Taken from the newsletter Portrait de baleines, September 1, 2011
Whalerider is an old acquaintance of the ORES (Ocean Research and Education Society) team, which for over 30 years has been studying amongst other topics the distribution, habitat and behaviour of minke whales in the St. Lawrence Estuary and the Saguenay Fjord. Ever since it was first encountered nearly 17 years ago, this whale, often observed between Les Bergeronnes and Les Escoumins, has been recognizable by the marks on its sides. Then, in 2010, she acquired a first notch on her dorsal fin, which made identification easier. Also, this year, Whalerider showed a fresh injury on the hind part of her dorsal fin: a new mark of her identity. According to : ORES studies, 73% of the minke whales patronizing the Marine Park and its surroundings have marks on their dorsal fin and these marks are generally stable. Furthermore, they are one of the best means of individual recognition of the species. Although the origins of these marks is not always known, it seems that some of them are attributable to human causes such as entanglements and collisions.
In all these years monitoring minke whales in their summer habitat and photographing the marks on their bodies, ORES has compiled a veritable family album. Additionally, the team invites anyone interested in knowing a little more about the minke whale they photographed – here or elsewhere – to send in their snapshot. If the animal is identified, they would be pleased to pass on any available information to the photographer.
For the time being, Whalerider’s sex remains unknown. It is highly likely however that it is a female, like the majority of minkes in the Estuary, males mostly remaining in the high seas. Sexing is done on carcasses found on shore, or during behaviours where the genital slits are exposed.