June 30, 2006
The whales have started to arrive in the Jacques-Cartier Strait! We have now photo-identified over 30 Fin Whales in our Mingan research area. Our Finback expert, Julien Delarue, has already matched seven of those to our catalogue. One individual, F071, had last been seen in 1989! Our Fin Whale observations also include three cow-calf pairs. This, in itself, is a great start to the 2006 season. Prior to last year's "baby boom", we had never seen more than three Finback calves in a single season. Another notable observation was the early arrival of Humpback Whales. Two individuals were seen feeding in the Mingan Islands. Both of them appeared fairly small and were probably juveniles. We immediately tried to match them with last year's calves, but were unsuccessful.
Another outstanding sighting: our first Blue Whale of the season! B151 "Quicksilver" had only been observed once by MICS in 1984! Our Blue Whale catalogue now holds almost 400 individuals for the Gulf of St. Lawrence and many of them have not been seen for quite some time. This 22-year gap in sightings for Quicksilver confirms our belief that these animals may be found again in the Gulf, but also brings us to wonder: Where has Quicksilver been all these years?
B151 Quicksilver. Last seen in 1984
Andrea Bendlin and Valentine Ribadeau-Dumas safely crossed the Gulf for their two-week research expedition to Gaspé. During their crossing, they observed three Blue Whales and a pod of Long-finned Pilot Whales. Pilots are rarely seen in our area. They are more commonly found in deeper waters where they feed mainly on squid.
Andrea and Valentine have also made other interesting observations along the Gaspésie coast. They observed more Blues and some well-known Humpback Whales, namely H002 Splish, H006 "Freckles", and H007 Siam. These three individuals are amongst the oldest whales in our catalogue. We look forward to seeing them in Mingan in a few weeks.