B103, a.k.a. “Chameau”

Taken from Whales Portrait, August 25, 2017

A text by Audrey Tawel-Thibert

The famous Chameau (B103) is back! Recognizable at first glance, this female suffers from a lordosis-like deformity characterized by a pronounced inward-curving spine. She owes her peculiar nickname to the curious profile of the depression in her back, in front of her dorsal fin; seeming to stand there are two humps that recall the fat reserves of a camel.

Within the Marine Park, a minimum distance of 400 metres must be maintained between boats and blue whales. This precise figure – far from having been established at random – was determined by scientific monitoring that demonstrated the disturbance caused by boats to blue whales.

A study published this year in the journal Endangered Species Research by Véronique Lesage et al. (Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Rimouski Institute of Ocean Sciences) indicates that when a vessel is near a blue whale, the animal spends less time at the surface, abbreviates its breathing sequence and makes shorter deep dives, especially at distances of less than 400 m, although the impact of this proximity can be observed up to 1,000 m away. Thus, if the blue whale has not taken the time to refresh its oxygen reserves at the surface because of watercraft that are too close, its dives will consequently be briefer and it will feed less. “The blue whale is particularly sensitive to the presence of boats around it,” says Véronique Lesage, lead author of the study. Hence the relevance of implementing the regulations in place today, and the importance of complying with them out of respect for this endangered giant.