Our collaborator from Pointe-des-Monts confirms: “no whales in sight, but there were “sea wolves” by the ton!” speaking of his observations from last weekend (April 14-15). His “sea wolves” are how French-speakers sometimes refer to harp seals, and “by the ton”, he means the hundreds of individuals that were passing by this long spit of land – incidentally the place marking the boundary between the Estuary and the Gulf – and literally sending ripples across the water on their way. These excellent swimmers can reach speeds of 20 km/h!
In Sept-Îles, whales are still absent for those sets of eyes scanning the horizon, but “the presence of seabirds is increasing every day,” points out Jacques Gélineau, an employee of INREST. Amongst other observations, he reports long-tailed ducks, mergansers, scoters, common eiders and gulls.
In the shadow of the mountains of Charlevoix, one resident of L’Isle-aux-Coudres spotted a few belugas on April 15. This island is the reference for the westernmost extent of the belugas’ summer range and locals have a long history with these whales. In fact, from the 1700s to the early 1900s, fishing for “white porpoises” – which is how islanders once called belugas – was practised there. Furthermore, in 1962, residents resurrected this fishery to preserve the memory of this tradition in the documentary Of Whales, the Moon and Men (alternately screened in English under the title For the Ones to Come) by Pierre Perrault and Michel Brault.
This coming Earth Day, if you happen to be taking part in a clean-up activity on the shores of the St. Lawrence, be sure to look out to sea and share with us your observations!