What could be more impressive than a blue whale, the largest animal alive? Perhaps to see this immense whale make an incursion into the Fjord for a few hours! Meanwhile, humpback whales are a constant presence in the estuary, some even performing breaches which can be a little frightening. The star Tic Tac Toe was in Gaspésie, and right whales bring an aura of mystery to the Gulf.

A Blue Whale in the Estuary of the Saguenay River

On Friday, August 18, the blue whale Jaw-Breaker was still present in the Estuary. First spotted at Les Bergeronnes, this whale then headed for the Tadoussac dunes. The following day, another individual, the blue whale Slash, surprised the entire whale-watching community by first venturing past Baie-Sainte-Catherine before entering the Saguenay Fjord. His stay lasted just a few hours, but it was enough to keep the lucky ones who saw him talking for years to come! This adventure is reminiscent of last year’s, when humpback whales – and even a North Atlantic right whale! – swam in the Saguenay. Long-time enthusiasts are wondering: could this be the first time a blue whale has entered the Saguenay? It’s the perfect opportunity to dust off old binders and sighting accounts, the answer to which will only be revealed in the coming weeks… To be continued!

Food is undoubtedly what attracted this giant of the seas to follow this path. It’s worth remembering that blue whales are voracious eaters. Weighing up to 135 tonnes, the largest animal on the planet feeds exclusively on krill, consuming more than 16 tonnes a day. Perhaps it also shared its feast with humpback whale H919, which entered the fjord a few minutes later? This whale’s distinctive black tail makes it hard to tell which direction it’s heading when it dives!

Tic Tac Toe in Gaspésie!

The star of the estuary Tic Tac Toe makes a remarkable visit to Gaspé Bay! Has this estuary regular adopted a new feeding ground? Not necessarily, as humpback whales can be very mobile in the same season, and can be seen in different parts of the Estuary and Gulf. Tic Tac Toe is easily recognized by the large “X” visible on the right lobe of its tail. It has been sighted on several occasions, sometimes accompanied by an unidentified smaller whale.

Several other humpback whales were present in the area. Between one and seven were counted, depending on the day of the week. One walker was even able to take advantage of the marine fauna present offshore. “We were accompanied all along the Les Graves trail (from Anse-aux-Sauvages to the end of the world) by two humpback whales. Backs, tails and powerful blows. At one point, dozens of us were watching and marvelling. Moments of grace, pure happiness! Not to mention the grey seals in concert!

The mild weather brought magnificent days, with sightings of two fin whales, harbour porpoises, white-sided dolphins and feeding minke whales. Towards Percé, humpback whales were also on the move, not to mention small groups of white-sided dolphins.

Whales skimming the skies

What drives whales to propel their entire bodies into the air? Breaches are mysterious behaviors that are difficult to explain scientifically. In fact, an article was published this week on Whales Online on the subject, Fin Whale Breach: Rare and Enigmatic.

In any case, these leaps are impressive to observe! In Tadoussac Bay, a minke whale had a field day, jumping more than twenty times. The humpback whale Queen also had some breach sessions, allowing passengers on a boat to observe her a little too closely… Some of them even got quite a fright when this giant mammal jumped right next to the boat.

Even when the whales remain in the water, their sightings remain spectacular. “Blow of what I dare to believe was a blue whale at Pointe-à-John, reports a cetacean enthusiast. It sounded like a big geyser!” “In recent days, it’s not unusual to see the humpback whale Guadeloupe feeding in the middle of a huge herd of grey seals,” writes wildlife photographer and naturalist Renaud Pintiaux. In the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park, two blue whales, two fin whales, a multitude of minke whales and five humpback whales were counted in the last week.

Mysterious Right Whales

A clear “V”-shaped blow and the absence of a dorsal fin were all clues that led a resident of Pointe-des-Monts to believe that the whale before his eyes was indeed a North Atlantic right whale. Despite the waves, it was possible to see the whale swimming 4-5 km from shore. A look at the interactive map of North Atlantic right whale sightings, set up by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, revealed that an individual had been identified in the area a day earlier. So it seems that this identification may have been the right one! Further east, the Mingan Island Cetacean Station (MICS) team reports more than seven right whales in the area. These large mammals will never cease to amaze us!

Observation of the Week - 24/8/2023

Andréanne Forest

Andréanne Forest is the editor-in-chief of Whales Online since may 2022. After studying in environment and biology, she turned to science communication with the goal of making science both accessible and fun. Andréanne wishes to highlight the process of acquiring knowledge while transmitting the desire to learn.

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