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Field story 7


A very special highlight for the group was their visit of Pierre-Henry Fontaine and his bone museum. The visit was only possible as weather conditions, tidal phase and time allowed a landing by boat.
 

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As usual Pierre-Henry greeted us standing on the black and red coloured rocky shore of Île Verte, a long island on the South side of the St. Lawrence River. During the following three hours, the biologist and bone enthusiast almost brought the bones exhibited in a small barn back to life. His witty and knowledge discourses revealed a very unique point of few on topics such as life, death, evolution, and hunting. 
 

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Special story

Northern gannets (Morus bassanus) are migratory birds, which spend most of the winter at sea. In spring they return to the same nesting places. The world largest colony (121,000 birds) nest on the high cliffs of Bonaventure Island off Gaspé Peninsula. 
 

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In past years an increasing number of these magnificent birds have been observed in our study area. Not only do they majestically glide through the air, they also dive-bomb vertically into the water from heights of up to 40 m. Although most dives are relatively shallow, they sometimes dive as deep as 22 m in pursuit of fish using their wings and feet to swim.
 

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Whale sightings (highest # per day)

Minke whales: 42

47 individuals identified: Badaud, Barbouille, Bringgeli, Bubbler, Bushmills, Chubby, Crab Claw, Daks-alike, Échelon, Funambule, Glenfiddich, Goliath, Harley, L'Onde, Mamillon, Man-in-the-Moon, Obelix, Ondine, Ovale, Owl Eyes, Parus, Piccola, Pompon, Ratatouille, Sawcut, Scratchy, Senzafin, Slash Eleven, Speedy, Stubby, Suss, Teapot, Tin Whistle, Whalerider, Witche's Hat, Zinzin.


Other species

Finbacks: 12+
Humpbacks
Belugas
Harbour porpoise
Grey seals: 200+
Gannets: 15+
Loons

 

Field story 8

Throughout the summer we regularly surveyed the area of the Saguenay mouth and Fjord to confirm that most times minke whales were absent. The specialists of the area, like Loca, Bubbler and Speedy hunted mainly in the shallow waters west of La Toupie, while Artiste surface fed a few times just of Pointe d’Islet.
 

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During one such survey into the fjord, we discovered countless of huge and colourful polar sea stars glued to the rocks. Never before have I seen so many of these invertebrates waiting for the tide to rise.
 

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Special story

The glossy sea was blue coloured from one of the rare clear skies of the season. No clouds spoilt our day. We headed offshore to survey the Southern slope of the Laurentian Channel head. We didn’t get far. Suddenly a dark body emerged high into the sky. As hoped it was a breaching minke whale.  
 

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Slowing down at reasonable distance the whale continued for some more breaches and, after a break, surfaced not far from us. At low speed we paralleled with the whale’s course in order to take identification shots. After a very slight dorsal arch, a typical behaviour for a travelling minke, the whale disappeared. We stayed on course and speed hoping for another encounter, as photographs weren’t sufficient to identify the unmarked animal.
 

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Then, literally out of the blue, the minke surfaced powerfully at 2 o’clock just meters from the boat. I didn’t change my behaviour. Then just as unexpectedly its huge and dark body emerged into the air right beside us on port side. It wasn’t a full breach but certainly its body reached the height of our eyes. After a few more surfacings near the boat, she went back to her original behaviour travelling Southeast.

We thanked her for this spectacular encounter, turned the boat and headed west where soon after Funambule and later another minke whale visited our boat for a short period.

What a day that was.
 

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A warm thank you to Lea, Lorenz, Rosanna, Volker,
Simone and Caroline of our team 3!


Whale sightings (highest # per day)

Minke whales: 46

43 individuals identified: Artiste, Badaboum, Badaud, Bisou, Bringgeli, Bushmills, Calvin, Chap-Chap, Chicouté, Christal, Chubby, Coin-Coin, Crab Claw, Cristale, Daks-alike, Drapeau, Funambule, Goliath, Harley, Heaps'n Heaps, Honeycomb, Itchy, Mamillon, Monticule, Obelix, Ohnifin, Ovale, Papillon, Patapouf, Picasso, Puntini, Ratatouille, Sawcut, Scema, Shawne, Slash Eleven, Suss, Teapot, Trilignes, Wallace, Whalerider, Witche's Hat, Zinzin.


Other species

Blue whales
Finbacks: 12+
Humpbacks
Belugas
Harbour porpoises
Grey seals: 200+
Gannets: 15+
Loons