Marine Mammal Interpretation Center in Tadoussac

The campground we are staying at is located in a fantastic place, the sites are fair sized and they have 3 hook-ups. Well, the power is running high in voltage so most of the time we stay unplugged, especially when sleeping and not here. We have a surge protector built in for the motorhome but Mom doesn’t feel like playing risk. The campground says there is no problem. Whatever. So last night was chilly and rainy and we survived. This morning was much the same so we got a slow start.

We went to back to Tadoussac today to visit the Centre D’Interpretation des Mammiferes Marins (CIMM), or the Marine Mammal Interpretation Center. They had an impressive display of whale skeletons, baleen and teeth.  We were given a book in English to help guide our way though all the French signs.


Exploring different baleen.



We learned that a Minke whale has a four foot long penis! Oh boy, the birds and the bees. We learned a lot about how the whales breed, incubate and then raise their calfs.


We all liked the display on whale sounds and how as we get older our range of hearing decreases. Mom covered the information and we all took the test separately without the others looking. Mom tested about 35 years old, B tested at 10 and E tested a bit better than B but there was no age marking under 10years old.



We watched a rather long movie about the whales of the St. Lawrence. We had to wear headphones to have the track in English.

After the program we headed outside to watch for whales from the rocks. The wind is really strong today so we were told that the belugas likely would head upstream for more protection from the winds. The same would be true of the minke and fin along the coast. They head further out to water during high winds near shore.


We had fun looking in all the tide pools in the rocks.



We grabbed a few groceries at the gas station (SO looking forward to Publix again) and came back to journal and do laundry. The campground has one washed and one dryer and they are by far the most expensive we have seen on our trip at 3$ for each. The washer was good and the dryer started out great and they died halfway through the cycle. Mom grabbed the laundry and is trying to dry it on our towel rack in the cross breeze of the motorhome. We aren’t allowed to put up clothes lines here.

Tomorrow we plan to spend the day whale watching up the coast in Tadoussac again. This will be our last day on the saltwater for our trip. We head inland and then towards Montreal in the next few days. We have really enjoyed the marine life and are sad to say goodbye to it. FOR NOW!



More Seguenay Exploring

Today we went back to the Marine Environment Discovery Center north of Tadoussac. We took the ferry over. There was no fog today and the view was amazing. We could see up the fjord. Off the side of the boat were a pod of beluga whales. We saw them show their tails but couldn’t get down and near the side to get a photo of them. It was amazing to see them show their tails.



At the Marine Environment Discovery Center we went rock scrambling while watching for sea life. We saw a few seals and a pod of harbor porpoise swim by near the rocks. Just as we were turning to leave he heard the blow of a whale. We all spun around to see a huge Minke whale surfacing. We watched a few more minutes and saw it come up again about 30 meters from us. Where the rocky shore meets the water there is an immediate drop-off. The whales like to chase their food up against the rocks.


A little rock scrambling before we head up the hill.


We attended a class on sharks in the St. Lawrence. We learned that there are 7 main species in the area. They have great white, blue shark, mackerel shark, basking, Greenland and two types of dogfish. We learned about their anatomy and how sharks have three extra senses. It was fun to learn that they have recently dated a deceases Greenland shark at about 400 years of age. This is quite amazing! Also the mackerel shark carried their eggs inside and as they hatch they eat the other eggs or sibling until one is left. Then that one will life in the mom until it is about 1/4 the size of an adult. Sometimes the babies get aggressive and actually kill their Mom from within. Freaky!



Next we drove inland and along the Saguenay River to the Quebec National Park of the Saguenay Fjord and Saint Marguerite. We checked out the visitors center.



Then hit the trail. It was supposed to be a spectacular place to view beluga whales. We hiked the 3km trail out to the viewing platforms. We arrived and it was insanely packed with people looking out at the water. We were excited to see the whales but there were NONE! NONE! We stuck around about an hour and watched from the beach below the platform and then the platform as people started to leave. Nothing! Oh well. The walk was beautiful along the river and we took a nice stroll back. Breighton walked ahead when Emmerson needed a break. B left us trail markers drawn in the sand. We followed a path of “I was here. -B”, arrows and times he past points until we caught back up with him sitting on a bench watching some black, fuzzy caterpillars.



The weather got up to 86F today with no breeze. We think it was because we were inland. On the way back on the ferry the temperature was back in the upper 70s and by the time we got to the campground it was in the mid 70s. Amazing how within an hour the temperatures vary so much.

Saguenay Exploring

The marine park runs along the fjord and to get to the other side it either takes a 4.5 hour drive or a 20 minute ferry. We opted for the ferry, it is free. The system was quick and smooth.


You can see Baymax in the right hand side of the photo. We explored outside the care for a few minutes and then headed back to stay warm.



The fog was very thick this morning.


We arrived at the other side and headed to the next visitors center. We wandered down to the rocky shores and waited for a program to begin. IMG_2872

There were divers down in the water and they would bring up marine life to the pools for us to explore. They had huge chucks of ice in the pools and the sea water was pumped up from below the rocks we were climbing on.


We saw some very unique species to the cold waters. This is a polar sea star.


A sun star. IMG_2885

This is a toad crab. Although the guide insisted it was a spider crab and that the rock crab was a toad crab. I tried to correct him but had no luck.


We waited eagerly as they added new species to the pool.


At the end they guide asked if we would like to help put everything back in the bucket so the divers could take them back out to the water. We gladly agreed to help and set to work.


We explored the interpretation sites inside.


Then took the ferry back to the portion of the park we are staying near.


After a quick snack we headed out to a zodiac whale watching trip. We had to dress in these arctic water suits to stay warm and in case we fell in the water. The jackets had built in flotation.



I told Mom I felt like the kid from Christmas Story in his snowsuit.



The zodiac held about 50 people. We all had seats and could see as long as people respected sitting down so others could see.


We drove out past the cool lighthouse in water and saw a huge group of grey seals.




Then some Minkie whales appeared. We had a blast watching them. They do not surface their tails like humpbacks do.



We saw a few finbacks but they were a bit far away to get a good photo. I had a blast.


After the whales we headed up the fjord. We could see where we took the ferry.



What a beautiful way to spend our evening.




Saguenay Marine Park

Today we arrived at the Saguenay Marine park. We set up the campsite and then headed out to explore. The Marine Park is very large and managed not only by Parks Canada but but Quebec Parks as well. We grabbed the brochure of the things in the area and inquired about some programs of interest. When we got out of the car we saw beluga whales in the river. This is the area just about where the Saguenay River and the St. Lawrence meet. The beluga like the warmth of the water and the calmness for raising their young.

We saw about 50 beluga including many babies.


The center had binoculars and spotting scopes you could use to get a better view of the whales.


It’s hard to see but the white dots in the water are the belugas.


We did some geocaching and learned more about white whales.


We were initiated into the Xplorer program and received our dogtags.




Parks Canada Xplorer Program

During our posts we mention the Parks Canada Xplorer program often. It is similar to the Junior Rangers we have at the US National Parks. The books typically ask to complete 3-5 activities. The boys do all the activities possible to get the most out of each site we visit. Below is the link to the program if you are interested.

So far this summer we have managed to visit 32 sties with the program and have about 10 more on the list to visit before our travels end.

The collection of dog tags. IMG_2825