Blue Whale

Research Sessions in the St. Lawrence Estuary available mid-August to the mid-September


Location and Research

Beginning in 1979, the focus of our research has been on the rorqual whales, with particular emphasis on the blue whale. MICS was the first organization to carry out long-term studies of the endangered blue whale. We have since studied blue whales throughout the St. Lawrence, in the Sea of Cortez, and off Iceland and West Greenland. We have compiled extensive blue whale photo catalogues for the western North Atlantic and the Sea of Cortez. The former includes over 400 individual blue whales, while the latter includes over 300 individuals. 

Blue whales can be found in the St. Lawrence from April to January; however, they are seen regularly along the Québec North Shore from the Mingan/Anticosti Islands to the St. Lawrence Estuary from August to December. Concentrations are found in the Mingan/Anticosti region, off Sept-Îles, and from Pointe-des-Monts to Grandes Bergeronnes. We offer dedicated blue whale sessions during August and September, which enable us to cover a broad area and maximize our field efforts in the St. Lawrence. These sessions are for participants seeking the best opportunity to observe blue whales and experience field research. Due to the more specialized nature of these sessions, we limit the number of participants to six. Our sessions have little in common with conventional whale watching and offer a unique opportunity to join MICS biologists whose main objective is to get the work done! Weather permitting, long hours will be spent on the water observing blue whales and collecting field data.

Food, Lodging, and Details

Because groups are kept to a minimum, it is imperative to book in advance. The minimum stay is seven days; however, one can extend a session to 14 days. Accommodations are in motels or bed and breakfasts according to availability. Breakfasts are eaten at the motel or B&B, lunches, prepared by the combined field team, are eaten on the water, while dinners are enjoyed in local restaurants. We pick up and drop off our participants at the most convenient airport, depending on the distribution of the whales; Sept-Iles, Gaspe and Baie-Comeau will be the principal airports used.

Personal Equipment

MICS will provide participants with thermal flotation suits for safety. While air temperatures may be warm, water temperatures are much colder. Participants should bring warm and comfortable clothing for long days at sea. We highly encourage 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.

Session leader will be Richard Sears.

Prices and Dates

August 19, 2017 through September 16, 2017

$ 2 695 canadian 1-week session
$ 5 120 canadian 2-week session
double occupancy
[add 230$ (can.)/week for single occupancy]

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

Technical List
Medical form