H277, a.k.a. “Tingley”
Taken from the newsletter Portrait de baleines, September 15, 2017
The arrival of a female humpback accompanied by a first-year calf intrigued captains and naturalists: after doing a little homework, they conclude that it is Tingley, or H277! Although a regular in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Tingley is believed to be making her first visit to the Estuary, according to Christian Ramp of the Mingan Island Cetacean Study (MICS). Faithful to the Mingan sector in particular, H277 has been confirmed in the region every year since 1991, except in 1993 and 1995.
Although no biopsy was performed to confirm whether or not the calf swimming alongside H277 is her own, certain clues cannot be overlooked: in June, Tingley had been seen in the Gaspé Peninsula with a little one, and the pair was seen again in late August, this time in Minganie. This is H277’s fifth known calf. In addition to this newcomer, Tingley has given birth to the following individuals (in chronological order): H687, a female named Piranha, born in 2003; H691, a male nicknamed Batroom, born in 2007; an animal of unknown sex without an ID number, born in 2010; and H831, a whale of unknown sex named Soluvia, born in 2015.
Tingley and Tic Tac Toe – seen here in June with her young – are not the only mothers this year among the humpbacks featured in the MICS catalogue: another mother-calf duo recently made a notable incursion into the Marine Park: H753, a.k.a. Bad Chemistry! A little aside to explain the comical origin of her name: the dark lines at the bottom of the left lobe of her tail recall a melted Erlenmeyer flask (glass container used in labs), and, just above that, one can almost make out a puff of smoke… the whole think evokes a science experiment gone wrong!
In early June, H753 was spotted in Gaspé Bay with a calf close by her side. On June 5, researchers from MICS and the Sea Mammal Research Unit fitted the mother with a suction-cup tag to better understand her diving behaviour. During tracking, they were able to admire the pair surface feeding.
The visits of Bad Chemistry and Tingley with their respective calves are testimony that the season can still hold surprises. Observers, keep your eyes peeled!
Special thanks to the MICS team for the invaluable information on Tingley and Bad Chemistry.