Mingan Island
Cetacean Study

MICS Information

MICS is a non-profit research organization which invites the public to participate in the ecological studies of marine mammals. Our aim is not to offer just another whale-watch, we want you to have the opportunity totake part and contribute to our research.

Beginning in 1979, with the Mingan Islands as the principal study area, we were the first to carry out extensive research of cetaceans along the Quebec North Shore from the Saguenay River to the Strait of Belle Isle.

MICS offers educational programs(Research Expeditions) to the public from June to October. Their purpose is to help finance the research and enhance the public's awareness of marine mammals in their natural habitat. MICS expanded its research effort to the Sea of Cortez, Baja California (Mexico), in 1983. Here, as in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, we offer the public educational research programs oriented towards marine mammals.


The research focuses on the local populations of blue, humpback, finback,and minke whales, with complementary studies of the North Atlantic white-sided and white-beaked dolphins. MICS is best known as the first organization in the world to have carried out long term studies of the blue whale. Through photo-identification techniques developed by MICS, a catalogue of over 300 blue whales now exists for the northwest Atlantic.

MICS has contributed data, photographs, and field expertise towards the identification of more than 6000 humpback whales from the northwest Atlantic, in collaboration with Allied Whale, Bar Harbor, Maine, the Center for Costal Studies, Provincetown, Massachusetts, and Greenlandic Fisheries, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Data on Blue Whale Contamination

The research initiated in the Sea of Cortez in 1983 has enabled us to study the northeast Pacific blue whale population in one of its wintering areas. By photographically cataloguing individuals from that region, we have established the first migratory link for this species between the wintering grounds and summer feeding areas-Sea of Cortez to Northern California. This work is supplemented by studies of the Bryde's,humpback, finback, and killer whales found in the area.

MICS will also be a major participant in WhaleNet's Satellite Tagging Observation Program. MICS researchers will assist in the tagging of blue, fin, and humpback whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Satellite Tagging Observation Program (STOP)

WhaleNet will coordinate the Satellite Tagging Observation Program (STOP) to enable students to participate with scientists in unique research using advanced technologies. Students and educators can work in conjunction with international research organizations such as the Mingan Island Cetacean Study in Longue Pointe de Mingan, Quebec; the New England Aquarium in Boston, Massachusetts; and Allied Whale at the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine, in a unique program using advanced satellite technology and telecommunications to monitor and research the actual migration patterns and movements of selected species of whales throughout the oceans of the world.


Our sessions offer the public the opportunity to get away to the solitude of the sea and immerse themselves in an educational adventure.

The cornerstone of our educational programs is the 5 to 10 day session, during which each summer nature enthusiasts canparticipate in our research and observe the world's largest animals. During your stay, your home will be the coastal village of Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan, the gateway to the Mingan Islands. These islands, now a national park, are within three miles of shore and are renowned for their distinctive limestone rock formations carved by ice and sea. Participants will be introduced to the rookeries of sea birds, such as Atlantic puffins, Arctic terns, razorbills and eiderducks, to name but a few, and to the unique geology and flora of this archipelago.

Early each morning you will join experienced field biologists aboard 24ft inflatable boats and travel out through the islands. As we head offshore to the domain of the great whales you will be greeted by grey seals hauled out on ledges, harbor porpoise scurrying along in small groups, and extensive rafts of sea birds.

We are certain that experiencing the graceful breach of a 40-ton humpbackwhale, a close encounter with an 85-foot blue whale, or being engulfed in a herd of 300 white-sided dolphins will leave a lasting impression.

You do not have to have special knowledge or skills to come on our trips, whether or not you actively participate in the research is up to you. If you simply want to observe and photograph the marine mammals and birds, it is your vacation, you decide.

Whether you seek adventure, knowledge, or simply want to relax in tranquil surroundings, we are certain that you will live the experience you desire as part of our expeditions.

All MICS sessions include room and board, except for the day trips.


During the summer of 1992 we inaugurated a new research and interpretation building, which houses a museum, a 50 person theater, and our offices. Through the museum exhibits we offer the public acomplement to our field research and a more complete view of our studies of marine mammals. We show you how these animals live beneath the surface through painted murals, full size skeletons and models, and a myriad photographs. Naturalists and researchers are on hand to answer your questions and present slide shows and videos on the general biology and ongoing research of marine mammals found in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Academic credit is available through WhaleNet and Wheelock College in Boston, Massachusetts. Contact Professor Michael Williamson, for details in the CTA 592: Field Studies in Marine Science course.


Our blue whale adoption program enables the public to learn about and participate in blue whale research through the individual that they have adopted. Foster parents receive membership in MICS, an 8x10 photograph, sighting records oftheir whale, and a 20x30" blue whale poster. The funds collected through this program provide vital support for the research effort.

MICS Page in Quebec


Picture of a mailbox) Richard Sears, Executive Director
Winter: MICS, 285 Green St., St. Lambert, Quebec J4P 1T3 Canada
Summer: MICS, 124 Bord de la Mer, Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan, Quebec G0G 1V0 Canada, (418)949-2845

new email: rsblues@polysoft.com
tel: (514) 948-3669
fax: (514) 948-1131

J. Michael Williamson, Associate Director
email: williams@whale.wheelock.edu
MICS USA: MICS, 20 Moynihan Rd., So. Hamilton, MA 01982

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