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The 13 species of whales found in the St. Lawrence

There are about 80 species of whales in the world. Of these, 12 migrate to the St. Lawrence every year while 1 lives there year-round. The fact that so many species are found in such a relatively small ecosystem makes the St. Lawrence one of the best whale-watching sites in the world.
Toothed whales – 8 species (70 species worldwide)

1- Harbour porpoise – 1.5 to 2 m, 45 to 50 kg

The smallest of the St. Lawrence cetaceans and one of the smallest in the world, the harbour porpoise is hard to spot. However, there are over 20,000 in the St. Lawrence.


2- Atlantic white-sided dolphin – 2 to 2.7 m, 180 to 230 kg

These dolphins swim in pods of hundreds of individuals and love to play in the wake of passing boats. They are found in great numbers in the gulf and occasionally visit the estuary.


3- White-beaked dolphin – 2.5 to 3 m, 135 to 275 kg

Like the Atlantic white-sided dolphin, white-beaked dolphins swim in large pods and like to play in the wake of passing boats. They also visit the gulf regularly but are generally found further north.


4- Beluga whale – 3 to 4.5 m, 0.7 to 1.5 tonnes

Belugas have the widest vocal range among cetaceans. The only whales to live year round in the St. Lawrence, they are easily identifiable by their white skin.


5- Long-finned pilot whale – 4 to 5 m, 2 to 3.5 tonnes

These large dolphins form family units of several dozen individuals. They regularly visit the gulf, but are rarely found in the estuary.


6- Killer whale – 6 to 7 m, 3 to 7 tonnes

The largest of the dolphins, the killer whale is rarely seen in the St. Lawrence. However, since 1984, a pod of three individuals has been regularly sighted in the gulf, off Mingan.


7- Northern bottlenose whale – 6 to 10 m, 3 to 7 tonnes

A small population of northern bottlenose whales lives in the waters off Nova Scotia. To date, the only individuals spotted in the St. Lawrence have been live stranded whales.


8- Sperm whale – 11 to 15 m, 15 to 40 tonnes

Immortalized in Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, sperm whales have been sighted regularly in the St. Lawrence Estuary since 1991.
Baleen whales – 5 species (11 species worldwide)

1- Minke whale – 6 to 9 metres, 6 to 8 tonnes

The smallest of the baleen whales, minkes display their pink undersides as they hunt near the shore.


2- Humpback whale – 11 to 13 metres, 25 to 30 tonnes

The best known of the large cetaceans, humpbacks show their tail with every dive.


3- North Atlantic right whale – 10 to 15 m, 30 to 60 tonnes

The North Atlantic right whale is the quintessential whale, just as you imagine it: round and chubby! Once heavily hunted, some 300 survivors are left in the North Atlantic.


4- Fin whale – 18 to 21 metres, 40 to 50 tonnes

A few dozen fin whales, the world’s second largest animals, can be spotted in the St. Lawrence Estuary every summer.


5- Blue whale – 21 to 26 metres, 80 to 210 tonnes

Only a few hundred blue whales—the largest animals on the planet—still exist. The St. Lawrence is one of the rare places in the world where they can be observed near the shore.
Whale Watching Packages
Sea Kayaking Excursion and Whale-Watching Cruise

Sea Kayaking Excursion and Whale-Watching Cruise

Auberge Internationale Forillon

Starting from $160.00
per person based on single occupancy, taxes, park entrance fees and gratuities not included Valid from June 8, 2014 to October 3, 2014
Whales & Islands Package

Whales & Islands Package

Château Fraser Hotel

Starting from $115.00
per person per night based on double occupancy, taxes and gratuities not included Valid from June 15, 2014 to September 10, 2014
See all Whale Watching Packages
Testimonials about Whale Watching
  • August 2011
    Percé
    "I went there in May, which it was still cold, but after the long drive when it got there it was all worth it, a truly unforgetable experience :) Everybody should go at least once in their life." Read more »
  • A Small Bay among Giants
    "The best thing about Tadoussac, however, is this feeling of well-being that comes over you when you are here. In these surroundings, between the water, the mountains and the village, the air you breathe is pure and you really feel as though you are living in the present moment." Read more »
Read all testimonials
Highlights
  • Fjord-du-Saguenay National Park

    Observe St. Lawrence belugas in Sainte-Marguerite Bay all summer long. Walk to the lookout to see if you can spot the whales!
  • Île-Bonaventure-et-du-Rocher-Percé National Park

    Take in the marine scenery from another angle while you enjoy the beauty of the park during a sea excursion: see both sides of Percé Rock as well as the bird colony on Bonaventure Island. If you are lucky, you might even spot the blow of a whale.
  • Cap-de-Bon-Désir Interpretation and Observation Centre

    The St. Lawrence is so shallow off Cap de Bon-Désir that whales come and feed close by, making this one of the best coastal sites to observe whales. From June to October, come and admire many whale species, including belugas.
See all whale watching companies (19) and plan my trip

Sea kayaking

Kayak around Kamouraska’s islands and islets while enjoying a unique view of the region’s charming villages from the coastline.
Photo: Marc Loiselle
The Manicouagan region is renowned for sea kayaking as well as for marine mammal observation. Why not combine both activities?
Photo: Marc Loiselle / Tourisme Manicouagan
Size yourself up against the gigantic Percé Rock, and keep your eyes peeled for a few marine mammals!
Photo: Sébastien Larose / Tourisme Gaspésie
Sculpted by the wind and the sea, the monoliths of the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve of Canada offer kayakers incomparable scenic vistas.
Photo: Éric Marchand / L’île imagin’air
Tadoussac Bay is a member of the Most Beautiful Bays in the World Club, and its village is recognized by the Association of the Most Beautiful Villages of Québec.
Photo: Marc Loiselle / Tourisme Manicouagan
Discover the many grottos of the Îles de la Madeleine in the company of an experienced sea kayak guide.
Photo: Éric Marchand / L’île imagin’air
Kayak along the cliffs of Forillon National Park of Canada and discover the vastness of its coastal landscapes. You might even encounter some seals and a few whales on your journey!
Photo: Michel Julien / Tourisme Gaspésie
Observe the region’s fauna up close with an excursion in the waters of Bic National Park. The park is home to about 200 seals and a multitude of bird species.
Photo: Michel Laverdière
Kayak along the steep cliffs of the Saguenay Fjord in the company of an expert who will let you in on the site’s secrets. Several tour companies offer guided excursions of variable duration.
Photo: Marc Loiselle
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Whale Watching Photos
Click on photo to enlarge
  • Whale watching from a Zodiac off Cap-Gaspé, Forillon National Park of Canada
  • Kayaker and minke whale off Île Verte
  • Minke whale with the Île Verte Lighthouse in the background
  • Whale watching from the shore
See all whale watching photos
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