Have you ever dreamed of joining a research team to study and help monitor the status of a wildlife species? Immerse yourself in the marine mammal fieldwork that MICS has conducted for nearly 40 years!
EAC Tours is once again joining forces with Richard Sears, President of Mingan Island Cetacean Study, to conduct research on populations of blue, humpback, fin, and minke whales in the Gulf of the St. Lawrence. Richard and MICS are best known for being the first organization in the world to have carried out long term studies of the blue whale.
Every year, MICS offers the public the unique opportunity to participate in their research on marine mammals called Research Adventures. These adventures are the cornerstone of our education programs, during which nature enthusiasts can participate in our studies and observe the world's largest animals. We offer one-week or two-week research sessions at various study sites throughout the North Atlantic where participants get to experience the life of a whale researcher first hand alongside our field team.
Participants become "research apprentices" who learn and use different techniques employed by biologists who study cetaceans in the field. This is a unique educational experience and adventure for nature lovers who wish to gain extensive knowledge of cetaceans and our research techniques while funding our long-term research.
Why not immerse yourself and participate in a one or two week-long whale research adventures? You will spend a week alongside MICS' biologists and witness the day to day life of a whale researcher.
The research sessions we offer provide us with the funds needed to carry out field studies in the immediate Mingan/Anticosti study area, the St. Lawrence Estuary, and beyond to the Azores. By participating in our research sessions you support our work financially and contribute directly to various aspects of the fieldwork.
We are certain that experiencing the graceful breach of a 40-ton humpback whale, a close encounter with an 85-foot blue whale, or being engulfed in a group of 500 Atlantic white-sided dolphins will leave a lasting impression.
2018 Research Schedule
Location: Research in the North Shore Mingan Archipelagos
Species: Minkes, humpbacks, fins, and blue whales.
Dates: Mid-June until Mid-September
Location: Research in the Gulf of St-Lawrence, Gaspe
Species: Blue whales
Dates: Mid-August until Mid-September
Location: Research in the Azores, Pico Island Archipelagos
Species: Blue whales*
Dates: End-April until Beginning-May
Richard Sears, Lead Researcher and Whale Expert
*Sperm whales, Risso's dolphins, and common dolphins can be seen regularly, and along with blues other rorquals such as humpbacks, fin, sei, and minke whales can be observed. Orcas, pilot whales and beaked whales, can also be sighted, not to mention turtles, shearwaters, and teaming planktonic life in the surface waters.
Costs range from $2500 to $3500 per person - per week depending on location. Price includes lodging, meals, transportation.
North Shore Research Adventure
Research Adventures in the Mingan Archipelagos (mid-June until Mid-September)
Our research station is located in Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan, a village of approximately 600 people, on the North Shore of the Gulf of St-Lawrence. The station includes a museum describing the natural history of local cetaceans and research facilities. The Gulf of St. Lawrence is a highly productive feeding ground that supports many of the rorqual whales including minkes, humpbacks, fins, and blues. Many other smaller marine mammals are seen large numbers throughout the region such as harp and grey seals, harbor porpoises, and Atlantic white-sided dolphins. During the summer, a large puffin colony nests on Île aux Perroquets, just a few miles off shore. Plenty of gannets, guillemots, petrels, razorbills, and eider ducks can be seen throughout the islands as well.
MICS has been studying blue whales and other rorquals for over twenty-five years in the Gulf of St- Lawrence. The method of photo-identification for blue whales, used today by biologists in the field, was developed by MICS and has helped us catalogue over 400 individual blue whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. MICS has also compiled extensive photo-identification catalogues of the other species in the area: our fin whale catalogue contains over 350 individuals, and our humpback catalogue contains over 600 individuals. We also biopsy the rorqual whales of the region in order to determine their sex and to analyze the blubber for toxins.
C$2,635 1-week session
C$5,005 2-week session
All inclusive (lodging, meals, transportation)
Based on double occupancy [add $100 / week for single occupancy]
Blue Whales (Gaspé)
Research Adventures in the Gulf of St-Lawrence (Mid-August until Mid-September)
The eastern tip of Gaspé is the first place we find whales early in the field season. Blue, fin, minke and humpback whales can be sighted there as early as April but are more regularly seen from May through July. The eastern region of Gaspé is where the whales feed early in the season before moving further into the St. Lawrence to the west and to the north. Off Gaspé one can regularly observe breaching humpback whales, as well as surface feeding of the above-mentioned species. Additionally, it is not uncommon to observe Atlantic white-sided dolphins, harbor and grey seals, harbor porpoises, and occasionally right whales, all of which come to prey on the swarms of copepods which live in these nutrient-rich waters.
This magnificent region, which offers an abundant supply of food for all the species that have discovered its rich waters, is one of the prime sites for observing marine life in the St. Lawrence. The striking Forillon National Park juts out into the St. Lawrence, forming one of the picturesque facades of Gaspé Bay, a magical place in which to observe and study numerous species of marine mammals. The observations we carry out in this region are essential in determining dispersal and distribution of individuals in the St-Lawrence each year. The research off the Gaspé Peninsula complements the work we do from June to September in the Mingan Island region, in July off Blanc Sablon, and during August and September in the St-Lawrence Estuary. These combined studies enable us to form a more accurate picture of marine mammal ecology in the St-Lawrence. A yearly rendez-vous not to be missed, join our Gaspé research sessions, assist us in our studies, and contribute to this research effort! These adventures are managed by Richard Sears.
C$2,965 1-week session
C$5,630 2-week session
All inclusive (lodging, meals, transportation)
Based on double occupancy [add $230 / week for single occupancy]
Research Adventures in the Azores Archipelagos (End-April until Beginning-May)
The Azores have a generally sunny, mild climate with occasional showers. Because they are in the middle of the Atlantic their waters include many resident and transient species. This session is geared to learn more about eastern North Atlantic blue whales, who pass by the Azores on their way North to Icelandic and Norwegian waters. Our fieldwork includes photo-identification, behavioral observations, and acoustic recordings with regard to the study of eastern North Atlantic blue whale ecology. Because the focus is on blue whales, when they are present we will concentrate our efforts on blues and not spend as much time with other species. The Azores offer a very rich open ocean environment created by mixing of various water masses against the islands. We use 8-9m hard-bottom inflatables and require a minimum of 5 participants for us to offer this program, while groups cannot exceed a total 9 participants.
Sperm whales, Risso's dolphins, and common dolphins can be seen regularly, and along with blues other rorquals such as humpbacks, fin, sei, and minke whales can be observed. Orcas, pilot whales and beaked whales, can also be sighted, not to mention turtles, shearwaters, and teaming planktonic life in the surface waters.
All included (lodging, meals, transportation)
Azores - Pico Island
Secure your place with a deposit of $500