Photo: Josiane Cabana
The humpback whale was observed during a week in the area of île Sainte-Hélène.
The mystery plane on the situation of the humpback whale that spent a week swimming in the Montreal area. The cetacean, which always seemed to be in good form Saturday night, has been seen for the last time on Sunday, in the sector of Pointe-aux-Trembles.
Depending on what was specified in the Network quebec marine mammal emergency response (RQUMM) in an update of the situation published Monday morning, the last confirmed sighting of this young humpback whale back to the end of the morning, Sunday.
The day before, on Saturday evening, the whale was observed throughout the day near the Jacques-Cartier bridge, between the island of Sainte-Hélène and île Notre-Dame. It was in this sector since Thursday, after having spent not less than five days at the entrance to the Old Port, where it attracted every evening hundreds of people come to observe, in particular its dozens of spectacular jumps out of the water.
Is it that the humpback whale has finally decided to descend the course of the river St. Lawrence, to return to the salt water of the estuary, and therefore its natural habitat ? Impossible to know it for the moment. Monday, by the time these lines were written, it had still not been reviewed.
“The humpback whale could stay for several days in the area of Montreal before leaving by himself “, said Monday morning the RQUMM. The organization therefore invites citizens to report any sightings of this whale lost, but also to avoid the bother. Federal regulation prohibits all vessels from approaching within 100 metres of a marine mammal. This provision does not, however, apply to commercial vessels “in transit” – that is, those which go down or up the St. Lawrence.
The spokesperson for Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Antoine Rivierre, said on Monday afternoon that a team of patrol working on the St. Lawrence river, downstream from Montreal, to try to locate the whale. If it is identified, notices will be published to prevent boaters and commercial vessels of the presence of the animal.
Photo: Josiane Cabana
The humpback whale has exhibited his flukes several times on Saturday, near the Jacques-Cartier bridge.
Director of communications at the Port of Montréal, Mélanie Nadeau said for his part that the “control centre” participates in the monitoring efforts, in collaboration with experts and the federal government. “The stakeholders involved in the management of commercial vessel traffic are therefore all aware of the presence of the whale in order not to hurt “, she said.
Researchers who have followed the situation over the last few days had decided not to install a tag on this animal, because of the effects it could have on the whale. “There are significant risks to the animal if one uses such a tag under the skin, since it does not have the antibodies to fight the pathogens in fresh water. What’s more, the animal is subject to continuous monitoring. Regardless of its position, it will be reported quickly, ” it said recently in Having been the scientific director of Group for research and education on marine mammals, Robert Michaud.
If she ever decided to go down the St. Lawrence river, and browse through the nearly 400 kilometers that separate it from its natural environment, this whale who is aged two to three years will still be exposed to a number of risks to its survival. It could be hit by one of the many commercial ships that sail on the St. Lawrence river. The cetacean could also get caught up in a sector that is shallow and fail living.
It is not known why this whale, which belongs to a species frequently observed in summer along the North Coast and offshore of the gaspé peninsula, has decided to retrace the course of the river St. Lawrence, to go up to Montreal. It is not known why she decided to stay over a week in the very strong current of the river, which can be very demanding for the animal.
However, it is known that a prolonged stay in fresh water may have an impact on metabolism and on his skin. It showed also signs of the effects of this trip, Saturday, according to photos taken in Montreal.
Professor at the Faculty of veterinary medicine of the Université de Montréal, Stéphane Lair, who has analyzed the photos, believes that these marks would come from the presence of micro-organisms that can attach to the skin of the animal. “To my knowledge, this organism has never been associated with mortality or disease significant for cetaceans. “” The epidermis is very thick in whales, and so these “infections” should not cause any problem, ” he explained Monday. These organizations should, according to him, disappear very quickly, if the whale returns into salt water.
The researchers know not whether this animal, which remained in a good state of flesh and very dynamic during the last week, can feed in the portion of river St. Lawrence, as we do not find here his usual preys. Humpback whales, which are each year migrations of several thousand kilometres, are able to live without eating for a period of time.
What is a humpback whale ?
Length : 13 to 17 meters of the adult
Maximum weight : 30 tons to 40 tons at the maximum
Behavior : cetacean solitary, often in pairs or in a group
Longevity : approximately 80 years
World Population : estimated to be 55 000, divided between different populations
Population of humpback whales of the Western North Atlantic (to which belongs the whale in Montreal) : estimated to be 4,000 individuals, according to data from the canadian government. It is classified ” not at risk “.