Quebec Marine Mammal Emergency Response Network

Quebec Marine Mammal Emergency Response Network

November 14, 2011 16:41 ET

Overview of the Marine Mammal Network's 2011 Season

TADOUSSAC, QUEBEC--(Marketwire - Nov. 14, 2011) - What follows is the Quebec Marine Mammal Emergency Response Network's overview of the high season as it prepares to deal with typical autumn/winter cases. So far this year the call centre has received over 400 calls from the public on its toll-free number. One third of the cases involved living animals in trouble, half of which required field interventions by Quebec Marine Mammal Emergency Response Network members or collaborators.

Cases reported involved a large number of species in a wide variety of situations over a vast territory. This spring, for example, there were several cases of young harbour seals being disturbed by the general public in the Lower St. Lawrence region; beluga whales roaming far from home were sighted off the Gaspé Peninsula over the course of the summer; fishermen and other witnesses reported whales caught in fishing gear along the North Shore and off the Gaspé Peninsula; three white-sided dolphins stranded live on the shores of the Magdalen Islands during the first heavy autumn storm; a stray, young harbour seal was reported in Montreal's Old Port in October.

Carcasses reported to the Network are a goldmine of scientific information. A total of 16 beluga whale carcasses were reported so far this year. Fisheries and Oceans Canada manages a systematic carcass recovery program that has been in place for nearly 30 years. Nine of the 16 were fresh enough to undergo a necropsy at the University of Montreal's Faculty of Veterinary Medicine. The carcasses of other species were sampled or necropsied, when possible. These included harbour porpoises, white-sided dolphins, seals and minke whales, to name a few.

All of the information thus gathered is centralized and used to gain a better understanding of issues that affect St. Lawrence marine mammals, such as disease, accidental entanglement, ship strikes, etc. Eventually, this portrait will help decision makers to better direct their efforts to protect these species and their habitat.

Calls to the Marine Mammal Emergency Response Network dwindle in fall and winter and the general context changes. Migratory species leave our waters and beluga whales move downstream towards the Gulf, while harp and hooded seals arrive from the North. When these seals arrive, they are often observed resting on the shore for several hours to several days at a time. The Network therefore requests the collaboration of the general public. It is important to not approach these animals and to keep dogs on a leash. If there is concern for the animal, please call our toll-free number as soon as possible.

The Quebec Marine Mammal Emergency Response Network exists thanks to the involvement of 15 private and government organisations. Its mandate consists of organizing, coordinating and implementing measures aimed at reducing the accidental marine mammal deaths, assisting marine mammals in difficulty and facilitating the acquisition of information on dead animals in St. Lawrence and waters bordering on the province of Quebec.

The Network counts on shore dwellers and those who navigate the St. Lawrence to rapidly report all cases of marine mammals (whales and seals), in trouble or dead, by dialling 1-877-722-5346.

More about the Network and its members:

Contact Information

  • Veronik de la Cheneliere
    (418) 235-4701