Every year, as many as 200,000 people visit Tadoussac, Que. for whale watching.
Though the Saint Lawrence River is 25 kilometres across, Alexandre Tardif, a whale watching guide with Croisières AML, guarantees his Zodiac cruise will give people an up-close look at the massive mammals.
This year, tourism is up about 10 per cent in the northern Quebec town.
“On every cruise in the Saint Lawrence, you can see minke whales, beluga whales, beautifully pure white; we can find fin whales, we’ve had two humpback whales recently around the area,” Tardif said.
“Tadoussac is one of the best places in the world for whale watching,” added Patrick Noël, with the Tadoussac Tourism Office.
Recently, a group of tourists, got a very up-close look at the feeding behavior of a fin whale.
“The boat was right in the middle of a puddle of krill, so that’s why it seems like the whale is going to eat up the boat, but the whale doesn’t care about the boat,” Noël explained.
WATCH BELOW: Tourists were shocked when a fin whale swam right up to them as they were out whale watching near Tadoussac, Que.
Getting close to a whale is extremely rare – and there’s a reason for that.
Federal and provincial laws require boats to stay between 100 and 400 metres away from whales in order to protect their fragile ecosystem.
Whale watchers get to see species like the fin whales in their natural habitats.
“[I felt] that we were invading their territory, that this is their waters where they live…and we were foreigners,” said Phyllis Coates, a tourist from Tampa, Florida.
Noël said he doesn’t want people to be deterred from whale watching on zodiacs.
Instead, he wants to encourage them to learn more about the research that is being conducted.
Researchers also identify individual whales.
“The whales come back every summer, so we get to know them. They have names,” said Tardif.
“We have zipper, Tic Tac Toe, White Snow.”