Mingan Archipelago

Research Sessions available mid-June to mid-September

Location and Wildlife
Join MICS biologists in the famed Mingan Island region, approximately 1000 km northeast of Montréal, for a 6-day, 7-night program. This research session offers the public the opportunity to participate in marine mammal research along the North Shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Our research sessions provide unique wildlife experiences just a few miles from shore. Activities on land include introduction to research techniques, the museum, and photo-identification. Participants will have the opportunity to learn about biopsy techniques, marine mammal classification, acoustics, feeding and migratory patterns, evolution and adaptations of whales to their environment, diving physiology, toxicology, social behaviour, whale anatomy, and whaling history.

Our research station is located in Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan, a village of approximately 600 people, on the North Shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. It is possible to fly or drive from Montréal to our station. The station includes a museum describing the natural history of local cetaceans and research facilities. The Gulf of St. Lawrence is a highly productive feeding ground that supports many of the rorqual whales including minkes, humpbacks, fins, and blues. Many other smaller marine mammals are seen large numbers throughout the region such as harp and grey seals, harbor porpoises, and Atlantic white-sided dolphins. During the summer, a large puffin colony nests on Île aux Perroquets, just a few miles off shore. Plenty of gannets, guillemots, petrels, razorbills, and eider ducks can be seen throughout the islands as well.

MICS has been studying blue whales and other rorquals for over twenty-five years in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The method of photo-identification for blue whales, used today by biologists in the field, was developed by MICS and has helped us catalogue over 400 individual blue whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. MICS has also compiled extensive photo-identification catalogues of the other species in the area: our fin whale catalogue contains over 350 individuals, and our humpback catalogue contains over 600 individuals. We also biopsy the rorqual whales of the region in order to determine their sex and to analyze the blubber for toxins.


Each day, weather permitting, we leave from the dock at Mingan on a 22 ft. rigid-hulled inflatables spending 6 to 10 hours searching for and researching the whales. Participants will have the opportunity to observe photo-identification and biopsies of whales while also assisting in the collection of data at sea. Researchers on board the boats will provide information about the biology and ecology of the whales and how to identify species and individuals based on their characteristic markings.

On Land Activities
During your stay you will receive a tour of the interpretation center and an introduction to our research. This includes hands-on experience with matching photo-ids, working in the darkroom, and transferring data to the logbook.
Personal Equipment
The climate of the North Shore can be cool, even in the summer months, and boat trips can last up to ten hours. It is important that you bring the following: sunblock for your face and lips, sunglasses, layers of warm clothes (wool, pile, polypropylene, etc.), gloves, a scarf, a warm hat, and a good pair of running shoes or rubber boots. Optional: a camera, plenty of batteries, binoculars, and medicine for seasickness if you are prone.
Food and Lodging

Lodging, breakfast will be in a B&B located in the village facing the sea (private room, shared bathroom). Lunches, prepared by the field team, are eaten on the water or at the team's house, depending on the weather,
and dinner in a local restaurant

Closest Airport
Sept-Îles (YZV)

Prices and Dates

July 01, 2017 through September 09, 2017

$ 2395 canadian 1-week session
$ 4550 canadian 2-week session
double occupancy
[add 100$ (can.)/week for single occupancy]

Food, lodging and transport to and from the airport is included in the price

Technical List