A second minke whale spotted in Montreal

A second minke whale was observed on Wednesday in the St. Lawrence River near Montreal, a completely unprecedented situation in recent history.

Updated yesterday at 5:01 p.m.

Lila Dussault

Lila Dussault
The Press

Vincent Larin

Vincent Larin
The Press

“It could be the same individual as the one observed around Trois-Rivières on Monday May 9, and at Varennes on Wednesday morning”, indicated the Group for Research and Education on Marine Mammals (GREMM) late Wednesday afternoon.

The presence of the animal had been reported earlier Wednesday, around 12:30 p.m., at buoy 187, near the De Maisonneuve district. A team was dispatched to the scene to try to locate him and follow his movements.

This is the second specimen of the same species in Montreal waters at the same time, a completely new situation. His colleague was observed near Île Sainte-Hélène until mid-afternoon on Wednesday.

The GREMM asks people who manage to spot the two animals not to try to approach them with a boat and to immediately call 1 877 722-5346, the Marine Mammal Emergencies number.

The first is doing well

Volunteers from the Quebec Marine Mammal Emergency Response Network (RQUMM) resumed their observation shift at 8 a.m. Wednesday morning to observe the first minke whale, which was still in the same place as the day before, near the shore of Île Sainte-Hélène, at the height of the sculpture of the Three-discs.

On Tuesday, his state of health appeared to be good, even if his presence in fresh water is considered perilous for his well-being. “He swims quietly on the spot, against the current, his behavior is normal, his ventilation is regular and the condition of his skin is good”, specifies the GREMM on its website.

On Wednesday, a member of the mobile team of the emergency network moved to the scene to analyze the situation “in depth”, according to the GREMM. So far, it has been decided that no human intervention would be put in place to try to convince the cetacean to turn back towards the St. Lawrence estuary, more than 400 kilometers away.

“There is currently no known technique or expertise in the world to move or repel a marine animal of this size over 400 km, also specifies the GREMM on its website. The animal must choose to turn back on its own. »

A natural phenomenon

Several criteria must be met for the RQUMM to decide to intervene with a marine animal in difficulty, and the minke whale does not meet them. In particular, it is not part of an endangered species and its presence does not pose a public health risk, specifies Robert Michaud, scientific director of the GREMM. Not to mention that its ascent to Montreal, although it is a rare occurrence whose causes researchers do not know, remains a natural phenomenon.

In 2020, a humpback whale also dazzled Montrealers with its jumps in the St. Lawrence River, cheering up the confined population at the start of the pandemic. However, the whale was found stranded near Varennes two weeks later. After an autopsy, the exact cause of his death could not be determined with certainty. She could have collided with one of the many ships circulating in the port of Montreal or have succumbed to a serious infection, according to Mr. Michaud.

In 2012, a beluga also came up to Montreal, causing a surprise. Before that, we have to go back to 1901 for the last whale observed in the metropolis.

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