Aramis

From the bulletin Portrait de baleines, July 23, 2016

At last, a familiar humpback has arrived in the Marine Park! We recognize this individual thanks to her undertail colour pattern, which has earned her her name taken from the Three Musketeers. On her right lobe, there are two lines that intersect like two swords. Aramis has been observed in the Estuary since 2007, the year she was born. She is thus 9 years old. Sometimes she is observed alone, sometimes accompanied by her mother, Tic Tac Toe. In 2007, this duo represented the first observation of a humpback mother-calf pair swimming together in the history of the Marine Park. Perhaps one day we will have the chance to see Aramis accompanied by a young of her own…

Aramis was admired from multiple angles during her time in the Marine Park. Some observers saw her floating on the surface, exposing the tip of her large dorsal fin. This resting behaviour is known as “logging”. Others also observed her accompanied by a young humpback, the calf of Fleuret, swimming by her side in near synchronized fashion. Associations between rorquals are poorly documented. In toothed whales, they have been studied in sperm whales, belugas and killer whales, where individuals of the same species form long-term partnerships that last for years. In contrast, in baleen whales such as rorquals, associations seem to be more temporary and short-lived. Why group together? To reduce the risk of predation? To increase one’s chances of finding food? A hunting strategy? Group formation and the number of individuals composing the group vary not only based on the species, but also on the environment being used. In the St. Lawrence, rarely are large groups of humpbacks observed feeding, as is sometimes observed in other feeding grounds.

 

From the bulletin Portrait de baleines, August 20, 2015

The name of Aramis was inspired by the colour pattern under her tail. The two lines on her right lobe resemble two swords that cross like those of musketeers. Aramis was first seen in the Estuary in 2007, the year she was born. She was accompanied by her mother Tic Tac Toe, an individual often observed in the Gaspé, the Mingan Islands and in the Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park. Aramis was Tic Tac Toe’s first calf. The two of them are sometimes still observed swimming together. Since then, Aramis has been seen every year in the Marine Park. This season she was seen several times in the company of Gaspar, another humpback. As humpbacks reach sexual maturity at about 5 years, 8-year-old Aramis would therefore be old enough to reproduce. One day we might be lucky enough to see her in the area with a calf of her own.

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Humpback whales leave the cold, rich waters waters in the autumn and migrate to the warmer Caribbean for breeding and calving. These warm waters offer more favourable conditions for those activities. For some individuals, migration is not critical. For example, in any given year, some juvenile males are not competitive enough to reproduce and some females do not give birth or mate. It is therefore more advantageous for these individuals to stay where food is more plentiful, rather than travelling thousands of kilometres to warm but nutrient-poor waters. As testified by some observers, it is not unheard of to observe humpbacks or other whales during the cold winter months.

Learn more:
Humpback whale data sheet