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The 13 species of whales found in the St. Lawrence

About 80 species of whales live in the world’s seas. Of these, 12 migrate to the St. Lawrence every year while one 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 places to observe whales in the world. Many companies offer whale-watching excursions as of May; the whale-watching season extends into October.

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
Whale-Watching Cruise Package

Whale-Watching Cruise Package

Hôtel Universel / Centre de congrès – Rivière-du-Loup

Starting from $137.93
per person based on double occupancy, taxes not included Valid from June 10, 2014 to September 11, 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 »
  • Rivière-du-Loup: A Little Known Whale-Watching Area
    "When people think of places to go whale watching, they usually think of Tadoussac and not the south shore of the St. Lawrence, yet marine mammals are actually more numerous on this side!" Read more »
Read all testimonials
Highlights
  • 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.
  • Marine Environment Discovery Centre

    The MEDC is one of the best coastal sites to observe whales and is part of a network of land-based whale-watching sites in Côte-Nord. With any luck, you will hear the blows of the whales as they surface and can observe them through our telescopes.
  • 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

Sept-Îles: A City Worth a Visit!

Presented by: Tourisme Sept-Îles
Savour the bounty of the sea!
Photo: Tourisme Sept-Îles
Exceptional wildlife awaits you in the archipelago: razorbills, common murres, whales and seals.
Photo: Mario Tremblay
You never know what you’ll see on a kayaking trip!
Photo: Catherine Allard
Guides on Grande Basque Island are happy to introduce visitors to local geology, marine biology, ornithology and mycology.
Photo: Tourisme Sept-Îles
Sea and sand as far as the eye can see! These miles of white sand are perfect for strolling, picnicking or building sand castles.
Photo: Tourisme Sept-Îles
Admire Sept-Îles Bay during a walk on the Vieux-Quai (Old Wharf).
Photo: Tourisme Sept-Îles
Breathtaking sunsets await you here!
Photo: Évelyne Côté
Our trails beckon…
Photo: Jean-François Ross
The Port of Sept-Îles is one of the oldest ports in Canada.
Photo: P. Paquet
Enjoying the sun and sea air...
Photo: Tourisme Sept-Îles
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Whale Watching Photos
Click on photo to enlarge
  • Kayaker and minke whale off Île Verte
  • Whale watching by kayak
  • Blow of Blue Whales in Gaspésie
  • Tail of a Humpback Whale, seen while going out with scientists from Mingan Island Cetacean Study (Côte-Nord - Duplessis)
See all whale watching photos
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