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The Whale Road

The Whale Route

The 138 - The Whale Route of the North Shore

Who says Côte-Nord, says whale. These large mammals are present every year along the north coast of the St. Lawrence River. The 138 road name reffer to the 13 species of whale that can be found during the summer along the coast. These 13 species include the largest mammal on the planet: the great blue whale.

There are 13 species of whales in the St. Lawrence that can be observed from a cruise ship, sea kayak or from the shore. Large blue whales feed on the plankton and small fish that congregate in the deep, nutrient-rich waters of the Laurentian channel: they are brought in by the tides and trapped  by the channel's distinctive underwater topography. This turns the area into a feeding ground for these giants of the see, and makes it easy to spot them here.

Visit the North Shore, it is nature, beyond measure!

Follow the blue signs with a white whale and discover the secrets of the Whale Route! These colourful road signs are perfect for exploring natural sites and attractions that are often overlooked by travellers in a hurry. Some municipalities have little-known access points to the coastline, impressive observation sites and interpretation infrastructure. These are all reasons to think outside the box and increase your chances of seeing the marine mammals that frequent the St. Lawrence.

 

Follow the Whale Route on more than 840 kms from Tadoussac to Kégaska!

Whale-watching cruises

Many businesses offer boat and zodiac excursions to observe marine mammals.

 

Along the Côte-Nord, the main cruise destinations are Tadoussac, Les Escoumins, Les Bergeronnes, Baie-Comeau, Sept-Îles, Havre-Saint-Pierre, Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan, etc.

Consult the list of cruise companies

Sagunay-St.Lawrence Marine Park

Protected marine area of exceptional biodiversity, the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park is one of the best places in the world for whale watching.

Explore its natural and cultural riches through the Discovery Network, featuring a wide variety of experiences related to the marine environment and the region's maritime history. Things to do: marine mammal and bird watching, sea excursions, diving activities, interpretation centres and museums, hiking, picnics and sunsets with a spectacular view of the fjord or the river.

Discover the Marine Park

13 St. Lawrence marine mammal species

ST. LAWRENCE BELUGA

This declining population is the only year-round resident of the St. Lawrence River. The beluga is known for its social skills and vocalizations. Its nickname is the “canary of the sea”.

  • Presence : frequent     Endangered species

MINKE WHALE

Solitary, it is often seen near the shore. It is one of the most dynamic whales and a formidable hunter. You might see it even jump out of the water.  

  • Presence : frequent

Le saviez-vous? Le plus grand mammifère au monde est le rorqual bleu.

C'est aussi le plus gros animal ayant existé sur notre planète! Par sa puissance et son élégance majestueuse, son observation est toujours un moment exceptionnel. Mais aussi parce qu'il est rare et fragile. Dans l'Atlantique Nord, la population de rorquals bleus a été décimée par une chasse effrénée qui a pris fin en 1955. Depuis 2002, cette espèce est reconnue en voie de disparition au Canada. Pour les chercheurs, elle recèle bien des mystères, son étude rendue encore plus difficile parce que ces rorquals sont de grands voyageurs. Source : Baleines en direct - Découvrez les baleines.

 

FIN WHALE

You will hear its breath before you see it. Fast and long, it surfaces, revealing its dark back. Rather solitary, it joins others for eating.

  • Presence : frequent
  • Species of special concern

HARBOUR PORPOISE

As the smallest cetacean in the St. Lawrence River, it is noticeable given it often swims in small groups. Its breath can be heard in calm weather.

  • Presence : frequent

HUMPBACK WHALE

Graceful, it reveals its tail during dives. It is also known for its acrobatic jumps. Once endangered, today's population is growing. 

  • Presence : frequent

BLEU WHALE

The blue whale is the largest animal on the planet, and one of the most widely travelled. Only about a dozen are found at the marine park.

  • Presence : occasional
  • Endangered species

ATLANTIC WHITE-SIDED DOLPHIN

They live in pods. Dynamic and exuberant, we see them jumping, in turn, in the wake of boats.

  • Presence : rare

WHITE-BEAKED DOLPHIN

They are fast, and you will see their grey and white sides as they leap out of the water in alternating directions. They live in pods.

  • Presence : rare

RIGHT WHALE

This slow-moving species has a powerful “V” shaped breath. Long hunted, the 400 survivors must now deal with the risks of collisions and entanglements.

  • Presence : rare       Endangered species

SPERM WHALE

The “Moby Dick” of the oceans. Deep sea diver, it hunts fish and squid. After taking a deep breath at the surface, it sometimes spends two hours underwater before returning for another breath.

  • Presence : rare

LONG-FINNED PILOT WHALE

The few observers who have crossed its path have pointed out its imposing fin on its back. It lives in pods of 10, 20, and even 100.

  • Presence : rare

KILLER WHALE

You may know it as the “orca.” A strategic hunter and a group hunter, it adapts its manoeuvres to the prey it is pursuing: marine mammals, fish, birds and squid.

  • Presence : rare
  • Species of special concern

NORTHERN BOTTLENOSE WHALE

Never heard of it? This large diver is rare—fewer than 200 individuals live off Nova Scotia—and it prefers deep water up to 1,500 m.

  • Presence : rare
  • Endangered species

Crédit images : C. Soucy / ©Parcs Canada

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