Taken from the newsletter Portrait de baleines, August 23, 2013
Suffering from a lordosis-type deformity, this blue whale has a distinct silhouette suggestive of a camel or sea snake. Other St. Lawrence blue whales may show deformed contours: the speckled blue-and-gray colour pattern is a dead give-away for identifying a blue whale. MICS researchers learned that she was a female through a biopsy conducted in 1994.
Chameau is one of the blue whales that frequents the Estuary regularly, though she has also been photographed in the Gaspé. In 2002, she was spotted with young off the coast of Portneuf-sur-Mer. A priceless sighting, as in 35 years of working with this species in the St. Lawrence Estuary and in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, MICS had only ever identified some 20 mothers accompanying a calf. Chameau’s case is all the more rare in that her young was seen again in 2011, this time off the Gaspé Peninsula. In the St. Lawrence, it was the first time that a young blue whale was rephotographed after the first year of its life, whereas this occurs rather frequently in the blue whale population studied in Baja California.
Chameau has been seen from time to time since July 31, and again more recently on August 27, she was likely spotted in the fog. This year to date, at least 12 different blue whales have been identified by the GREMM in the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park.
Designated “endangered”, the Northwest Atlantic blue whale is especially studied in the St. Lawrence, which is believed to offer it exceptional feeding conditions: currents, bathymetry and tides foster in certain localities significant accumulations of krill, this giant’s main prey. Within the Marine Park, boats must maintain a distance of at least 400 m from blue whales in order to better protect them.
Blue whale “Chameau”, summer 2013 © GREMM