(TMU) – For the first time ever, a humpback whale was spotted in Montreal after making its way up the St Lawrence River in Canada. Believed to have traveled from Tadoussac, a village in Quebec, located at the convergence of the Saguenay and St Lawrence rivers where it would have lived in salt water.
La baleine à bosse a effectué une série de sauts spectaculaires pendant plus d’une heure, près du quai de l’horloge. Magnifique photo de mon collègue Jacques Nadeau. @LeDevoir pic.twitter.com/0cRZlJj4nU
— Alexandre Shields (@AShields_Devoir) May 30, 2020
Spotted swimming upstream under the Québec Bridge last week, the whale reached the Jacques Cartier Bridge in Montreal.
Quebec Marine Mammal Emergency Network coordinator, Robert Michaud, defined the situation as ‘’unusual’’, and added: ‘‘It’s the first time that we see a humpback past the Quebec area’’, CBC reported.
Michaud surmised that the whale may have been confused or hungry and ended up in Montreal following fish, he commented:
‘’We don’t know why this animal made this journey. There are several hypotheses. Humans, whales and land mammals, sometimes they are vagrants that go in unusual places.
These journeys are usually a series of mistakes. But what is sure is that this animal doesn’t belong to this habitat.’’
According to Michaud, whales can survive in fresh water for a while, although the city’s water and food won’t be as healthy in Quebec as in its natural habitat. Furthermore, the higher levels of ‘marine traffic’ could stress or injure the whale.
A humpback whale is currently hanging out directly under the Jacques-Cartier bridge.
A sight I never expected to see here in Montreal. pic.twitter.com/6CXGFWfjHm
— Sarah Leavitt (@sarahleavittcbc) May 30, 2020
Local residents were gathering near the river all day in the hope of seeing the humpback – and much to their delight – it surfaced every few minutes, releasing a blow and lifting its tail flukes out of the water.
Humpbacks are usually not aggressive, but they could cause damage if stressed and Michaud advised people trying to get a closer look to keep at least a 200 meter distance to avoid adding stress to the animal. Anyone getting within 100 meters of the whale with boats or other watercraft could face a fine.
According to a report in the Montreal Gazette, Marie-Eve Muller, who also works for the Quebec Marine Mammal Emergency Response Network, said the whale’s adventure may have come to an end in Montreal.
‘’The current is quite strong, it’s trying to go up but it’s having a hard time fighting the current.
That’s a WHOLE A*S WHALE in the Old Port of Montreal. What is 2020 pic.twitter.com/e3pL0QVOKE
— em (@emiliebourque1) May 30, 2020
‘’It’s swimming freely so that’s good, it means it can move around as it needs. It’s hard to predict if it has hit the end of the road and will turn around and hopefully go back to her other humpback whale friends in Tadoussac or Gaspé,’’ Muller commented.
Members of the Quebec Marine Mammal Emergency Network are on the water monitoring the whale’s movements alongside agents from Fisheries and Oceans Canada, who have been following the marine animal. The humpback, estimated to be between one and two years old, was seen on Tuesday entertaining its enthralled audience along the riverbank, breaching and playing off the Old Port.
Marine experts are hopeful it will change course and head for home soon.