Satellite Tagging Project
In order to gather more detailed information on blue whale movements in the St Lawrence we deployed our first satellite tags in 1996. This effort yielded 12 and 19 days of tracking data in the St Lawrence Estuary. In 2002 we tagged a single blue whale, and tracked its dispersal from the Estuary out into the Gulf of St Lawrence and East of the Magdalene Islands for just over a month.
In 2010 a more regular blue whale tagging program, using low-penetration tags was implemented in the St Lawrence Estuary and off the eastern tip of Gaspe Peninsula, which resulted in 19 tag deployments. The satellite tagging data has confirmed and expanded on the data collected through photo-ID since the 80s, that had revealed that blue whales regularly disperse east and west along the Gaspé Peninsula from spring to late fall. Photo-ID and satellite tag data now confirms that dispersal occurs from the St Lawrence to Cabot Strait and beyond in the fall.
This collaborative tagging program with Dr. Lessage of Department of Fisheries (DFO) in Mont-Joli, QC, will be pursued in 2014 and will enable us to increase our knowledge of blue whale habitat use in eastern Canadian waters.