While whales are present in every ocean, it is in the St. Lawrence that the largest number of great whales along with numerous species of smaller ones may be found. Humpback whales (15m), fin whales (20m) and the world’s largest mammal, the blue whale (30m, 140 tons) are regular visitors to Charlevoix’s coastline, drawn by the abundance of food. Oxygenated by the cold Labrador currents, the estuary’s waters are rich in krill and smaller fish that whales love. Whale-watching cruises departing from the docks of Saint-Siméon, Baie Sainte-Catherine or Tadoussac, take visitors out to admire these giants of the sea in their natural habitat and to discover the legendary lighthouses that have long stood watch over the St. Lawrence. Warm clothing is a must. Whale watching activities in the Parc marin Saguenay – Saint-Laurent (“Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park”) are governed by the Regulations of Marine Activities condensed into a document that may be obtained at Charlevoix’s tourist information centers.
Before boarding a cruise ship in Baie Sainte-Catherine, visit the observation and interpretation centre at Pointe-Noire, a facility of the Parc marin Saguenay – Saint-Laurent Discovery Network featuring information on marine environments and mammals and superb views of the Saguenay River flowing past steep-rising cliffs. A succession of coves, bays and points stretches out as far as the horizon forming the rugged and impressive landscape that has attracted visitors in the region from as far back as the 19th century. Fjord cruises are also available from the docks at Baie-Sainte-Catherine and Tadoussac.