Emotions are running high as a new season gets under way. Cruises in the Gaspé Bay region began operating on Wednesday. One person keeps watch from land to identify spouts and allow cruise operators to travel more easily to the observation sites to admire these marine mammals. “Right now, from the coast, I can see a fin whale blowing!” exclaims the seasoned captain. Then, a few minutes later, he calls back to announce that he just spotted two humpbacks: an adult and a young. Later in the afternoon of Wednesday, June 1, the naturalist on board confirmed that there were actually three animals: two adults and a young calf. The latter had put on quite a display for morning visitors, calmly raising its pectoral fins, rolling over, poking the tip of its head out of the water… a highly appreciated “show” for this first cruise of the season!

In the Île Bonaventure area, a naturalist reported his first observations of the season on May 28: two fin whales swimming quickly side by side, “whales with a prominent triangular dorsal fin and a powerful spout” described this experienced observer.

© Jonathan Blais, CERSI
© Jonathan Blais, CERSI

In the North Shore region, the Centre d’Éducation et de Recherche de Sept-îles (CERSI) made the wonderful discovery of two blue whales during its first trip of the season off the coast of Gallix. This was the first time in 25 years that the team observed this species in June; typically blue whales are seen later in the summer, from August to October. These visibly emaciated whales fed in the rich waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence for nearly four hours before retiring to less demanding activities.

On May 31 in Tadoussac, a passionate observer reported live from his cruise on the Estuary the presence of six fin whales and about ten or so minke whales. Fin whales had gathered during high tide; a group of four was performing feeding manoeuvres, swimming in circles at the surface. “Just like the good ol’ days!” he exclaimed with regard to the presence of this group of mastodons. Among them, one fin whale strongly resembled Orion; photo analysis should be able to confirm this shortly.

Then, on May 27, after the release of the News from Afield bulletin, a naturalist reported live from his craft “a minke whale that breached a dozen times!”. It was opposite the Tadoussac dunes.

Observation of the Week - 2/6/2016

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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