Humpback whales - 2018 catalog results
Mother and calf swimming with another individual - Miller Laboratory@SMRU
Overall, 2018 was a great year for humpback whale sightings in the St.Lawrence! We identified 113 animals in total which is the second best year after 2017. Moreover, the number of calves observed in 2018 was higher than in recent years; 6 calves were observed in total. However, this remains less than the long-term average. Some former calves that were seen in the past were resighted this year, unfortunately almost all had entanglement scars.
Former calf, Pineshu with nearly symmetrical entanglement scars ©MICS
About 33% of humpback whales added to our catalog are new animals which is remarkable and great news since we usually have 10-15% new animals added to our catalog in past years!
Changes in distribution
Several changes in distribution were observed. Very few humpback whales were observed in Gaspé which is unusual. At least 12 humpback whales observed in the Estuary were whales usually present in the Gulf of Maine, which is noteworthy. This change in distribution could be caused by many factors. Last year, the Gulf of Maine experienced a record in sea temperature which could explain this shift in distribution since warming waters affect prey distributions.
A humpback whale feeding at the surface ©MICS Darkstar's new calf, H882, lobtailing ©MICS