This research program is not available for the 2016 season
The Gaspé Peninsula: First Contact with the Whales of the St. Lawrence
The eastern tip of Gaspé is the first place we find whales early in the field season. Blue, fin, minke and humpback whales can be sighted there as early as April but are more regularly seen from May through July. The eastern region of Gaspé is where the whales feed early in the season before moving further into the St. Lawrence to the west and to the north. Off Gaspé one can regularly observe breaching humpback whales, as well as surface feeding of the above-mentioned species. Additionally, it is not uncommon to observe Atlantic white-sided dolphins, harbor and grey seals, harbor porpoises, and occasionally right whales, all of which come to prey on the swarms of copepods which live in these nutrient-rich waters.
This magnificent region, which offers an abundant supply of food for all the species that have discovered its rich waters, is one of the prime sites for observing marine life in the St. Lawrence. The striking Forillon National Park juts out into the St. Lawrence, forming one of the picturesque facades of Gaspé Bay, a magical place in which to observe and study numerous species of marine mammals. The observations we carry out in this region are essential in determining dispersal and distribution of individuals in the St. Lawrence each year. The research off the Gaspé Peninsula complements the work we do from June to September in the Mingan Island region, in July off Blanc Sablon, and during August and September in the St. Lawrence Estuary. These combined studies enable us to form a more accurate picture of marine mammal ecology in the St. Lawrence. A yearly rendez-vous not to be missed, join our Gaspé research sessions, assist us in our studies, and contribute to this research effort!
As with all our St. Lawrence sessions, participants have the opportunity to observe and contribute to the study of blue, fin, and humpback whales from 7m (22 ft) rigid-hulled inflatable boats. Participants will experience fieldwork, not just a whale watch, and learn about the biology and ecology of the marine mammals of the area.
MICS will provide participants with thermal flotation suits for safety. While the air temperature may be warm, the water temperature is much cooler. Participants should bring warm and comfortable clothing for long days at sea. We recommend wearing layers, including thermal underwear, wool sweaters, pile/fleece and shell jackets, gloves, warm socks, a scarf and hat, and warm footwear. Sun protection for the face, lips, and eyes is also essential. Do not forget to bring binoculars, a camera, and plenty of batteries!
Food and Lodging
Accommodations will be provided for you in a motel or a bed and breakfast. Breakfasts are eaten at the motel or B&B; lunches, prepared by the combined field team, are eaten on the water; and dinners are enjoyed in local restaurants. Access is by air from Montréal or road from northern Maine and along the St. Lawrence from southern Québec.