August 31, 2018
31 / 05 / 2019
We’re on board the Bleuvet in the company of researcher Véronique Lesage from Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Maurice Lamontagne Institute. Today we will attempt to tag a beluga in order to record its calls and track its behaviour. We are sailing south of the Prince Shoal Lighthouse in the company of a herd split into four or five groups. Amongst the belugas present, we identify DL2071. As one individual approaches the Bleuvet, we reach out a pole with a tag loaded onto its tip. Bull’s-eye! Our senior technician Michel Moisan successfully tags the animal at 9:23. The beluga strays from the rest of its group while the other animals disperse as well. Now the real challenge begins: we must maintain visual contact with the animal at all times. Whenever it dives, we try to estimate where it will resurface. The waves are growing larger, making our job that much harder. The herd composition changes, with the animals now split into three groups, from the middle of which emerges the tagged beluga. It rests in one spot at the surface, a behaviour we refer to as “logging” due its resemblance to a floating log. Surprise! Without warning, at 10:24, the tag falls off the beluga’s back. We rush to pick it up and subsequently extract the precious data it contains.