Observation

Whaleswatching on the St. Lawrence Whaleswatching on the St. Lawrence

While on one of our whale-watching cruises, you will have the chance to observe one or several marine mammal species that inhabit the St. Lawrence estuary throughout the Manicouagan area from Tadoussac to Charlevoix , the latter area being where smaller species are found. The Marine Park is universally recognized for the variety of marine mammals present within its waters.

 

What can we observe?

The Blue Whale

The Blue Whale

  • Population : Visits approx. 15 times per year
  • Length : 20 - 30 metres
  • Maximum weight : 190 tons
  • Maximum age : 90
  • Maximum speed : 48 km/hour

Balaenoptera musculus, or the Blue Whale, is the largest mammal on the planet. The largest ever recorded dinosaur would have measured 24 metres and weighed almost 36 tons. The Blue Rorqual, which is often seen in Escoumins, can weigh as much as 145 tons and measure 32 metres; it can reach speeds of up to 20 knots and can dive as deep as two hundred fathoms (350 meters) for as long as 50 minutes. The Blue Rorqual enjoys large spaces and deep water, which is why the region surrounding Les Escoumins is a privileged area in which to observe this great cetacean. It is exceedingly rare that a Blue Rorqual will reach Charlevoix. Generally speaking, these creatures turn around after reaching the Laurentian canal off the coast of Tadoussac.

The Fin Whale

The Fin Whale

  • Observable Population : 60
  • Length : 22 - 27 metres
  • Maximum weight : 80 tons
  • Maximum age : 90
  • Maximum speed : 37 km/hour

Balanoptera physalus is the second largest whale in the world trumped only by the Blue Rorqual. It can swim very quickly thanks to its characteristic hydrodynamic body. It reaches maturity at 25 years of age. At this point, the Fin Whale can reach sizes ranging from 20 to 27 metres and weigh between 60 and 80 tons. The Common Fin Whale is found in fair numbers each year in Escoumins going on towards Tadoussac but very seldom will they be seen in Charlevoix.

The Mink Whale

The Mink Whale

  • Population : 200
  • Length : 8 - 12 metres
  • Maximum weight : 14 tons
  • Maximum age : 30 à 50
  • Maximum speed : 30 km/hour

Balaenoptera acuturostrara, known commonly as the Mink Whale, is the smallest relative of the Blue Whale. At maturity, it will span as much as 10 metres and weigh up to 8 tons. The Mink Whale is characterized by a smooth body shaped like a torpedo and thin at both extremities. Its head is rather pointed, which is the reason for which it is often referred to as the Pointed Muzzle Whale. Just as with all rorquals, the Mink Whale’s throat is equipped with folds or furrows which distend when it feeds. This species has dark gray skin on top with a white belly. One is almost certain to spot a Mink Whale during an expedition in Charlevoix, the mouth of the Saguenay River, near Bergeronnes as well as in Les Escoumins.

The Humpback Whale

The Humpback Whale

  • Population : 1 - 5
  • Length : 12 - 16 metres
  • Maximum weight : 35 tons
  • Maximum age : 48
  • Maximum speed : 27 km/hour

Megaptera novaengliaem, or Humpback Whale, generally measures between 12 and 13 metres but can sometimes reach as many as 16 metres and weighs between 25 and 35 tons. The Humpback Whale is without a doubt, the most spectacular whale. One can often see it leaping high out of water (breaching). It can also strike the surface of the water with its gigantic pectoral fins or with its tail (lobtailing). Its vocal repertoire is known for its uniqueness. The famous whale songs which often seduce tourists are produced by this species. Although it is generally rather solitary, the Humpback Whale can sometimes be observed in small groups, and even in larger groups of up to 100 whales.

Each year, several Humpback Whales are present in the area’s waters. They are known to show their tale during nearly every dive. The Humpback Whale is present in Les Escoumins, in Bergeronnes, off the coast of Tadoussac, and sometimes near the mouth of the fjord.

 

The sperm whale

The sperm whale

  • Population : 1 - 5
  • Length : 15 - 20 metres
  • Maximum weight : 57 tons
  • Maximum age : 60 - 70
  • Maximum speed : 30 km/hour

Physeter catodon, also known as the common cachalot, reminds us of story of Moby Dick. It spans between 11 and 15 metres with larger specimens sometimes reaching as much as 18 metres. It can weigh anywhere between 15 and 40 tons.

The Sperm Whale does not have a dorsal fin. Its skin is gray-brown and wrinkled. A vent can be seen at the tip of its head. The whale’s blow characteristically points forward at a 45o angle making it easily recognizable. Capable of diving thousands of metres, the cachalot is quite an attractive mammal! It is present each year in Les Escoumins although it tends to stay clear of Tadoussac and is never seen in Charlevoix. This particular cetacean is sometimes difficult to observe because it can dive for over an hour only to resurface kilometres away from where it plunged.

 

The Beluga Whale

The Beluga Whale

  • Population : protected species
  • Length : 3 - 5 metres
  • Maximum weight : 1,6 tons
  • Maximum age : 30 - 35
  • Maximum speed : 20 km/hour

Unlike other species of whales, the Beluga is present in our waters throughout the year. It measures between 4,4 and 6 metres, its weigh ranging between 630 and 1500 kilograms.

Upon reaching maturity, the beluga becomes completely white, while at birth it ranges from dark gray to nearly blue giving it the common name of “bleuvet”. As it ages, the skin changes to pale gray before turning bright white. They can be observed almost anywhere in the St-Lawrence as far as the Island of Ile-aux-Coudres. Belugas are found far up the fjord where they can often be seen near the Tadoussac ferry as well as around the Saint-Simeon ferry in Charlevoix. They also tend to frequent the rocks around Les Escoumins, des rochers des Escoumins and Cap-Bon-Desir.

Seals are also a common sight. They can be observed at any time along with the occasional group of dolphins. The world’s smallest whale, the Harbour Porpoise, is also plentiful near Bergeronnes, Tadoussac and Les Escoumins.

 

 

Les Écumeurs du Saint-Laurent

LES ÉCUMEURS DU SAINT-LAURENT

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Les Escoumins
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