Paddle the black waters of the fjord, ride along the upper estuary islands and observe the breath of the great whales in the Estuary. Discover the Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park and travel through three magnificent and captivating ecosystems.
We float on the marine park along with the winds, tides and currents. Dug during the last ice age, the Saguenay Fjord is lined with cliffs reaching 300 meters. The St. Lawrence estuary offers a challenge to kayakers that will discover a landscape dotted with islands and inhabited by an impressive wildlife.
In summer, the marine park is an exceptional hunting ground. The whales, seals, and birds you will see during your sea outing, for the most part, travelled thousands of kilometres to come feed here. These wild animals spend a large part of their time feeding and resting.
Residents of the marine park, beluga whales are present throughout the year in the St. Lawrence, and in the Fjord during the summer. These whales give birth to their young in the summer particularly in July and August; so this is a critical time for the survival of calves and their mothers who need peace and quiet to raise and feed them and rest. Although the temptation is strong, do not approach them. This respectful attitude is important, whether you navigate by kayak or with any boat.
You are privileged to be able to watch them in their habitat and witness their natural behaviour. Pay close attention to comprehensive preservation zones. They aim at ensuring the protection of marine ecosystems, rare or sensitive habitats and species as well as important cultural resources. These areas are shown in the guide’s map.
In winter 1878, a Québec City merchant by the name of Charles-Napoléon Robitaille fell through ice covering the Saguenay River under the weight of his horse and carriage. Imploring the mercy of Virgin Mary, he managed to lift himself out of the water. In honour of She who saved him, he had a sculpture by Louis Jobin erected high atop Cap Trinité. Standing 180 metres above the water line, the Statue of Notre-Dame-du- Saguenay has looked out over the fjord since 1881.
Baie Sainte-Marguerite is a unique habitat, essential for the survival of the beluga whale population. It is often frequented by herds of females with their young.
An avoidance zone has been established at the entrance of the bay: it is to be avoided from June 15 to September 30 each year.
To help the protection of this endangered species, boaters, kayakers and captains are asked not to enter the bay.
It is easy to imagine that noise can disturb the whales. After all, they use sound to navigate the waters, hunt and socialize. But noise is not the only factor that can affect whales: proximity to humans and boats too. Even a small boat as silent as a kayak or a sail boat can cause disturbance.
The St. Lawrence River and the mouth of the Saguenay Fjord are used by tens of thousands of boats each summer. Busy waterway, and favored boating destination, it is also here that the food of whales concentrates during the summer. They spend their days eating and resting in order to replenish their energy reserves, greatly needed to survive the winter and long migrations.
The presence of a boat near a whale can force the animal to change its natural behavior (rate and duration of dives, respiratory rate and communications). This is called disturbance: the animal changes its behavior due to human presence. If it is repetitive, disturbance can hinder the whale’s chances of survival and reproduction. The Marine Activities in the Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park Regulations have been developed to minimize the risk of disruption. Complying with the regulations helps to protect the whales.
Are you planning a seagoing activity without a certified guide? Before you set out, find out about the directives you need to follow and the equipment you need to bring to make sure your outing is safe and enjoyable. Consult the www.canot-kayak.qc.ca website.
Weather conditions change rapidly and strong marine currents could make your outing hazardous. For your safety, stay close to the shoreline so as to always keep it in sight,
particularly under fog conditions. On account of marine traffic, avoid making “shore-to-shore” crossings.
The sheer cliffs of the Saguenay fjord are an ideal nesting ground for the peregrine falcon. As the home of no less than 20% of all breeding pairs inventoried in Quebec, these cliffs are protected by the Parc national du Fjord-du-Saguenay.
You may encounter one of the teams dedicated to research, awareness or monitoring who ply the marine park on a Parks Canada or a Parcs Québec boat.