This guide is your tool

By following the guidelines and good practices proposed in this guide, you are helping to make sure that this marine protected area remains a rich exceptional place for whales, seals, sea birds, and visitors alike for years to come.

If you require advice or support to implement the principles contained in this guide, feel free to reach out to us.

For many people, advertising and images that circulate on social and traditional media are their first contact with the Marine Park.

You can support efforts for the protection of whales and their habitat by creating promotional materials that:

  • respond to growing expectations of sustainable tourism that respects nature and the environment;
  • increase visitor satisfaction by bridging the gap between dream and reality;
  • foster the perception of a privileged experience in the heart of the Marine Park;
  • lower the risk of pressure on captains, tour guides and whales.
About the Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park

Fun facts and statistics about the Marine Park:

  • 1998: creation of the Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park co-manged by Quebec and Canada;
  • 1 245 km²: total area of the Marine Park which is 2.5 time the island of Montreal;
  • 8 000 years: human presence in the region;
  • 2 200: animal and plant species observed in the Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park;
  • 1 000 000: number of visits to the Marine Park per year (at sea and on the coast);
  • between 1530 and 2200 : belugas belonging to the St. Lawrence population.
Guidelines for Ecologically Responsible Marketing

Eco-responsible promotion of the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park is based on three main principles:

Respectful by reflecting the measures in place to reduce wildlife disturbance.

Authentic by creating a sense of privilege to be visiting a unique and distinctive Marine Park.

Realistic by bridging dream and reality, thus increasing visitor satisfaction.

To find out more and discover how to be true to these principles, click on each of them below.

Respectful and responsible promotion of a natural environment also respects the measures in place to protect it..

Activities in the Marine Park must be respectful of whales and their habitat. A permit system, speed limits and approach distances are some of the ways this environment is protected under the Marine Activities in the Saguenay–St-Lawrence Marine Park Regulations. By being aware and respectful of the Regulations in your promotional material, you contribute to greater protection and the long-term sustainability of the park and the activities that take place there, including tourism.

Do not hesitate to display the Eco-Whale Alliance logo if the company for which you are producing promotional material is a member!

Endangered Species

Caution! Fragile!

The beluga whale and the blue whale are endangered species that may not be sought out during offshore excursions. A minimum distance of 400 m must be maintained, no matter the type of vessel. Furthermore, a motorboat or a sailboat may not remain stationary less than a ½ nautical mile (926 m) from a beluga whale.

The Tone of the Text and the Presentation

The description of a potential experience can be perceived as a promise, thereby creating unrealistic expectations. Exercise caution in your choice of words when referring to beluga whales or blue whales.

Une image vaut mille mots

Les images ont beaucoup d’impact sur votre auditoire, choisissez-les judicieusement. Bien qu’elle puisse évoquer le rêve, une photo de béluga ou de baleine bleue peut également suggérer que l’activité va cibler cette espèce.

To be emphasised:
“in beluga-whale country”
“in the home of the beluga whale”
“in beluga-whale habitat”

To be avoided:
“in the company of beluga whales”
“paddling with beluga whales”
“heading out to meet beluga whales/blue whales”
“will beluga whales accompany us?”

An Image is Worth a Thousand Words

Images have a considerable impact on your audience; choose them carefully. While it may conjure up the dream, a photograph of a beluga whale or a blue whale may also suggest that the activity will target these species.

Are you using images that highlight beluga whales or blue whales?

Make sure:

  • that you accompany them with a conservation message (see examples in the following pages);
  • that there are no vessels in sight and that the image does not give the impression of human interaction;
  • that they show the animal in its natural habitat: the St. Lawrence River;
  • if applicable, to promote land-based beluga whale observation.

Realistic Expectations

The blue whale and the beluga whale are fragile species that must not be sought out or targeted for observation at sea. Did you know that only 15% of blue whales in the St. Lawrence raise their tails above the surface? Since this whale species is only an occasional park visitor, it is all the more exceptional to see its tail. It is therefore more realistic to observe its back and its dorsal fin.

Human-wildlife encounters

Show respect by portraying human-wildlife encounters from a distance. If endangered species appear in a photo with people or boats, you could be giving an impression of proximity that is illegal in the Marine Park.

Here are a few examples to be avoided:

  • An image simultaneously showing a boat (kayak, sailboat, motor vessel) and a beluga whale
  • Video of interaction between beluga whales and the operator or the passengers of a vessel

Integrated Conservation Message

When using beluga whale or blue whale images, incorporate an educational message about  endangered species protection. Here are five examples:

“Our company is committed to responsible whale watching. We respect the Regulations and keep clear of endangered species, such as the beluga whale and the blue whale, for their protection.”

“At sea, we maintain a minimum distance of 400 metres between our vessels and beluga whales or blue whales to allow them to go about their natural activities. However, you can see them closer up from several locations along the shore of the Marine Park.”

“to give them the space that they need, no vessel may remain stationary within ½ of a nautical mile of beluga whales. Our captains respect this distance.”

“The Marine Park is likely one of the only places in the world where the beluga whale and the blue whale come into contact with each other. Would you like to see them? Keep your binoculars handy during your excursion: boats maintain a minimal distance of 400 metres in order to protect these endangered species.”

“To respect their tranquility, we do not head out to encounter beluga whales during our excursions. If you would like to learn more about beluga whales, the naturalist-captain will gladly fill you in.”

Present an authentic, unique and distinctive Marine Park 

Exceptional Natural Wealth

The Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park protects a marine region that contains exceptional plant and animal diversity. The Marine Park is one of the best places in the world to watch whales. Whale watching can be carried out from a boat or from land. To visit this marine protected area is to have the privilege of gaining access to a natural setting where wild animals feed, rest and raise their offspring.

Referring to the Marine Park

Making reference to the Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park gives you the added value of the park’s notoriety. You demonstrate that you are committed to its mission and participate in its protection.

A Variety of Marine Mammals

There are up to three species of seals and six species of whales in the Marine Park. Other species may be observed on rare occasions. By presenting regularly observed species you ensure visitors will have realistic expectations that your products will be able to satisfy.

Portray realistic images of the Marine Park to satisfy visitors by bridging the gap between dream and reality.

Access to natural whale habitat is a privilege

Visitors discover a habitat that is important for whale survival, especially the St. Lawrence beluga whale. The protection of these marine mammals and their habitat is part of the Marine Park’s mandate.

Examples of images to be emphasized

Vessel and Whale

Here the promoter relies on an impression of intimacy and respect for the animal. The distance complies with the Regulations.

Breach or Whale Tail

The minke whale is a common Marine Park species and to see one breaching is not rare. The same can be said for the humpback whale that typically brings its tail above the surface as it dives.

Minke Whale Seen from Shore

This is a good representation of the reality of the Marine Park. This species of whale is frequently encountered and can be seen at sea and near the shore!

Biodiversity and Scenery

Showing a seal, a harbour porpoise or a flock of seabirds is a great way to evoke the area’s biological diversity. Local landscapes are renowned for their beauty and are unique to the Marine Park.

Examples of images to be avoided

Whale and Vessel Proximity

The whale appears to be within a radius of 100 m of a moving vessel. This image may create unrealistic expectations with respect to the proximity of whales.

In the Marine Park, whales (other than threatened or endangered species) may be observed from a distance of 200 m and, in certain situations, 100 m.

Beluga Whales

An image or a video depicting an endangered species and a vessel may represent a violation of the Regulations. A minimum distance of 400 m must be maintained, regardless of the type of vessel.

An Exceptional Fortuitous Encounter

It is possible to experience this type of chance encounter during an excursion without contravening the Regulations. However, using an image like this one for promotional purposes gives visitors the impression that they could see whales this close. This may spoil the reputation of the whale-watching industry in the Marine Park, which aims to be respectful, and may cause fear among potential clients.

Whale Watching from a Kayak

It is possible to see whales during a kayak excursion, but companies are not authorised to approach them. Thus, the promotion of guided kayak activities should not suggest this type of experience.


Exercise caution when editing. Edited footage could portray an illegal situation. Make sure the final product is realistic and respects the Regulations.

Images from Other Countries or Places

Avoid shots of other regions of the world. Scenery should portray the Marine Park, its shores, its waters and its biodiversity.

Underwater Images Obtained Elsewhere

Underwater images shot in aquariums or elsewhere in the world do not represent the reality of the rich, cold waters of the Marine Park. They may also give the impression of a close-up experience that is unrealistic, or even illegal. The Regulations prohibit entering the water with the intention of interacting with marine mammals.

Social media

Promote your good practices on social media platforms. Don’t hesitate to identify the Marine Park!

Social account

Facebook : @SaguenayStLawrenceMP – @ParksCanada – @reseausepaq (French only)

Instagram : @parks.canada – @reseausepaq (French only)







Frequently asked questions

Disturbance is not only acoustic. The presence of a boat or a kayak in beluga whale habitat can divert their attention and reduce the time that they spend taking care of their offspring, feeding and resting. The accumulation of interactions may have a serious effect on their chances of survival. Beluga whales require space and tranquility. Keep your distance.

Small or large, all whale-watching tour boats must respect the same distances. Under certain circumstances, they may have the privilege of approaching to a distance of 100 metres of a whale. Otherwise, they maintain a distance of 200 metres (400 metres if it is a threatened or endangered species). Kayak tour companies are not authorised to approach whales.

By affirming that beluga whales are curious, we transpose human sentiments that they do not necessarily experience. We do not know why beluga whales approach boats, which is why this expression should not be used to describe beluga whale behaviour. Keep in mind that we navigate in their natural habitat and that we are the visitors in their habitat. In the Saguenay Fjord and the St. Lawrence Estuary don’t forget to maintain a minimum distance of 400 m between your vessel and beluga whales.

The presence of tour boats can affect whales in various ways. Notably, there are increased risks of collision and injury, as well as potential disturbance due to noise or proximity. This industry is controlled by Regulations in order to minimize these effects and encourage the protection of whales.

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