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Minke whale carcass found near Montreal is likely one spotted near city: expert

A whale is seen in the waters of the St. Lawrence River, near Montreal, Monday, May 9, 2022. A whale carcass found near Contrecoeur, southeast of Montreal, is probably one of two minke whales seen in Montreal a few weeks ago. Morgan Lowrie/The Canadian Press

A dead whale found in the St. Lawrence River northeast of Montreal is probably one of two minke whales seen near the city earlier this month, a marine researcher said Thursday.

Robert Michaud, president of a Quebec marine mammal research group, said experts have yet to examine the carcass found in Contrecoeur, Que., about 50 kilometres downstream from Montreal.

Michaud said a necropsy could be performed depending on that assessment, adding that the task would fall to veterinary medicine students at Université de Montreal.

Read more: Research group says whales that turned up in Montreal haven’t been seen since Sunday

Two minke whales were spotted this month near Montreal, and there were concerns for their well-being, as they were about 450 kilometres upstream of their usual range.

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Minke whales are common in Quebec but don’t generally venture west of the saltwater St. Lawrence estuary around Tadoussac, Que.

Ronald Gosselin, one of the fishermen behind the discovery on Thursday morning, said he was in his boat fishing when he saw a bizarre shape in the water.

“In my life, I’ve seen maybe two or three whales, including one that beached in Contrecoeur,” Gosselin said.

Click to play video: 'Second minke whale spotted in Montreal area, marine mammal group says' Second minke whale spotted in Montreal area, marine mammal group says
Second minke whale spotted in Montreal area, marine mammal group says – May 12, 2022

A local fishing guide, Gosselin, 66, said whales are not a common sight in the area. He spotted the mammal floating in the St. Lawrence River near Île Saint-Ours.

The two Montreal whales had not been seen since mid-May.

It’s unclear why whales occasionally venture into freshwater habitats, but Michaud has said there isn’t much that can be done to help them besides hoping they turn around and head home.

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