Tryphon in memoriam

Taken from the newsletter Portrait de baleines, July 26, 2012

Tryphon was the most famous sperm whale of the St. Lawrence. First photographed off of Les Bergeronnes in 1991, he was by far the most faithful of the 30 or so sperm whales registered in the GREMM-compiled catalogue, having been photographed nearly annually in the Estuary. Land-based observers between Les Bergeronnes and Les Escoumins were often the first to spot the animal and report his presence to researchers. He became a familiar “face” in the Côte-Nord (North Shore) region.

On June 10, 2009, Tryphon unfortunately got tangled up in the lines of crab traps in Sept-Îles. Despite all efforts made to free him by the Quebec Marine Mammal Emergency Response Network and the fisherman , he died a few days later, still in a clutter of ropes and at the end of a final journey which would have taken him to Les Bergeronnes. His carcass was later found on Île Saint-Barnabé near Rimouski, where a GREMM team documented his injuries and entanglement: at least 40 loops of rope were lassoed around his lower jaw. Thanks to the support of the Fondation de la faune du Québec (Quebec wildlife foundation), the team recovered the jaws, teeth and the ropes, which were prioritized as key elements for raising awareness. Tryphon’s remains were buried on site by the City of Rimouski.

Pursuant to analysis of one of Tryphon’s teeth conducted by Véronique Lesage and team at the Maurice Lamontagne Institute (Fisheries and Oceans Canada), it was determined that Tryphon was at least 60 years old. Eventually, Tryphon’s jaws and teeth will be on display at the CIMM, and replicas will be made for display in museums partnered with the Quebec Marine Mammal Emergency Response Network. Until then, to see a complete sperm whale skeleton, visit the CIMM, where another individual is on display that died in the Gaspé in summer 2003.

The new boat of the company Otis Excursions is named “Tryphon” in honour of this genuine character of the North Shore. With a capacity of 48 passengers, this boat replaces two smaller crafts, which represents just one of the many efforts of Eco-Whale Alliance member businesses to ensure responsible whale-watching practices within the Marine Park.

Learn more:

sperm whale data sheet