The Québec maritime Blog

Wildlife in the Spotlight in Our National Parks
  • Parc national du Lac-Témiscouata
    Marc Loiselle

Wildlife in the Spotlight in Our National Parks

From birdlife along our rugged coastlines to massive mammals inhabiting our dense forests, you are very likely to see some of the best ambassadors of the maritime regions of Québec during your visit. Here is some information about specific species you might see, sometimes with a bit of luck, in our 10 national parks.  

Parc national du Bic

With so many coves, cliffs and islands, the park is the perfect habitat for many seabird species, including the common eider. The largest duck in the northern hemisphere, it is known for the high quality of its down, which is used to make duvets (also known as eiderdowns). Pay attention when you are walking on the shoreline and look at the open sea, you might catch a glimpse of a flock of eiders flying around in the air or just above the water, or of a single individual swimming on the surface, ready to dive in to catch a fish. Watch them with a warden-naturalist who will tell you all the eider’s secrets.

Learn more about Parc national du Bic.

Parc national du Lac-Témiscouata

With several lakes, the park offers the perfect environment for the bald eagle, the largest bird of prey in Canada. Adult individuals are easy to identify with their brown plumage, their white head and their yellow hooked beak. You might spot one gliding high up in the sky, spreading out its long and wide wings spanning up to 2 metres, or scanning the horizon perched at the top the highest trees. During your breaks on hiking trails or while relaxing at your wilderness campsite at twilight, listen carefully; you might hear its squeaky scream.   

Learn more about Parc national du Lac-Témiscouata.

Parc national de la Gaspésie

Originally found in all the boreal forest in North America, the caribou is still present in Parc national de la Gaspésie. It is actually the last population south of the St. Lawrence River. Individuals are concentrated in the mature boreal forest at higher elevation and in the alpine tundra on the park’s highest summits, including Mt. Jacques-Cartier, Mt. Albert and Mt. Richardson. Don’t forget your binoculars!  

Learn more about Parc national de la Gaspésie.

Forillon National Park

One of the many mammals found in the park, the black bear strikes most people’s imagination. Quiet and very smart, it may seem heavy and clumsy because of its massive appearance, but it is surprisingly fast. Its diet is made of berries, insects, fish and animal carcasses. Even if it tries to avoid contact with humans, it can be attracted by our food when it is of easy access. When you are camping, simply storing your food in your vehicle will reduce the risk of seeing an undesirable visitor on your campsite.  

Learn more about Forillon National Park.

Parc national de l'Île-Bonaventure-et-du-Rocher-Percé

One of the most important migratory bird sanctuary in North America, Bonaventure Island is home to the most accessible northern gannet colony in the world during the summer months. Come watch these beautiful birds from the sea or right on the island where warden-naturalists can answer all your questions. You will likely see several individuals engage in courtship where male and female rub their beak together, stretching their neck and spreading their wings. A spectacular site in many respects!

Learn more about Parc national de l'Île-Bonaventure-et-du-Rocher-Percé.

Parc national de Miguasha 

Have you ever seen an Elpistostege watsoni? It is very unlikely if you have never been to Parc national de Miguasha, a site that is world renowned for the excellent preservation of its fossils. Elpistostege watsoni is actually a fish fossil and the park can pride itself on having the only complete specimen on the planet. It is the subject of scientific studies to better understand the evolution of tetrapods, which are vertebrates with legs, as well as the aquatic origins of man. Don’t miss the exhibit dedicated to it.

Learn more about Parc national de Miguasha.

Parc national du Fjord-du-Saguenay

The breathtaking Saguenay Fjord is home to a population of belugas, likely the southernmost in the world. It is estimated that some 50 individuals visit the area, enjoying the abundant food source and the higher water temperature. Groups of this easy-to-spot marine mammal (because of its distinctive white colour) show up on an almost daily basis in Sainte-Marguerite Bay. A lookout has been set up to provide visitors with a more comfortable whale-watching experience. Don’t miss it!  

Learn more about Parc national du Fjord-du-Saguenay.

Parc national d'Anticosti

In the enchanting landscape of Anticosti Island, white-tailed deer are ubiquitous. Some 220 deer were introduced to the island in the late 19th century, and there are now over 160,000 of them on the island! Its exponential multiplication is mostly due to the absence of predators. It is almost guaranteed that you will see some when you visit the island. However, the high density of this relentless grazer has major impacts on the environment, so much so that enclosed spaces, called “exclosures,” where the deer presence is controlled, have been set up to help restore flora.  

Learn more about Parc national d'Anticosti.

Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve

Unusual, spectacular, out-of-this-world, here are some words commonly used to describe the Mingan Archipelago. But they also apply to one of their most popular ambassadors: the Atlantic puffin, which comes to the archipelago during its breeding period. A member of the penguin family, but hardly any bigger than a pigeon, it is a favourite with birdwatchers because of its multicoloured beak, the thin red circle around its eyes and its clumsy walk, which give it a comical and endearing look.

Learn more about Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve.

Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park

Covering an area of nearly 1250 km2 including a vast section of the Saguenay Fjord and St. Lawrence River, the park is one of the best locations in the world to watch whales. Porpoises, fin whales, minke whales, belugas and even blue whales visit these waters rich in krill, their main source of food. It is possible, of course, to watch these impressive cetaceans on sea excursions, but also right off the shore at several locations, including at the interpretation centres where you will find detailed information about the various species found in the area.  

Learn more about the Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park.

Bonus!

Auberge de montagne des Chic-Chocs, Réserve faunique de Matane

A classic symbol of the Canadian woods, moose is plentiful in Gaspésie, especially in the Réserve faunique de Matane. This solitary and quiet animal is of a remarkable discretion considering its impressively large size. It is mostly active at dawn and dusk. You can increase your odds of watching it at those times of the day, ideally near shallow lakes, marshes and mudflats.

Learn more about the Auberge de montagne des Chic-Chocs.

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Nature has so many surprises in store for you in the national parks in the maritime regions of Québec. Plan your stay today to discover them all!

Author Jean-Pascal Côté

A certified translator and avid outdoorsman, Jean-Pascal Côté works as a freelance writer and translator in Bas-Saint-Laurent, the region where he was born. He regularly escapes his daily life by going road biking, cycle touring or cyclocross racing, skiing in the mountains of Bas-Saint-Laurent or Western Canada, or sea kayaking on the St. Lawrence River. He is constantly dreaming up new travel plans. He also blogs (on an admittedly irregular basis) about his cycle touring adventures.

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