Weather forecasts Tides Visitor's guide

PROTECT

The Marine Park protects every living organism found in it, from the seabed to the surface of the water. Species at risk like the St. Lawrence population of beluga whales and the blue whale roam its waters. See how the park protects its biodiversity.

THE MARINE ACTIVITIES IN THE SAGUENAY–ST.LAWRENCE MARINE PARK

REGULATIONS

speeds

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Maximum speed of 25 knots within the limits of the Marine Park.

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From May 1 to October 31
the maximum speed in the mouth of the Saguenay River, i.e., the area between buoys S7 and S8 and the ferries, is 15 knots.

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A boat that is less than a half nautical mile from a beluga cannot remain stationary and must navigate at a constant speed of at least 5 knots and no more than 10 knots.

Observation zone

An observation zone of a ½ nautical mile is created around any boat engaged in whale watching.

An observation sector consists of two or more contiguous or overlapping observation zones.

The observation mode is in effect when an approach is made within 400 metres of a whale in order to observe it.

In the zone, the maximum speed is 10 knots in order to protect the whales.

Approach speed (within 400 and 200metres): minimum speed required to manoeuver.

Put the motor in neutral if a whale other than a beluga whale comes within 200 metres of the boat until the whale is 200 metres away or until it dives towards the sea bed.

A boat must not remain in an observation zone or sector for more than one hour.

A boat must wait at least one hour before returning to the same observation zone or sector.

 

Speed and distance conversion chart

5 knots = 9.26 km/h = 5.75 m/h
10 knots = 18.52  km/h = 11.50 m/h
15 knots = 27.78 km/h = 17.26 m/h
25 knots = 46.30 km/h = 28.77 m/h

SAGUENAY-ST. LAWRENCE MARINE PARK LIMITS

carte-dépliant-3-sites-ENThe Marine Park includes the Saguenay Fjord, located downstream from Cap à l’Est, and the northern section of the St. Lawrence Estuary between Gros Cap à l’Aigle upstream to Pointe-Rouge (Les Escoumins) downstream.

The Marine Park covers approximately 1.245 km2 , includes the water column and seabed, and extends to the normal high-tide line

Speed must be measured over the bottom

DISTANCES TO BE RESPECTED

400

metres

For endangered or threatened* marine mammals such as the beluga whale and the blue whale, a distance of at least 400 metres must be maintained between the vessel and the animal.

200

metres

A boat can come within 200 metres of a whale that is not endangered or threatened.

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It is prohibited to get into the path of a whale in such a way that it passes within less than 200 metres of the boat, and less than 400 metres if it is an endangered or threatened marine mammal.

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It is forbidden to use the action of wind, waves or current to approach within less than the specified distances.

1/2 nautical mile = 926 metres

Prohibited activities

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It is prohibited in the park to use personal watercraft (jet skis)or to use a hovercraft.

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It is prohibited to fly over the park at an altitude of less than 609.6 metres (2,000 ft), and to land in or take off from the park in an aircraft unless you are the holder of a special events permit.

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The use of drones for recreational purposes is prohibited above the boundaries of the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park, as in all national parks.

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It is prohibited in the park to practice a nautical traction sport or to offer a commercial service related to migratory bird hunting.

The use of an aircraft for scientific research, education or promotion is licensed. Please refer to the permit for special activities in the Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park.

It is prohibited to kill, injure or disturb a marine mammal.

Disturb means

  • Feed or touch any marine mammal;
  • Go into the water to swim or interact with marine mammals;
  • Under the water, to play the calls or cries of the whales or create any other noise that resembles them;
  • Separate a group of marine mammals or go between an adult and her calf. A calf is a baby whale measuring no more than half the size of an adult.
  • Encircle a whale, or a group of whales, between a boat and the coast or between several boats;
  • Interrupt, modify or disrupt normal social, swimming, breathing diving, resting, feeding, nursing, reproduction behaviour.

Comprehensive preservation zones

Zone for the protection of habitats and sensitive species. Please avoid navigating here.

Area closure at Baie Sainte-Marguerite

From June 21st to September 21st , vessels must not enter the red area closure which follows a line between Cap Nord-Ouest and Cap Sainte-Marguerite. Special authorizations are granted only for kayaks, canoes and recreational fishermen who must travel without stopping along a corridor within 10 metres of the shore in shallow areas.

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Show you care, keep your distance!

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Baie Sainte-Marguerite (or Sainte-Marguerite Bay) is a place where beluga whales give birth. Your presence can attract their attention and reduce the amount of time they spend looking after their young, feeding, and resting. For their sake, this area is protected to ensure a peaceful environment.

I’m heading towards Baie Sainte-Marguerite, what should I do?

Kayak

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Watercraft are prohibited in the bay between Cap Nord-Ouest and Cap Sainte-Marguerite. To travel from one cape to the other, by kayak or canoe, follow the designated corridor along the coast.

Even if you cannot see any belugas, travel, without stopping, within 10 metres of the shoreline and remain in shallow areas.

When in the presence of belugas, continue paddling until you have put at least 400 metres between you and them.

Since distance can be hard to judge, we recommend that you move away until you can no longer see them.

Every action counts to help protect the belugas.

Motor boat

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Watercraft are prohibited in the bay between Cap Nord-Ouest and Sainte-Marguerite Bay.

Even if you cannot see any belugas, choose a heading that keeps a distance between your boat and the bay. We recommend that you maintain a constant speed between 5 and 10 knots (6–12 mph).

When in the presence of belugas, move away to a distance of at least 400 metres.

Maintain a constant speed between 5 and 10 knots (6–12 mph) until you are at least half a nautical mile (926 metres) from the belugas.

Every action counts to help protect the belugas.

Show you care, keep your distance!

Sail boat

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Watercraft are prohibited in the bay between Cap Nord-Ouest and Cap Sainte-Marguerite.

If you are sailing downwind, you can follow these routes. If you are sailing upwind, we recommend that you follow this route.

Even if you cannot see any belugas, we recommend that you maintain a constant speed between 5 and 10 knots (6–12 mph).

When in the presence of belugas, move away to a distance of at least 400 metres.

Maintain a speed between 5 and 10 knots (6–12 mph) until you are at least half a nautical mile (926 metres) from the belugas.

Every action counts to help protect the belugas.

Show you care, keep your distance!

For more details on the Regulations, download the information brochure or visit the Legislation website: http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/regulations/SOR-2002-76/

Please take note that if you are traveling with your boat within the boundaries of the Marine Park, you are responsible for knowing and respecting the Regulations.

SPECIES AT RISK

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Blue whale

The Blue Whale is found in all the oceans of the world. This whale, the world’s largest living animal, is now listed as a species at risk due to pollution, collisions with boats and accidental entanglement in fishing gear. The North Atlantic population that uses the Marine Park counts as little as 250 to 300 individuals.

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St. Lawrence Beluga

The snow-white beluga is the easiest to identify of all whales. Although hunting was banned in 1979, the population is failing to recover: there are only 889 individuals left. As belugas spend all year in the St. Lawrence, they are exposed to pollution and disturbance from recreational boating and marine transportation traffic.

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Fin Whale

The fin Whale is the second largest animal in the world after the Blue Whale. It was heavily hunted in the 20th Century, and the population plummeted. Hunting was banned in 1972, but the fin Whale is still vulnerable to habitat disturbance, collisions and pollution, as are all whales.

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BARROW’S GOLDENEYE

During the fall and winter, nearly one third of the Barrow’s Goldeneye population inhabiting Eastern North America come to spend time in the shallow rocky bays of the St. Lawrence Estuary.

If a catastrophe should occur, such as an oil spill, the gregarious behaviour of these ducks would be disastrous to their survival. Forestry operations also threaten the Barrow’s Goldeneye’s breeding grounds, as they nest in trees.

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Atlantic cod

Over the past 30 years, the Atlantic Cod population has suffered a 90% decline. Fishing, although highly controlled, changes in habitat and life history of the fish as well as predation put pressure on cod stocks. Yet, the high levels of early natural mortality appear to be the main factor in their decline. The data collected by Fisheries and Oceans Canada suggest the presence of several cohorts in the Saguenay River, where limited seasons of recreational fishing open periodically in this part of the park.

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Atlantic Wolffish

This fish is a predator that haunts the ocean depths. Although it is not fished commercially, a decline in the current population has been detected. Incidental catches of Atlantic Wolffish in the trawl nets used in deep-sea fishing are probably hampering its recovery.

THE ST. LAWRENCE BELUGA

Beluga whales are grayish white and the juvenile stage to adulthood. When mature, it measures between 3 and 5 meters. It resides in the year in the St. Lawrence Marine Park has several places where females give birth to their young and care for them.

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The beluga has a varied diet, feeding on fish and invertebrates. Pregnant and nursing females must address significant energy needs. The protection of their habitats and their favorite food is essential for the recovery of this population.

In earlier times, belugas were abundant in the waters of the St. Lawrence. There were between 7,800 and 10,000 at the end of the 19th century. Unfortunately, intensive commercial whaling in the early 20th century very nearly made them disappear. Despite the fact that whaling has been banned since 1979, the beluga population has not been restored. It is estimated that the population is actually in decline. Today, it would appear that only 889 belugas remain in the St. Lawrence.

“ The area of the Marine Park is probably the only place where the beluga whale and the blue whale meet.”

The need to protect the beluga and a large part of its summer habitat prompted the creation of the Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park in 1998. It also led to the implementation of a number of protection, research and awareness-increasing activities. Many organizations, institutions and governments contribute to the efforts in this regard.

SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH

Protecting a given environment starts with understanding that environment. This is why scientific research is an essential tool to protect biodiversity. It allows to measure the effectiveness of protection measures and helps to mitigate the effects of human activities on the marine environment.

« They got out of the bay; twist and turn, “splashing”, spitting water!; they stay closely together as if hunting! »

Excerpts from the field notes of a beluga observer – summer 2015.

KEEPING AN EYE ON THE BELUGA

In collaboration with Parcs Québec, a Parks Canada team is studying the beluga whale in two specific areas of the Marine Park: at the mouth of the Saguenay River and in Baie Sainte-Marguerite, where pods of adult belugas and their calves spend a substantial part of the summer. The knowledge thus acquired and invaluable support of the local population will help us to better protect this magnificent marine mammal.

STUDYING THE LITTLE ONES TO UNDERSTAND THE GIANTS

On board “L’Alliance”, Parks Canada researchers navigate the Marine Park waters to find out what’s on the menu for whales, seals, and birds. Their equipment is specially designed to detect krill and fish below the surface. Understanding the available food of endangered species such as the beluga and the blue whale is invaluable to better protect their habitat. The first results of this study have contributed to the identification of the feeding grounds most used by baleen whales.

SCIENCE AND INDUSTRY:
COLLABORATING TO ESTABLISH EXEMPLARY PRACTICES.

With the information gathered by the research teams, the shipping industry has agreed to collaborate by reducing the speed of ships in the main feeding areas to reduce the risk of collisions with whales

At the initiative of Parks Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada, a working group designed specific measures for the protection of whales. The pilots of merchant and passenger vessels are asked to adapt their sailing in areas frequented by whales. They pay particular attention to the presence of animals, slow down in feeding areas and avoid sailing in the area most frequented by blue whales.

For more information on research projects on marine mammals of the St. Lawrence: http://baleinesendirect.org/en/scientific-exploration/research-projects/

A UNIQUE ENVIRONMENT

The Marine Park is home to an incredible diversity of life, including many endangered species for which this habitat is essential to their survival.

WE NEED TO UNDERSTAND

Scientific research allows to discover secrets of the underwater life, the dynamics specific to the Marine Park’s ecosystems and their inhabitants.

TO INCREASE ITS PROTECTION

Knowledge is the basis for development of programs for protection and recovery of species and ecosystems. It pushes the search for innovative solutions for the development of regulations and voluntary measures.

There are belugas ahead, what should I do? (kayak, estuary)

While paddling on the St. Lawrence or the Saguenay, you may encounter beluga whales. Your presence in their habitat can attract their attention and reduce the amount of time they spend looking after their young, feeding, and resting. Belugas need space and a peaceful environment.

When in the presence of belugas, change direction to go around them while maintaining a distance of at least 400 metres. Stay in your group and keep paddling. Since distance can be hard to judge, we recommend that you move away until you can no longer see them.

There are belugas ahead, what should I do? (motorboat & sailboat estuary)

While boating on the St. Lawrence or the Saguenay, you may encounter beluga whales. Your presence in their habitat can attract their attention and reduce the amount of time they spend looking after their young, feeding, and resting. Belugas need space and a peaceful environment.

When in the presence of belugas, change direction to go around them while maintaining a distance of at least 400 metres. In the Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park, move away while maintaining a constant speed between 5 and 10 knots (6–12 mph). Keep this speed until you are at least half a nautical mile (926 metres) from the belugas.

I’m taken by surprise when belugas suddenly appear around my boat, what should I do? (kayak, Saguenay)

While paddling on the St. Lawrence or the Saguenay, you may encounter beluga whales. Your presence in their habitat can attract their attention and reduce the amount of time they spend looking after their young, feeding, and resting. Belugas need space and a peaceful environment.

If belugas suddenly appear around your boat, do not stop. Choose a heading that will take you at least 400 metres from the belugas. Stay in your group and keep paddling. Since distance can be hard to judge, we recommend that you move away until you can no longer see them.

I’m taken by surprise when belugas appear around me, what should I do? (sailboat, Saguenay)

While sailing on the St. Lawrence or the Saguenay, you may encounter beluga whales. Your presence in their habitat can attract their attention and reduce the amount of time they spend looking after their young, feeding, and resting. Belugas need space and a peaceful environment.

Whether you’re in a sailboat or motorboat, choose a heading that will take you at least 400 metres from the belugas. In the Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park, gradually adjust your speed to between 5 and 10 knots (6–12 mph). Keep a constant speed until you are at least half a nautical mile (926 metres) from the belugas.

There’s a blue whale ahead, what should I do? (motorboat)

While boating on the St. Lawrence River, you may encounter blue whales. In order to find food, they take long dives and hunt day and night for several weeks. Your presence in their habitat can disrupt their diving rhythm and reduce their feeding and resting time.
When in the presence of a blue whale, change direction to go around it while maintaining a distance of at least 400 metres. Be on the lookout, as other whales could surface nearby.