Immerse yourself in the marine mammal fieldwork that MICS has conducted for over thirty years! Research sessions are the cornerstone of our education programs, during which nature enthusiasts can participate in our studies and observe the world's largest animals. We offer one-week or two-week research sessions at various study sites throughout the North Atlantic where participants gain hands-on experience in whale research as part of the field team. Participants become "research apprentices" who learn and use different techniques employed by biologists who study cetaceans in the field. This is a unique educational experience and is satisfying for people who either have a personal interest in cetaceans or who want to work in this field in the future.
Our sessions offer the public the opportunity to escape to the solitude of the sea and immerse themselves in an educational adventure. Participants will be introduced to the unique geology and flora of the local area, as well as rookeries of sea birds such as Atlantic puffins, Arctic terns, razorbills, and eider ducks, to name but a few, in addition to the marine mammal species of the region. A typical day begins early in morning when you join experienced field biologists aboard 7 m (22 ft) hard-bottom inflatable boats and travel out of the harbor in search of the whales. As we head offshore and scan for spouts on the horizon, you will be treated to up-close views of smaller marine mammals such as grey seals, harbor porpoises, and often extensive rafts of sea birds. Farther offshore we will encounter the large baleen whales including humpback, fin, minke and blue whales and we will work with your help to identify individuals and understand how and why the animals may be utilizing the environment.
We are certain that experiencing the graceful breach of a 40-ton humpback whale, a close encounter with an 85-foot blue whale, or being engulfed in a group of 500 Atlantic white-sided dolphins will leave a lasting impression.
We work on 6-7m inflatable boats and spend between six and ten hours on the water, weather and whale permitting! Besides being comfortable at sea, you do not have to have special knowledge or skills to come on our trips; whether or not you actively participate in the research is up to you. If you simply want to observe and photograph the marine mammals and birds, it is your vacation - you decide. Whether you seek adventure, knowledge, or simply want to relax in tranquil surroundings, we are certain that you will live the experience you desire as a participant in one of our research sessions.
We offer the Mingan Archipelago research session at our field station located in the province of Québec, on the North Shore of the St. Lawrence, facing the Mingan Islands. These islands, now part of the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve, are within three miles of shore and are renowned for their distinctive limestone rock formations carved by ice and sea. The local waters between the Archipelago and Anticosti Island are teeming with small fish and zooplankton during the summer which attracts the large rorqual whales that MICS has studied every year here since 1979.
Our Blue Whale research session covers areas in the Gulf of St. Lawrence ranging from the Mingan Islands and Anticosti area to the St. Lawrence Estuary depending on the seasonal distribution of the whales which can vary within and between years.
We also offer a research session in the Azores, based in Lajes de Pico on Pico Island and another session on the Gaspe Peninsula. Both of these locations are known blue whale hotspots and also offer the opportunity to view other species of whales, dolphins and seabirds.
All MICS research sessions include room and board, except for the day trips.
Your Vacation Benefits Research and Conservation
The research sessions we offer provide us with the funds needed to carry out field studies in the immediate Mingan/Anticosti study area, the St. Lawrence Estuary, and beyond to Iceland, Baja, and the Azores. By participating in our research sessions you support our work financially and contribute directly to various aspects of the fieldwork.