At this time of year, the humpback whale should be found among his own people, at Tadoussac. The biologist Robert Michaud tries to understand what brought him to the port of Montreal, 450 miles of his habitat as usual.
“We do not know why he is doing this journey completely crazy!”, he admits from the outset.
In normal times, the whale should spend the summer in the estuary of the St. Lawrence river, with its saline water and its tides, before migrating to the Caribbean to spend the winter.
But here that it has elected domicile in the port of Montreal for nearly a week, much to the delight of Montrealers who come to admire it from the shore.
As early as 25 may, he was spotted by a volunteer at Ste-Irénée, Charlevoix, probably feeding on capelin. On the 26th, it was already made in Quebec, 100 km from here.
Mr. Michaud, a member of the Group for research and education on marine mammals (GREMM), suspects that the fish would have been able to attract the young whale to Montreal.
“Just before his arrival, there were very large movements of american shad, a small fish of which he could feed,” he explains.
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The calf, at the age of two years, would have been able to follow a shoal of fish to be found in front of the metropolis.
In the world, the case of cetaceans at a young age who go astray are relatively common. “It might correspond to the hypothesis that it is young and inexperienced, who make mistakes and explore.”
The biologist warned that the situation could become problematic in the medium term for the humpback whale if it does not return in salt water. “It could end badly. It is still a place strange and not quite appropriate for him.”
The animal has already started to develop skin problems. Dehydration looms also, but his return to salt water might fix the problem.
“Our big question is : is it feed?”, is concerned that Mr. Michaud.
The researcher tends to think that yes, because the humpback whale is often held against the current, a strategy for feeding.
He says that images are sent regularly to Stéphane Lair, the veterinarian who follows the animal with the research group.
“For the moment, we do not see any sign of emaciation of the animal, which leaves us hope that when the animal is going to decide, it will be able to return in his natural environment. This is what you want. “
The real concern of the researchers of the GREMM is a collision between the animal and a pleasure boat. “The most important thing is to leave the largest possible space whales. If people are walking on the water, it is very important to keep a distance of at least 200 meters”, he recalls.
In form, in spite of everything
“The whale has periods of high activity, which suggests that it is in good condition,” says the biologist.
Actually, in the last days, the whale gave quite a show to the curious who came to watch. Jumps out of the water, lashes, strokes of the pectoral…
“These behaviors are normal for the humpback whales. It is the animals that they are sometimes called, exuberant and expressive. This is for a set of functions: communicate, gather food, get rid of parasites…”, he explains.
While he was mainly active in the evening, the whale has started to make jumps rather late in the afternoon, note-t-on.