Beluga stories: this is the seventh episode of the transcript of the training lecture given by Robert Michaud at the CIMM on June 22, 2015. In this text and audio episode: the biologist answers questions from the audience who wishes to know more about newborn beluga mortalities.

On June 22, Robert Michaud, scientific director and co-founder of the Group for Research and Education on Marine Mammals (GREMM), gave a training lecture at the Marine Mammal Interpretation Centre (CIMM) in Tadoussac. The biologist and St. Lawrence beluga specialist shared stories about these whales and raised questions about the current decline in the St. Lawrence population. Whales Online brings you excerpts of this presentation, in the form of a sort of written and audio series to be followed all summer and fall.

With regard to newborn belugas found alive on the river banks, do we have a theory that might explain their strandings? Are the young being plagued by some problem? Could the mothers be suffering from dystocia (calving difficulties)?
Listen (1 min 28 s) (in French)

© GREMM

Nadia Ménard, ecologist and team leader for the Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park, adds some food for thought, especially concerning the role of new contaminants in the St. Lawrence (PBDE, chemicals used in the manufacture of fire retardants). The 2008 red tide is also mentioned. In conclusion, is some specific situation responsible for these deaths, or is it a combination of factors?
Listen (2 min 40 s)  (in French)

Did the food resources available to females play a role in the newborn mortalities? Herring – a top quality resource for belugas – is discussed. And what role was played by the presence or absence of sea ice in the Gulf of St. Lawrence during the winter?
Listen (4 min 12 s) (in French)

© GREMM

Does the peak of newborn mortalities correspond to a peak in births? Do we know the survival rate of newborns?
Listen (3 min 26 s) (in French)

To learn more

On Whales Online:
Is the accumulation of flame retardants in St. Lawrence belugas cause for concern?

Marine Mammals Emergencies mobilized following red tide (archives of News from Near and Afar, 2008) (in French)

About the beluga (data sheet)

Robert Michaud bio

Previous episodes of the training lecture:
Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3
Episode 4
Episode 5
Episode 6

News - 19/11/2015

Équipe du GREMM

Led by scientific director Robert Michaud, the research team of the Group for Research and Education on Marine Mammals (GREMM) studies St. Lawrence beluga whales and large rorquals (humpback, blue and fin whales) at sea. The Bleuvet and the BpJAM leave the port of Tadoussac every morning to gather valuable information on the life of the whales of the St. Lawrence Estuary.

Recommended articles

“Window on Belugas” project receives $600,000 in funding from the Quebec government

On Monday, November 15, 2021 at 2:30 p.m., a press conference was held in Cacouna to announce the Government of Quebec’s…

|News 12/11/2021

North Atlantic Right Whales: Climate Refugees

The North Atlantic right whale population is down to approximately 350 individuals and is critically endangered. The recovery of this…

|News 8/11/2021

Climate Change Triggers Shifts in Fin Whale Diets

As predators, fin whales are considered generalists, capable of hunting and feeding on a variety of prey ranging from zooplankton…

|News 1/11/2021