A second minke whale was observed on Wednesday in the St. Lawrence River near Montreal, a completely unprecedented situation in recent history.
“It could be the same individual as the one observed around Trois-Rivières on Monday, May 9, and at Varennes on Wednesday morning,” said the Group for Research and Education on Marine Mammals (GREMM). Wednesday, late afternoon.
The presence of the animal had been reported earlier today, around 12:30 p.m., at buoy 187, near the 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 to be found in Montreal waters at the same time, a completely unprecedented situation. His colleague was observed at 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.
Volunteers from the Quebec Marine Mammal Emergency Response Network (RQUMM) resumed their observation shift at 8:00 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 Trois-Disques sculpture.
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 in place, against the current, his behavior is normal, his ventilation is regular and the condition of his skin is good”, specifies the Group for Research and Education on Marine Mammals (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,” the Marine Mammal Research and Education Group also states on its website. . The animal must choose to turn back on its own. »
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 Group for Research and Education on Marine Mammals (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 a pandemic. However, the whale was found stranded near Varennes some 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 due to a serious infection, according to Mr. Michaud.
In 2012, a beluga also came up to Montreal, causing a surprise. The last whale to be observed in the metropolis dates back to 1901.