Minke whales are now a rather common sight in the St. Lawrence, sometimes alone, sometimes a half dozen or more in a relatively small area. These coastal whales often swim close to the shoreline to feed, engulfing their prey. They also frequent archipelagos, like the three minke whales observed off Sept-Îles on June 15. A minke whale charmed music fiends at the Tadoussac Song Festival on June 11. The whale ventured as far as Anse à la Barque (a cove in the Saguenay Fjord) to the tune of a musician that it kept interrupting with its clear spout while actively swimming in circles in a shallow area near the beach.

Other visitors were also treated that day to memorable fanfare in Percé in the Gaspé Peninsula. A guide reported “a group of five fin whales milling around just beyond Île Bonaventure in waters that were so calm that the whales’ blasts could be heard from the gannet colony. Visitors were treated to a gannet-whale medley; it was quite amazing!”

On a clear day in the middle of the week, an observer posted at Cap des Rosiers Lighthouse also heard the thunderous blows of fin whales off Forillon National Park. On the same note, a dozen or so fin whales have been seen in recent days by the MICS team, which kicked off its field season in the Gaspésie and Basse-Côte-Nord regions.

The humpback Irisept in Gaspé Bay, 10 June 2016 © MICS/ Instagram @minganwhales

The humpback is a species that visitors like to see “put on a show.” This cetacean usually shows its tail when it dives and is also capable of breaching completely out of the water. It’s known for impressing its audience! Three humpbacks were observed in Gaspé Bay, including Irisept and Whip. Two humpback whales were seen in the Mingan sector, including Pythagore. Lastly, in Tadoussac, the humpback observed since mid-May is still in the area, sometimes hugging the coast below the Tadoussac dunes, sometimes close to Quai des Pilotes in Les Escoumins, as was the case on Wednesday, June 15.

Although they lack the impressive size of large rorquals and keep a rather low profile on this great stage that the St. Lawrence River is, harbour porpoises provided a thrill for a few “spectators” in the Côte-Nord and Gaspésie regions.

Observation of the Week - 15/6/2016

Josiane Cabana

Josiane Cabana served as Director for the Quebec Marine Mammal Emergency Response Network call centre from 2011 to 2018. When she’s not responding to cases of dead or vulnerable marine mammals, she likes to take the time to educate local residents on the threats faced by these animals. Biologist by training, she has been involved with the GREMM for more than 15 years, and always with the same undying passion!

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