Present throughout the marine park, it is often observed alone and close to land. A skilled hunter, it performs several manoeuvres to catch its prey and sometimes jumps vigorously out of the water.
6 to 10 m.
6 to 10 tons
This is the second largest whale in the world! Its breath rises several metres above the water when it surfaces. Swift, it is called the “greyhound of the seas.” During the summer, between 20 and 80 individuals are observed in the marine park, some of which have been known to researchers for a long time. The Northwest Atlantic population has a status of special concern.
18 to 21 m.
40 to 50 tons
Famous for its jumps out of the water, its agility is due to its long pectoral fins. The colouring of the underside of its tail, visible when it dives, allows researchers to differentiate it from others. Designated “threatened” in the 1980s, the North Atlantic population has since recovered thanks to extensive conservation efforts.
11 to 16 m.
25 to 35 tons
It is the largest animal that has ever lived on the planet! It is an endangered giant. A dozen of them occasionally visit the marine park in search of their favourite prey: krill, a small crustacean measuring a few centimetres. It eats about one to four tons of food per day.
21 to 30 m.
80 to 135 tons
The beluga is the St. Lawrence’s only year-round resident whale. There are only 900 individual animals left, isolated from those living in the Arctic. This population is endangered. One of the reasons the marine park was created was to protect it. It is social and lives in groups. Young ones are dark and become white as they get older. The crest on its back acts as an “icebreaker.” The beluga is known for its social skills and vocalizations. Its nickname is the “canary of the sea.”
3 to 5 m.
0,7 to 2 tons
The smallest whale in the St. Lawrence travels in small groups. It swims quickly and without splashing, giving the impression that it is rolling on the surface of the water. Its breath can be heard in calm weather.
1,5 to 2 m.
45 to 65 kg
The grey seal, the largest seal in the St. Lawrence, has a long, rounded muzzle. It is seen in the Lower Estuary primarily in the summer. Grey seals are abundant in both the Gulf and the Estuary and are not at risk.
2 to 2,4 m.
225 to 400 kg
The only resident species of seal, the harbour seal can be seen throughout the marine park. The profile of its head resembles that of a dog, particularly on account of its tapering muzzle. The population is not at risk.
1,5 to 1,9 m.
Traditionnally, a winter visitor, it is increasingly observed in the summer as well. They form large groups that literally make the surface boil as they swim along. They have a black head and grey pelt with a large black band. Pups are white as snow and nicknamed “blanchons”.
1,6 to 1,9 m.
85 to 180 kg
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.