July 21, 2006

The MICS’s Gaspé team, Andrea and Valentine, crossed the St. Lawrence Gulf again after their 3-week research trip. In total, they photo-identified 17 Blue Whales, 21 Humpbacks, and observed Finbacks, Pilot Whales, and White-sided Dolphins. The calm waters of the Baie de Gaspé, combined with the mild weather in the area permitted them to work almost every day. After their seven-hour crossing, “The Girls” were exhausted but happy to be back in Mingan! MICS would like to thank the following people for their generous support and hospitality and for going out of their way to help during the Gaspé research trip: Jean, Guy, Gilles and the team of Croisières Baie de Gaspé; Gilles & Alexa of the Forillon International Youth Hostel; Lise of Motel Chalets Baie de Gaspé; Danny of Plongée Forillon; and Locations Burton.

Andrea and Valentine weren’t the only ones to cross the Gulf. As predicted in last week’s newsletter, H009 “Fleuret” was observed in the Jacques-Cartier Strait. Fleuret was accompanied by H277 “Tingley”. These two Humpback Whale females had been seen together in Gaspésie last week. Most of the work relating to the social behaviour of Humpbacks has been done in their southern breeding grounds where groups of males will often compete around solitary females. Though we often observe females travelling or feeding together, no one is certain whether these relationships are temporary or if the whales tend to frequent the same individuals. Are Fleuret and Tingley “friends” or were they just following the currents?!

The MICS team had an unusual observation this week. On the same day, two different Minke Whale calves were seen in the Mingan area. One of them was sighted in the western part of the Mingan Archipelago just offshore from Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan and was estimated as being approximately 2.5 to 3 metres long (adults can grow to 9 metres). The other was observed a few miles out of the islands and was 3 to 4 metres long. Although this species is quite abundant throughout the Gulf, their calves are rarely seen. To see one Minke calf is rare, to see two on the same day is… MICS!