Some Quebec City-area residents got a big surprise on Tuesday. According to the Groupe de recherche et d'éducation sur les mammifères marins (GREMM), a humpback swam up the Saint Lawrence River and got as far as the bridges that connect the north and south shores outside the capital. "The sighting of a humpback whale so close to Quebec City is a first for the [GREMM]," it explained in a statement.
"Minke whales and beluga whales have been reported in the past, but never whales of this size."
"An adult humpback whale measures between 13 and 17 metres long and can weigh up to 40 tonnes."
The whale was "first spotted by fishermen in the afternoon" and disappeared after 8:30 p.m.
What brought it that far up the river is still a mystery.
The GREMM posits that it could have been following prey or become lost.
It could have even been encouraged by a decline in human activity due to the health crisis.
Though, the group notes, it's impossible to reach a conclusion right now.
It further assures that the whale "should be able to make its way back to the Estuary or Gulf of St. Lawrence on its own."
The sighting near Quebec City comes as the GREMM anticipates a "record season" for humpback whales in the Saint Lawrence estuary and gulf.
"The presence of this species in the St. Lawrence is relatively new and, since 2018, the number of individuals observed has been increasing significantly," the group wrote in a May 21 statement.
In fact, "it was not until the year 2000 that more than two individuals were identified each summer" in the estuary.
This isn't the first encouraging sign for whales this year, either.
At the beginning of May, two North Atlantic right whales were spotted in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence.
"North Atlantic right whales are officially back in Canadian waters," Fisheries and Oceans Canada wrote on Facebook at the time.
The presence of the endangered species led to a closure of fisheries in the area.
Hopefully, these sightings are the first of many this summer.
Stay tuned for more whale news.