Humpback Whale Seen Swimming In Montreal River For First Time Ever

by : Emily Brown on : 31 May 2020 17:32
Humpback Whale Seen Swimming In Montreal River For First Time Ever@LeDevoir/Twitter/@BaleineMagazine/Twitter

A humpback whale has been spotted in Montreal for what is thought to be the first time ever after it made its way up the St. Lawrence River in Canada. 

The whale is believed to have travelled from Tadoussac, a village in Quebec located at the confluence of the Saguenay and Saint Lawrence rivers, where it would have lived in salt water.


It was spotted swimming upstream underneath the Pont de Québec earlier this week, and yesterday morning, May 30, the whale found itself near the Jacques Cartier Bridge in Montreal.

Montreal is a fair way inland, but for whatever reason the determined whale decided to make the journey.

Robert Michaud, the coordinator for the Quebec Marine Mammal Emergency Network, described the situation as ‘unusual’, adding: ‘It’s the first time that we see a humpback past the Quebec area’, CBC reports.


Michaud speculated that the whale could have ended up in Montreal after following fish because it was hungry or confused.

He commented:

We don’t know why this animal made this journey. There are several hypotheses. Humans, whales and land mammals, sometimes they are vagrants that go in unusual places.

These journeys are usually a series of mistakes. But what is sure is that this animal doesn’t belong to this habitat.


Michaud said the humpback can live in fresh water, though pointed out the food and water around the city won’t be as healthy. There is also more ‘marine traffic’ in the area, which could cause the whale stress or harm.

Local residents gathered near the river throughout the day in attempt to spot the whale, and to their delight it surfaced every couple of minutes, spraying water through its blowhole or showing off its tail to the onlookers.

People could face a fine if they get within 100 metres of the whale using boats or other craft, though Michaud advised those trying to get a closer look to keep a 200-metre distance.


Though humpback whales are typically gentle, one could cause damage if it became stressed.

Marie-Eve Muller, who also works for the Quebec Marine Mammal Emergency Response Network, said the whale’s adventure may have come to an end in Montreal, the Montreal Gazette reports.

She commented:


The current is quite strong, it’s trying to go up but it’s having a hard time fighting the current.

It’s swimming freely so that’s good, it means it can move around as it needs. It’s hard to predict if it has hit the end of the road and will turn around and hopefully go back to her other humpback whale friends in Tadoussac or Gaspé.

Members of the Quebec Marine Mammal Emergency Network are on the water monitoring the whale’s movements alongside agents from Fisheries and Oceans Canada, who have been following the marine animal for the last two days.

The whale appeared to be slowly heading west as of yesterday, and experts are hoping it will make its way back home soon.

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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.

Topics: Animals, Canada, Marine Life, Now, Ocean


CBC and 1 other
  1. CBC

    A humpback whale is swimming in the St. Lawrence River in Montreal

  2. Montreal Gazette

    Wandering whale visits Montreal for a swim under the Jacques Cartier Bridge