It's a miracle. But an expert says the whale's health could be in jeopardy if it stays here too long.
A whale was spotted in the Saint Lawrence River near Montreal on May 8, Robert Michaud, president of the Groupe de recherche et d'éducation sur les mammifères marins (GREMM) confirmed to MTL Blog.
This is the second whale sighting near Montreal in recent years. In 2020, a humpback whale captivated the city after travelling hundreds of kilometres upriver. Its breaches near the Old Port warmed the hearts of pandemic-weary Montrealers.
That whale was eventually found dead near Varennes.
Minke whale in Montreal.Alain Belso | Courtesy of the GREMM
This time, it's likely a minke whale, a much smaller species, Michaud told Narcity Québec. It was seen in the Le Moyne channel near Montreal's Île-Sainte-Hélène.
"It is not frequent, but it's normal for animals to move away from their regular range," the GREMM president said.
"It happens to whales as well as polar bears and moose. Often it's young animals that are explorers, disoriented animals or animals that have made a series of mistakes — a bit like us when we get lost in the forest, a series of bad decisions that lead us to places and positions that are very uncomfortable."
He added that it's "difficult to say in the case of this minke whale what brought it here, but one thing is certain: it's not in the right place, it's not good for its health and we hope it decides to return home as soon as possible."
Unfortunately, he said, officials can't do much to turn it around.
"We don't have a safe and efficient way to make the animal go back downstream; it has already been tried elsewhere with no success. Its fate is somewhat in its own hands, and what we're going to do is watch over the navigation."
In the meantime, the GREMM is sending a team to try to take photos and examine the animal. Michaud said it's small and likely young.
Mariners have also been warned of its presence.
According to the NOAA, minke whales can grow up to 35 feet in length.
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