Paddling with Whales, August 2002

Disclaimer: The following Trip Report was written in August 2002 and is re-presented here for new paddling ideas and general interest. However, the specific trip details such as boat launch, parking, and other such things should be confirmed and reverified before following this route.

by: Bob Arledge

Last Labor Day Dorry Shaw, Laura Blutstein, Charles Duncan and I went up to the St. Lawrence River, near the mouth of the Saguenay River, to paddle with whales.  We had a good time, but whales were a little thin on the ground.  This year they were not.  Dennis Leiner, Bruce Clary, Jon Swan and I went up there this Independence Day and we saw a lot of whales. 

We left Portland in the afternoon of Wednesday July 5th and drove up beyond Quebec City that evening.  We stayed in a charming motel that was decorated in a quaint Soviet labor-camp motif.  We arrived at Tadoussac at the mouth of the Saguenay River late Thursday morning.  We picked up some food and headed up to the Paradis Marin Campground. 

After we set up our tents we went out for a paddle.  It was not long before a minke whale came along heading north parallel to the shore.  As I paddled along, the whale surfaced every two or three minutes, sometimes as close as 30 feet.  Over the next few days we saw so many minkes that when someone heard a blow someone would say “it’s only a minke.”  The whales came in as close as 100 feet from the shore of the campground.  While we were there we saw lots of belugas, a couple of finbacks and a sperm whale.  We also saw harbor porpoises, harbor seals, grey seals and Greenland seals.  On Saturday when we drove up the Saguenay River, we missed a humpback whale that cruised past the campground.  

After we returned to the campground Saturday we went for a paddle.  A number of other kayakers from the campground were also out.  There was no wind at all and the sea was glassy.  In the space of less than ten minutes the wind ramped up to thirty knots.  Everyone headed for the beach, but one woman got blown over.  We had an opportunity to practice an assisted rescue just like we have done in the pool sessions. Dennis has posted his pictures from the trip on his website at  There is a website that provides weekly reports of the number, type and location of whales sited in the area.