Right now, we’re driving through the Gaspe region of Quebec. Deb’s Dad, Jim suggested we come through Rimouski and Amqui en route to the north shore of New Brunswick, not only to cut some time off our journey, but to see the impressive views of the St. Lawrence.
As Deborah drives along, I can’t help but contrast the view we have now – to the views we seen yesterday.
With the cool wind in our hair, the scent of the salt water and diesel wafting across the open deck, we shoved out on our whale watching adventure on the broad open sea of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Almost immediately, my eyes focus on some black seals just off-shore from the port of Riviere-du-Loup. From that point, early in our sea faring adventure, the ocean is alive with sea mammals.
Within a few minutes, my eyes focus on specks of white, bobbing in and out of the green-blue water in the distance. Sure enough, our guide, in his broken english announces to the boat deck that a pair of Beluga Whales are off the star-board side.
Throughout the whole afternoon, my eyes were fortunate enough to meet the wildlife minutes before the guide’s announcements. It takes a bit of a sharp eye and some patience to scan to maritime horizon to find these elusive sea creatures.
We didn’t get very close to the Belugas but I felt fortunate, nonetheless, to gaze upon their bulbous heads and sleek bodies in the coldness. Apparently, we were navigating through a pod of about a hundred Belugas. But no sooner than we make our approach to a swath of calm water, the pod disappears without a trace. Our ship continues east into the Gulf.
About an hour into our cruise, we cross a curious pod of seals, numbering about sixty. To most of the boat, including our girls, the seals are a mere sideshow curiousity. I wave to them anyhow, greeting their Spirits. They are beautiful to me and worth the $60 ticket.
As soon as we cross the salt-water threshold into the deep sea, my eyes spot the first of many Minke Whales. These weren’t the stars of our expedition show, but for the guy that was happy to see the seals, they were far beyond my expectations. A dozen at a time, these 10 metre whales breeched and dove, showing their dorsal fins to us in a vast, maritime ballet. Incredible!
The star of the show, however, was the spectacular Fin Whales. Long before we can actually see them, I can spot the spray and mist from their blow hole. At first, we see a pair of Fin Whales, dancing in tandem through their feeding ballet. For about five minutes at a time, the second largest animals on the planet, take their collective breaths, before diving far down and disappearing into the abyss. Then our search is on again for the next sighting.
About ten whale-watching boats skirt about the surface hoping for the next great vantage point. Our boat is by-far the largest. Most are smaller zodiacs packed to the rafters with orange ablazoned, life-jacketted tourists.
Then as quick as they disappeared, the Fin Whales resurfaced to the delight of our cameras and gasping crowds. These animals are so majestic and impressive. Their shiny backs glisten in the sun, reflecting our Grandfather’s radiance as they billow and splash gently in the sea.
After a couple more sighting, we’re told we’ll only be staying about five more minutes. But we’re all satisfied. (Except the ungrateful teenagers who continually express their bordom from probably one of the most memorable life experiences this writers has ever encountered in the wild.)
But little did we know, we’d experience a much more breathtaking encounter.
After a couple, ever-closer encounters with the giant Fins, we hit the motherload. About 20 metres from the port side of the vessel, four Fin Whales make their appearance exclusively to our us. The breech and dive, showing their greyish heads and sides clearly visible to us all. I can even see some redish-brown coloring and their unique texture of their hides.
Then I noticed, all around us, we were surrounded by whales. Dozens of Minkes and this small family of Fin Whales. It was intense and beautiful. For a good ten minutes, these kings of the sea swim closer to our boat to the delight of us cooing tourists.
Soon after, they disappear silently into the lat afternoon, leaving us all thankful for this close encounter.
Miigwetch G’zhemnidoo for this amazing experience. Life and Creation is great indeed.