Whales St Lawrence river, Quebec

Hi everyone

I’m going to be mammal watching/birding around the St Lawrence River, Quebec in August, for three weeks. Has anyone got any good tips? 

I know Tadoussac is the main spot but I’ve just read a trip report where their best blue whale sighting was from Ste Anne de Portneuf. Not sure if this was just luck, or whether it’s a better spot for this species. Any recommendations for the best companies to use or any other general thoughts would be much appreciated.

Also, last time I went whale watching I was with my family and, as my daughter was only 18 months old, Zodiacs weren’t an option.  She’ll be eight this time.  I’m presuming they’re better, but photography is a high priority and I’m bit concerned about whether I’ll be too busy wiping salt spray off my precious lens to get good photos.  Any advice on this would also be welcome.





  • Jon Hall

    Hi Steve, I can’t help much I am afraid – I’ve never been there.Though you can usually get a good feel for the operator based on the website… some are obviously much more knowledgeable on the cetaceans than others in most places I’ve been. For photography then I usually cover the lens with a dry bag or something until the boat stops for photos. Taking photos while the boat is moving is unlikely to be much of an option! When I took my 7 year old looking at Orcas off of Vancouver she was far more interested in the ride than the animals. After 5 minutes with the whales she started asking “when can we go zooming again”. I hope yours is more appreciative!

  • Simon Feys

    Hi Steve,

    I was in the area in autumn 2011 (my report is on the website). We did a zodiac-trip from Les Escoumins (we only saw Minke whales), but others saw a Blue whale in the area that week (could also have been from Cap-du-Bon-Désir, here you see Minke whales very close from the shore). The best place for larger whales was Forillon, we did 2 trips with the only company present there, and saw several Humpbacks. Fin whale was seen just before us, Blue whales are also seen there in summer (a friend of mine said they were very easy there in summer). Feel free to contact me if yo have more questions. Here, Black bears, Porcupine and Beaver were very easy too

    All the best,

  • stevebabbs

    Thanks guys

    After doing some digging for gen a bit more myself, I was thinking two trips from Forillon and one from Les Escoumins may be my best bet. Hopefully that’ll get me blue and beluga – my main two targets. I certainly intend to spend time at Forillon for other mammals.


  • stevebabbs

    I’m now wondering if there is any reason to go to the north shore. I could do a boat trip from Riviere du Loop. Does anyone know if land base watching is better is better from the north? I’d save myself time and money sticking to the south.



  • Simon Feys

    I think the north side is better because of the water depth. We drove along the south side on our way back, but didn’t see any close whales. The best place for land-based watching definately seems to be Cap-du-Bon-Désir. You can however see (with a scope) whales from the south side as well.

  • Simon Feys

    I just saw that I still had the following website on my pc: http://www.baleinesendirect.net/fra/pag.php?PagRef=Wzn In the good season there are weekly updates with what’s been seen in the area.

  • Tanya

    Hi Steve!

    If your main goal is to take pictures of whales, I do not recommend the zodiac excursion. I had the opportunity to go out on the St. Lawrence last year on a zodiac and was drenched when we got back. Don’t get me wrong, the experience was AMAZING but I was so scared for my camera, that I didn’t really take it out.
    On our excursion, we saw a fin whale, a minke whale and two humpback whales (a mother and her calf). http://bit.ly/Qme_4248

    On the north shore, excursionists usually leave from Tadoussac and tend to go towards Cap-de-Bon-Désir. The latter is also a great sight for whale watching from the shore.
    Belugas are mostly located in the area of the Saguenay – St. Lawrence Marine Park

    On the south shore, if you leave from Rivière-du-Loup, you’ll still be heading towards the North Shore. So it’ll all depend on how you need to plan your itinerary.

    In the Gaspé Peninsula, you could go whale watching in the Gaspé Bay. It is also a great place to see many species of whales, including the blue whale.

    Let me know if you need any more information while planning your trip! I’ll gladly help!

    Le Québec maritime

  • stevebabbs

    Thanks Tanya. I think I’ll go for covering my camera with a bag or two until the boat stops.

    I think my plan is now:
    Fly to Montreal
    Stop at motel to break journey
    Parc de la Gaspesie – reindeer, general birding/wildlife watching
    Forillon National Park/Gaspe – whale trips, porcupines, bears general birding/wildlife watching
    Parc du Bic – convinient break before ferry to northside/chill out/general wildlife watching
    Les Escoumins/Tadoussac – whale trip by boat, land-based whale watching
    Back to Montreal

    Any thoughts?

    Going off at a slight tangent, I’ve read that a decline in porcupine numbers at Parc du Bic is being blamed on the number of fishers. Anyone got any tips on seeing this species?


    • Tanya

      Wow, that’s quite a trip you’ve got planned!

      My first question : no stops at Bonaventure Island and Percé Rock National Park to see the gannets colony? Besides those, there are many more bird species to see…if you’re REALLY lucky, you might even see the few Atlantic Puffins that nest in Bonaventure Island’s crevasses. Also, you’re almost guaranteed to see seals swimming near the Island.

      But for seals, the best place is Bic National Park, August should be a great period to see them closer. When the tide is low, they rest on rocks near the shore and we can usually get close (respectfully of course!)

      Now concerning your question, the decline in the porcupine population of Bic National Park is due, mostly to another animal, the pekan. There is actually no fishing allowed in the Park.

      Your trip sounds really exciting and I’d love to hear from you when you get back…or even during, for that matter.
      Would you like me to send you free tourist guides for Gaspésie, Bas-Saint-Laurent & Côte-Nord – Manicouagan?

      Let me know!
      Tanya (tanya.paquet@quebecmaritime.ca)

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