Just before students head back to school and knitting season returns, the long Labour Day weekend has allowed thousands of vacationers to flock to the North Shore and Gaspé regions. And the whales were also plentiful!

In Percé, a park warden posted atop the cliffs of Bonaventure Island on September 4 spots two spouts to the southeast. “I point my telescope and bingo, two fin whales are swimming practically side by side.” A few minutes later and a little farther south, he spots two more large spouts: another duo of fin whales! At the end of the day, as he prepares to head down to the boat launch for the last departure back to the mainland, a large blow to the northeast catches his attention. “I return to my telescope and point it in the direction of the spout, I see a huge breath, a light gray mottled back, a tiny dorsal fin… no doubt about it, it’s a blue!”

One whale-watching captain has been encountering blue whales every day for weeks. “I’ve been seeing between one and four individuals in Gaspé Bay and at the mouth of the bay, one of which shows its tail when it dives. It’s been there for at least three weeks.”

Those who chose to observe whales from the rocks of Les Bergeronnes and Les Escoumins or on the water have been lucky enough to observe blue whales, fin whales, minke whales, humpbacks… Tall column- or balloon-shaped spouts have shooting up in every direction. “I don’t know which way to turn!” exclaims one observer posted on the docks in Les Bergeronnes who can see the animals well, even without binoculars.

Our collaborator René Roy has observed a seventh blue whale calf this season, this time in Baie de Mille-Vaches opposite Longue-Rive! Further details can be found in his Field Notes (in French only).

At Pointe-des-Monts on September 1, the sky shows a purplish hue and the river is calm.  About 1 km from shore, three balloon-shaped spouts rise into the air: two adult humpbacks and one juvenile are swimming together. Our observer also notes the presence of two fin whales, minke whales, porpoises, gray seals and even the daily presence of a harbour seal. “It’s been a long time since we’ve seen seals like that!”

On September 1, about 20 km east of Baie-Comeau, our observer writes that she has been regularly observing minke whales, a few seals and a solitary humpback. Surprise! The following day, she observes two humpbacks.

In Sept-Îles Bay, Anik Boileau, researcher at the Sept-Îles Research and Education Centre (CERSI), observes three fin whales and two juvenile humpbacks, one of which has numerous traces of killer whale attacks on its tail.

On August 31 in the Mingan region, the Mingan Island Cetacean Study team observes two humpback whales that had been identified in Maine a few weeks earlier. They also spot two fin whales.

Click on the whale or the seal icon to find out more about the corresponding observation (specie, number of individuals, info, pictures). To enlarge the map, click on the top right corner icon. 

To see the list of the observations, click on the top left corner. 

This map represents an order of magnitude rather than a comprehensive survey.

Legend for the whales

Light grey: Beluga
Dark grey: Fin Whale
Black: Minke Whale
Light blue: Humpback Whale
Dark blue: Blue Whale
Violet: Right Whale

Red: Narwhal

Yellow: Killer Whale

Legend for the dolphins

Brown: Harbour Porpoise
Light grey: White-sided Dolphins

Legend for the seals

Grey: Grey Seal
Kaki: Harbour Seal

Observation of the Week - 7/9/2018

Marie-Ève Muller

Marie-Ève Muller is responsible for GREMM's communications and spokeperson for the Quebec Marine Mammal Emergencies Response Network (QMMERN). As Editor-in-Chief for Whales Online, she devours research and has an insatiable thirst for the stories of scientists and observers. Drawing from her background in literature and journalism, Marie-Ève strives to put the fragile reality of cetaceans into words and images.

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