Through his spotting scope, a birder posted at the Tadoussac dunes suspects he saw an unusual visitor on Sunday. The whale’s jagged black back suggests it might be a sperm whale. This solitary individual subsequently dived back into the waves and has not been seen again since. Could this be one of the five sperm whales observed last month off the coast of Les Escoumins? Or might it be a newcomer? In any case, in the absence of a documentation photo or other evidence, it is difficult to definitively confirm the species in question, leaving this sighting somewhat shrouded in mystery.

Sea canaries in sight

On Wednesday morning, three white backs momentarily broke the surface between Baie-Sainte-Catherine and Tadoussac. “It’s been a while since we last saw any belugas,” remarks one of the staff members at the Marine Mammal Interpretation Centre. She goes on to point out that rough seas have limited observations from shore. From the beach, a birder also had the opportunity to spot a group of “sea canaries” off the coast of Essipit, with a minke whale mixed in for good measure. And he wasn’t the only one. A tourist in the region reported the presence of a mother-calf beluga duo in the same area. “I saw the baby lift its tail when it dove! It was so beautiful to watch!” she exclaims. Additionally, a few groups of belugas were seen off L’Anse-au-Sac this week, including a pod of 8 or 9 individuals.

Humpbacks galore!

The prize for the best show of the week goes to three humpback whales that were repeatedly taking to the air in close proximity to a cruise ship off the dunes of Tadoussac. “Those three crazy whales were breaching non-stop! chuckles one observer who witnessed the scene from shore. Humpback were observed in twos in Les Îlets-Jérémie, Pointe-des-Monts and Franquelin. In addition to numerous minke whales, the visit of these large rorquals to Franquelin made the day for one regular observer in the region: “There were splashes and impressive spouts!” In Havre-Aubert (Magdalen Islands), a minke whale made a brief appearance.

The distribution of humpbacks reported over the past week seems to suggest that some individuals may have initiated their marathon seasonal southbound migration, which generally begins in late October or early November.

A nation of seals and dolphins

Farther east, in Quebec’s Côte-Nord region, seals are stealing the spotlight this week. In Port-Cartier, harbour seals basked on the shores of Rivière aux Rochers, while on Île du Wreck they were present by the thousands on shore and in the water, accompanied by a lone minke whale. Lastly, in Sept-Îles, a seal poked its head above the water for a few minutes while Atlantic white-sided dolphins were seen frolicking in the waves.

Don’t hesitate to share your most interesting marine mammal observations by writing to us at [email protected].

Observation of the Week - 21/10/2021

Elisabeth Guillet Beaulieu

Elisabeth Guillet-Beaulieu joined GREMM’s scientific editorial team in the early fall of 2021. Her boundless love for marine biology and aquatic environments from a young age ultimately led her to pursue a career in science. With a bachelor’s degree in biology, this nature and conservation enthusiast joined the Whales Online team in the hope of sharing her contagious passion for marine mammals while completing her master’s in the environment and sustainable development.

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