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Seeing Balugas

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Houston
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Seeing Balugas

Hi All! We'll be in Tadoussac in late June. We've done alot of whale watches in other parts of the world, but we've never seen Belugas. What is the best way to view them? Do any of the whale watching tours make a priority to find them over other types of whales that time of the year?

Sorry about the spelling on the title.

Edited: 12 June 2013, 16:03
Toronto
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1. Re: Seeing Balugas

The best way to view them (in terms of seeing them up close) is on a whale watching boat tour like with any other species. I've seen belugas on most, although not all, of the whale watching trips I've been on in that area.

However, since belugas are one of the few species that swims in the Saguenay River as well as the St. Lawrence, there are other ways to see them too, like from shore along the fjord or (if you're lucky) from the ferry across the Saguenay on your way into Tadoussac. Bring good binoculars if you want to try spotting belugas from shore. With their colour and their lack of dorsal fin, they can look like whitecaps from afar.

I would think that since June is a bit early for some of the migratory species, but belugas live there year-round, they'd be a good target for whale watching operators at that time of year. But I haven't been there in June so that's just a guess.

port republic
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2. Re: Seeing Balugas

some of the best whale watching I've experienced has been Tadoussac. did see belugas from shore and the boat. you will have different boat options from large boats to rigid hull inflatables to maybe even kayaks.

so talk to a couple of tour operators to see what they can predict. it may be that the smaller boats stay closer to the fiord, I can't imagine it would be a problem to get multiple species in a day, I think the Belugas are the surest thing

Montreal, Canada
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3. Re: Seeing Balugas

Having done whale watching tours on the west coast and in several locales in New England the Tadoussac area is by far the best, On a tour last summer we saw pods of Beluga, Minke,fin and ,humpback also several kinds of seals out by the round light house. You may or may not see one particular whale but i'll guarantee you'll see whales.

Houston
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4. Re: Seeing Balugas

How common is it to see them from the ferry? Can pedestrians ride it back and forth?

Montreal, Canada
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5. Re: Seeing Balugas

Good question,as long as it was just a few pedestrians i dont think the ferry workers would make much of an issue about it, but that said i think there are better observation points to view whales than on the ferry,for instance the top of the hill leading to the ferry on the west side of the fjord, another would be the trail winding around the backside of the boat docks in Tadoussac harbour.

Or if you are feeling brave you can rent a kayak and try your luck.

Edited: 13 June 2013, 21:11
Houston
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6. Re: Seeing Balugas

Since what we really want to see is Belugas, should that influence whether we do a whale watching tour on a Zodiac or big boat? Are they better viewed from the upper level of a bigger boat? Since they're so much smaller than other species, is getting close to Belugas on a Zodiac all that thrilling (if it happens)? Is an encounter with Belugas more likely on one type of boat or another?

Montreal, Canada
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7. Re: Seeing Balugas

As i've commented before Zodiacs may be fine for some but to me its a 3 hour+ tour with no bathrooms or room to walk around.

I like the bigger boats like the Dufours Monohull that has 3 open levels for viewing, a bathroom on each floor and a coffee shop and large areas to get out of the weather and still be able to view. As for viewing Belugas theres no guarantees you'll see them'

Good luck.

Montreal
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8. Re: Seeing Balugas

Hi,

I've done the zodiac tour just once and the big boat a few times and I saw belugas only on the big boats (all the time). But again, nothing is guarantee and someone else would have see some... The belugas are usually close to the Fjord, so you should try to take a tour that departs from Tadoussac or Baie-Ste-Catherine (AML, Dufour). Other compagnies like Essipit leave from Les Escoumins or other places eastern of Tadoussac so you have less chances of seeing belugas (but you may see bigger whales...)

Also, I've made a few trips on kayaks from a few hours to 3 days trip and I saw whales (actually it was 3 belugas) just one time in the Fjord. But I saw many kayaks very close to whales when I was on the boats, and that's when you told yourself "Why I'm not with them?!?!?" :)

As for viewing whales (and belugas) from shore, you can look at the "Top questions about Tadoussac" on the top-right corner, there's a few spots like JimR mentionned.

So in conclusion, you'll see whales on the zodiacs or big boat for sure. Kayaks: not so sure... From the shore: probably if you have good eyes and you give you enough time.

Have a good vacation

Steph

Houston
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9. Re: Seeing Balugas

Here's my follow-up on our quest to see Belugas. Our experience may or may not be typical.

Seeing Belugas was our top priority. So we scheduled our arrival time on June 22 to coincide with a whale watch on the big Dufour boat. They headed way out into the St. Lawrence, where we 'chased' a humpback around for a long time. Later, the crew reported seeing 2 other species, but most didn't see them way off in the distance.

As we got close to shore, the voice on the microphone said that this is where we would be likely to see Belugas. But they seemed to be in a hurry to end the whale watch, and we motored straight in without seeing a Beluga.

We had taken note of the fact that it is much easier to spot them when the wind is calm, since it can be hard to distinguish them from whitecaps. So the next morning, we headed down to the rocky point on the Tadoussac side. The wind was calm and it was near low tide. We looked over on the far side of the Fjord, and there they were.

Next, we headed off to Baie St. Marguerite to do the short hike to the high viewing area. The ranger there led us to believe that it was not very common to see them there, and this time, she was right.

The next morning, we went back to the rocky point on the Tadoussac side to see if the Belugas would come any closer. Again, it was near low tide and the wind was calm. And there they were, in the same spot near the ferry landing on the opposite side. This time, we jumped into the car and rushed onto the ferry. Near the opposite side, we passed very close to a small pod. Nice! We drove off the ferry, up the hill, and parked in the small parking area. This was also awesome, as we were looking straight down, and could see the Belugas under water.

We loved the irony of getting skunked on the expensive whale watching tour, and seeing a nice sized pod up close on the free ferry.

Montreal, Canada
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10. Re: Seeing Balugas

Nice ! What a great story. We have not been to Tadoussac for 15 years and this inspires me to go back.