observation: “A blue whale was swimming slowly westward, surfacing every six to ten minutes, each time with a sustained sequence of three to five breaths. There was something special about this whale, as I was able to see its caudal fin twice. How impressive and magical!” The following day, in addition to spotting a large blast in the distance, she has the chance to admire a blue whale that had ventured quite close to shore: “Seeing it breathe and then dive beneath the mass of ice and slush just dazzled me! Its marbled bluish-grey skin glistening in the sun was equally as awesome.” Lastly, on March 4, three spouts erupted before her eyes in unison: “Two of the animals then joined together and headed even farther offshore!” 

Another local resident had the pleasure of observing a minke whale swimming off the coast of Franquelin, not to mention two or three fin whales. And, quite close to shore, a blue whale put on an entertaining display with its breathing sequences for almost two hours.  

From the shores of Les Bergeronnes, another breath was admired on March 5 by an avid walker: “This morning was my first big spout of the year! Very far offshore, […] it was either a fin or a blue… but it was too far away to identify the species. But I’m very happy!” On Wednesday morning, the same observer also noted the presence of another large blue or fin whale blowing off Cap de Bon-Désir.  

Herds of seals on the horizon!

Harp seals were the big stars of the week in some places. Several groups ranging in size from 50 to 200 animals have been seen at Cap de Bon-Désir in recent days. A herd was also seen in the early morning of March 5, basking under the rising sun. A few harbour seals were also observed here and there. 

Belugas at Cap de Bon-Désir and Les Escoumins

Obviously, Cap de Bon-Désir was a hot spot for marine mammals of the St. Lawrence this week. In addition to the large spouts and herds of seals, a few belugas were also spotted passing through the area.  

On Wednesday morning, ten of these white whales were spotted opposite Les Bergeronnes as they worked their way up the river toward Tadoussac. The morning of March 6 was also marked by the presence of two grey belugas off the coast of Les Escoumins. That afternoon, two white belugas were observed swimming in the same place and an hour later, there were more than ten of them!  

Thanks to all our collaborators!

Special thanks go out to all our observers who share their love for marine mammals with us! Your encounters with cetaceans and pinnipeds are always a pleasure to read and discover. 

On the water or from shore, it is your eyes that give life to this column. 

Renaud Pintiaux

Pascal Pitre

Andréanne Sylvain

Marielle Vanasse

Jade-Audrey Lavergne

Élizabeth Melis 

And all those we left out! 

Additionally, we would like to acknowledge the following teams for also sharing their sightings:
Mingan Island Cetacean Study (MICS)
Marine Mammal Observation Network (ROMM)
Quebec Marine Mammal Emergency Response Network: Status Report (QMMERN)
Group for Research and Education on Marine Mammals (GREMM) 

Would you also like to share your observations? 

Have you seen any marine mammals in the St. Lawrence? Whether it’s a spout offshore or just a couple of seals, drop us a line and send your photos to [email protected]! 

Observation of the Week - 7/3/2024

Océane Denis

Océane Denis is an editorial intern for Baleines en direct in winter 2024. A lover of nature and animals, she wants to share her passions through writing. Océane is in her second year of a bachelor's degree in environmental studies at the Université de Sherbrooke.

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