A humpback whale swam up the St. Lawrence River and made its way into the Montréal River. It was spotted by local residents, which is the first time a humpback whale has ever been seen in the Montréal River.
Reports indicate that the whale traveled from Tadoussac, a village in Québec. It left the saltwater where the Saguenay and Saint Lawrence rivers converge.
Last week, the whale was spotted underneath the Pont de Québec. On the morning of May 30, witnesses spotted the whale near the Jacques Cartier Bridge in Montreal.
A humpback whale was spotted in Montreal's old port over the weekend. Experts are warning that while an incredible sight for many who wouldn't normally see the whale, the appearance may mean that it's disoriented or sick.
— Breakfast Television Toronto (@BTtoronto) June 1, 2020
Montréal is a considerable distance inland, which is what makes the whale spotting so abnormal.
The coordinator for the Québec Marine Mammal Emergency Network, Robert Michaud, told CBC that the situation was “unusual.” He also added: “It’s the first time that we see a humpback past the Quebec area.”
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It is thought that the whale may have been confused, which led to its traveling so far inland. Then again, it may just have been following a shoal of fish.
La baleine à bosse a effectué une série de sauts spectaculaires pendant plus d'une heure, près du quai de l'horloge. Magnifique photo de mon collègue Jacques Nadeau. @LeDevoir pic.twitter.com/0cRZlJj4nU
— Alexandre Shields (@AShields_Devoir) May 30, 2020
“We don’t know why this animal made this journey. There are several hypotheses. Humans, whales and land mammals, sometimes they are vagrants that go in unusual places.
These journeys are usually a series of mistakes. But what is sure is that this animal doesn’t belong to this habitat.”
— Baleines en direct (@BaleineMagazine) May 30, 2020
It is not impossible for a whale to live in freshwater but it isn’t exactly the best environment for its survival. In addition, the possibility of it being harmed by increased “marine traffic” certainly does exist.
The whale has been spotted multiple times by local residents, who have been watching it resurface for air.
There have been some measures put into effect to protect the whale. For example, a fine may be levied against locals who go within 100 m of the animals. Michaud is recommending that you watch the whale from at least 200 m away.
Even though humpbacks are typically gentle, if they are threatened, they could lash out.
In other news: a humpback whale is hanging about in Montreal pic.twitter.com/hsuUbjWJB6
— Philippe (@phil_huot) May 31, 2020
Another employee at the Quebec Marine Mammal Emergency Response Network, Marie-Eve Muller told the Montréal Gazette that the whale will likely not travel further up the river.
“The current is quite strong, it’s trying to go up but it’s having a hard time fighting the current.
It’s swimming freely so that’s good, it means it can move around as it needs. It’s hard to predict if it has hit the end of the road and will turn around and hopefully go back to her other humpback whale friends in Tadoussac or Gaspé.”
Although the whale may be without other humpbacks nearby, it is being monitored carefully by the Quebec Marine Mammal Emergency Network.
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