The area of the Marine Park is probably the only place where the beluga whale and the blue whale meet.
The St. Lawrence Estuary is a prime destination for whale and seal watching. In addition to the resident species, many migratory marine mammals will travel thousands of kilometres each year to get there.
Why? Because the estuary is a well-stocked pantry! It is part of the quarter of the ocean surface area where prey is abundant and accessible. Several factors explain this phenomenon: currents and upwellings of deep waters, the tides, the topography of the sea floor, and the meeting of fresh water from rivers and the Great Lakes with the salt water of the Atlantic.
The beluga is the star of the Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park. The need to protect the beluga and its summer habitat was a convincing reason for the creation of the marine park in 1998.
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 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.
From microscopic algae to the gigantic blue whale, more than 2,200 wild species have been observed at the marine park. Discover the marine mammals that are seen most often.
Research and many hours of observation have shown that some species sometimes visit the marine park. If you see one of them, savour the experience of that exceptional moment!
Keep your eyes peeled and your ears open while out walking, biking or driving along the Marine Park’s shorelines. You might well glimpse or hear beluga, minke or fin whales, or possibly harbour porpoises, as they swim along the coast. There are surprises in store for you from Baie-Sainte-Catherine to Les Escoumins, with Sacré-Coeur in between.