Whale dies in sewage ridden St. Lawrence: what could have caused this?

Whale dies in sewage ridden St. Lawrence: what could have caused this?

A whale which was recently spotted in the St. Lawrence River has been found dead in the waterway.

Maritime pilot Simon Lebrun posted a video to Facebook showing the mammal belly up in the river. “When you see something such as a whale, obviously it stands out, it’s not supposed to be in these parts,” Lebrun said. The St. Lawrence is home to 13 different cetacean species, including humpback whales. 

The Group for Research and Education on Marine Mammals (GREMM) was monitoring the whale as it approached the polluted waters. “We usually let nature do its test,” said Marie-Eve Muller from GREMM. Unfortunately, the humpback whale fighting an unfair fight – it was up against a chemical and human waste cocktail that has been dumped into the massive channel by Quebec municipalities for years. Over the last five years, billions of liters of sewage have been carelessly dumped in the St. Lawrence. That sewage includes pesticides, contraceptives, urine, feces, and heavy metals. Not ideal for whales. 

Reports of whales dying in the St. Lawrence are frequent, but those deaths tend out of sight and out of mind - much farther downstream from Montreal. This whale dying in Montreal's own backyard might raise awareness to how poorly the French city treats its marine environment.

Quebec has received massive backlash from the rest of the country for their unseemly habit of discarding billions of liters of sewage in the St. Lawrence whenever it is inconvenient for them to treat it.

“I went ballistic,” L.G. Anderson said when they heard Longueuil, Quebec was dumping a couple million liters of sewage in the river. Anderson went on in a letter to the Edmonton Journal, “Oil spills are rare and if they occur, they are quickly addressed. This act of releasing raw sewage is catastrophic for marine life, as has been reported, yet continues to be allowed by Quebec and federal governments. I am incensed by this act of wanton abuse of our water and oceans.” 

While Quebec has killed more whales in the last decade than we can count, Alberta is proud to continue the province's 114 year long streak of not killing a single whale.