Best time to see whales in Quebec

May 20, 2024
rorqual commun baleine escoumins

Every year, we are fortunate to have marine mammals visit the St. Lawrence River, where they come to feed during the summer. However, the whales do not stay here all year round, as they must return to the warmer waters of the Caribbean Sea to breed and give birth. Obviously, the journey between their feeding and breeding grounds is long, and does not guarantee that all the whales will arrive in our area at the same time.

Whale watching season on the Haute-Côte-Nord: from May to November

Although the season runs from May to November, it is important to remember that each season is different and the arrival and movements of whales vary from year to year, and from day to day.

However, generally speaking, we can divide the seasons into 4 main periods.

May and June: Gradual arrival

At the start of the season, it is not uncommon for several minke whales to have already arrived in the area. There is also a gradual arrival of large whales, such as humpback whales, fin whales and sometimes even the occasional blue whale. The advantage of this season is this feeling of frenzy and discovery that accompanies this start of the season. The weather is generally mild and there is not much traffic.

July to mid August: Start of high season

More and more whales are arriving in the area. A few humpback whales and fin whales have arrived and settled in the area, and minke whales are becoming more and more common. Although the arrival of the large whales has been made, the weather conditions, more precisely the extreme heat, can complicate things, bringing with them difficult fog conditions. When the weather conditions are favorable, we are treated to wonderful shows.

Mid August to early October: High season

At this time, the majority of whales have arrived in the area, and we reach the peak of the quantity of whales in the St. Lawrence River estuary. Both off the coast of Tadoussac and off the coast of Les Escoumins, we are entitled to advantageous conditions and great shows. The weather conditions are milder, and the fog is becoming rarer.

Early October to early November: Gradual departure

This period can be very surprising. Some years we were treated to large numbers of whales, and surprises until very late in the season. The main challenges this season are the harsh conditions associated with strong autumn winds and the cooling temperature.

However, all experienced observers know that no matter the time of the season, no matter the quantity of whales present, there are always strong and magical moments on the river. The important thing is to be patient and be curious.

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