Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Whaling in Tadoussac, Quebec

Watching beluga whales from shore

One of the minke whales that stopped by the campground

A fin whale out in the fog

Watching the blows from the shore

Sunrise-time to say howdy to more whales!

Beluga by our kayaks-one of many!

Carly and the Beluga

Watching for whales from the shore

More pictures later...

This was an unbelievable trip. We have loved kayaking with the whales on two previous trips but this one was truly a remarkable experience. We had a campsite right on the banks of the St. Lawerence and every morning we would wake to the sounds of the whales calling us out of our tent, with their loud blows as they made their way close to shore, in search of food. Campers would come to shore in their pajamas and with their coffee and sit on the rocks and watch this event in the early morning light. Everyone was amazed by each sighting. In fact, there were people watching and listening from shore and kayaking all day, even when it rained and had fog so thick that Ron and I lost sight of each other just a couple feet away. On those foggy days, everyone would listen for the loud blows and you could hear that eerie sound all around you.

This year, the whales were so plentiful and close to shore, that you could hardly bare to leave the shore and water, because you were afraid that you would miss the next whale. We saw lots of minkes, beluga, fin and a few humpback whales. There were lots of seals and porpoises popping up around our kayaks too.

On one of the first days, we went out and saw our first humpback whales in our three visits to Tadoussac. We were right next to a mother and baby. All of a sudden, right in front of us, the mother lifted her head way out of the water. Then they both blew, arched their backs and raised their tails up out of the water at the same time to make their deep dive. It was amazing. We were mesmerized by them...but when we turned toward shore, we realized that the wind, tide and current had carried us far from shore. It was difficult to get back. We would paddle and paddle and still be right in front of the same place on the shore. We finally made it back, very tired. There had been a photographer across from us when we were by the whales, who later showed us photos of me with the whales. He is supposed to send me the pictures and then I will post them.

On the next day it was foggy and drizzly but we decided we needed to do something so we got in the kayaks and headed down the seaway. We paddled relatively close to shore. But, at one point a large power boat ventured close to shore in the thick fog. We could hear it but not see it. The sound of the large engines kept getting louder and louder. We knew it was coming right at us. We finally saw it. It was a whaling power boat and it was way too close to us and still coming. Ron yelled at it but it could not hear us due to the loud engines. I waved my paddle. But, it kept coming. We quickly went closer to shore to get away from it. Whew. It was a relief when we got close enough to shore that we knew the boat could not make it. We think it was lost in the fog. We then wisely decided to just venture closer to shore. The fog remained thick, sometimes, in fact, we called to each other only to find out that we couldn't see each other just a few feet away. In that thick fog, we couldn't see a single whale but you sure could hear them. They were blowing all around us but when I ventured out a little way into the fog, the sounds were louder but no whales to be seen. We decided not to follow the sounds and to return to shore.

The last day was a day we will both remember for a long time. It started out at about 5 am and when I got up to go to the restroom, I had to yell to Ron because two whales were in the water in front of our campsite. We quickly got up and even before we could launch our kayaks, I saw ten whales from shore-just calling to us to join them...and that we did! We quickly got into our kayaks and we saw so many whales that day, that we lost track. Many were so close and so loud that they scared the living tar out of me. You would just be paddling on the seaway and all of a sudden you would hear a loud blow-some were so loud, they sounded almost like cannons. It startled me to say the least. Many times, they were all around us. We could hear or see them on all sides and then there would be heavy breathing seals or porpoises beside or behind us. At times,I was laughing because we were seeing so many whales. We said that they had us turning in all directions at once. We saw many beluga whales. There were 4 swimming right toward my kayak and I moved so they wouldn't run into me. I just don't trust their sonar...you know, maybe it's not working right today.. and being they were so big, I figured I would be the one to move. Two different times, three fin whales were all around my kayak. Swimming toward me and blowing loudly. Ron just yelled to me not to panic and he didn't think they would run into me.I moved rather nervously and quickly... just in case again. I could see how huge they are...about the size of a whale...On the way back to our campgrounds, we saw four or five large fin whales. Two of them stayed with us for a couple miles as we paddled, following us back to camp. Just as we were going into the bay area to pack up to go home, one of them came close to Ron, gave a large blow, arched his back as if to say goodbye and disappeared into the deep cold waters.It was definintely a day for our books.

What an exciting trip. We're ready to go back again. If anyone is interested, contact us, we may go again this summer but definitely will be going the last week of July in 2008. Join us for a trip of a lifetime. You can rent your equipment there if you don't have it. If you don't kayak, you can watch the whales from shore and have a wonderful experience visiting the small towns of French Quebec. It's about 1000 miles away but well worth every second to get there.

I will be posting pictures as we download them. Keep watching for new pictures.


The Miodonski Blog said...

You are both so crazy and adventurous. I love that we're related. You really inspire us to get out there and Live!

Linda said...

Thanks for sharing your story with us.Some of us may never experience anything like this but it's wonderful to know there is still many "Wonders " of the world.We may not all get there but you sure made us feel like we were traveling in the kayak next to Ron and you. God willing I'll be coming in 2008,if not just to be on shore whale watching.Love your pictures-Linda