A wandering humpback whale that unexpectedly made its way to Montreal’s Old Port in late May and charmed hordes of spectators appears to have died.
The whale carcass was found floating in the St. Lawrence River in Varennes, east of Montreal, by a maritime pilot early Tuesday morning.
Marie-Eve Muller, a spokesperson for the Group for Research and Education on Marine Mammals (GREMM), said it wasn’t the ending experts were hoping for and could not confirm it was the same creature spotted in the city at first.
After seeing its tail, the research group was able to confirm that it was in fact the same whale that put on quite the show last week.
Muller said there were “tremendous efforts” to keep the 9.5-metre whale safe by Montreal police after it was spotted under the Jacques-Cartier Bridge in Montreal. Locals who showed up in droves to catch a glimpse had grown fond of the humpback, she added.
A team of fishery experts has been dispatched to recover the whale’s carcass, which appears to be moving along the river. They will also perform a necropsy on the body.
“The whale will be towed to a beach. We don’t know yet which beach,” Muller said. “It’s a lot of logistical work to be able to first tow the whale safely.”
The Fisheries and Oceans Ministry confirmed that it is trying to secure the whale carcass and remove it from the river.
“Such a drifting carcass is a danger to navigation,” a spokesperson for the department said in a statement.
The humpback whale was first seen outside of the Old Port near the La Ronde amusement park in late May. The Quebec Marine Mammal Emergency Response Network said it was the first time a humpback whale had been spotted in Montreal.
At the time, the organization said it was unclear why it was there but that it could be that it was following prey, possibly disoriented or perhaps just a young whale exploring new territory.
— With files from Global News’ Anne Leclair and the Canadian Press