Large rorquals continuing to wow observers, a few belugas, harp seals resting on the ice and harbour seals… What more could one ask for after such an eventful week of marine mammal sightings?

In Franquelin, the parade of large rorquals is in full swing. “The sightings are still completely off the charts,” comments one resident, impressed by the continued presence of these whales in recent weeks. “Yesterday, there were two blue whales off the coast of Franquelin! They even did a little surface feeding.”

The blue whale is what is known as a “gulper.” It feeds mainly on small planktonic crustaceans called krill, which live in schools. As was seen in Franquelin, this species sometimes feeds on the surface with its characteristic manoeuvres, namely rolling onto its side while showing an extended throat, pectoral fin and one tail fluke. Thanks to their hyperextensible mouths, blue whales can take huge gulps! Some scientific studies have determined that an
In comparison, a human mouthful averages 0.07 litres. What a difference!

Three or four large whales are currently roaming near the north shore of the St. Lawrence. Reports have come in from Baie Saint-Pancrace to Godbout! On March 26, an individual is observed in the waves off Godbout. It spends the day swimming back and forth before getting close enough to shore for one observer to snap a few photos. Two belugas are also seen near Franquelin. An adult accompanied by a young individual, smaller and still grey.

On Sunday, March 24, two observers spot a solitary beluga swimming off the docks in Les Escoumins. A little farther east on the North Shore, a local resident has the opportunity to admire a striking pinniped: “A beautiful harp seal basking in the sun on the ice at the Sept-Îles marina!”

In the Gaspé

In Gaspé Bay, a few seals are reported resting offshore on the ice. A kayaker was able to see a few large spouts while out paddling. The weather was calm, with no wind and good visibility. The perfect opportunity to admire whales! In the distance, in the direction of Pointe Saint-Pierre, plumes of mist erupt. The fact that these spouts were visible from so far away undoubtedly suggests a fin or blue whale. A few harbour seals were also splashing about.

Sunday afternoon brought a completely different set of observation conditions for one brave cetacean enthusiast: heavy snow and gales of 70 km/h. “Despite the bad weather, I managed to spot several spouts off Cap-aux-Os. With the wind and waves, I couldn’t identify the species either… but the fact that I could see the blows despite the strong gusts leads me to believe that it must have been a rather large whale!”

Thanks to all our collaborators!

Special thanks go out to all our observers who share their love for marine mammals with us! Your encounters with cetaceans and pinnipeds are always a pleasure to read and discover.

On the water or from shore, it is your eyes that give life to this column.

Pierre Chrétien
Laetitia Desbordes
Vincent Gaillard
Diane Ostiguy
Sandrine Papias
Renaud Pintiaux
Pascal Pitre
Andréanne Sylvain
Marielle Vanasse
J. Varin

And all those we left out!

Additionally, we would like to acknowledge the following teams for also sharing their sightings:
Mingan Island Cetacean Study (MICS)
Marine Mammal Observation Network (ROMM)
Quebec Marine Mammal Emergency Response Network: Status Report (QMMERN)
Group for Research and Education on Marine Mammals (GREMM)


Would you also like to share your observations?

Have you seen any marine mammals in the St. Lawrence? Whether it’s a spout offshore or just a couple of seals, drop us a line and send your photos to [email protected]!

Observation of the Week - 28/3/2024

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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