Blizzard, a.k.a Blanche-Neige
Taken from the newsletter Portrait de baleines, July 10, 2014
She frequents the Estuary regularly, often staying for extended periods. This year, Blizzard was first observed in the Marine Park on June 11 and it was noticed that she rarely shows her tail completely when she dives. But she was often seen slapping the surface with her pectoral fins and breaching!
Blizzard was born in 2008. On her second migration to the St. Lawrence in 2009, she arrived alone in the Estuary, without her mother. Blizzard’s mother Soledad has never entered the Estuary, but frequents the Gulf, according to the Mingan Island Cetacean Study (MICS), which manages data for the catalogue of St. Lawrence humpback whales.
Blizzard is six years old and has reached sexual maturity. Will we see Blizzard with a calf in coming years?
Blizzard belies the tradition according to which young humpbacks come to feed where their mother led them their first summer. Perhaps she is trying to avoid competition for food. Young humpback whales have been increasingly frequenting the St. Lawrence since the late 1990s. Their visits to the Estuary are greater both in number and in duration. When a population increases, individuals can be observed to explore new feeding areas.
The humpback whales of the St. Lawrence belong to the Northwest Atlantic population, which is estimated at between 11,800 and 14,300 individuals. Since 2003, it has been designated “Not at Risk” according to the status given by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC).
Worldwide, humpback whales, one of the species decimated by intensive commercial whaling, have been trending toward recovery since the 1980s.