Algoma joins whale conservation efforts

Algoma Central Corporation is adding the crews from 27 of its vessels to an expanding network of whale watchers. For the first time, the crews on Algoma’s self-unloaders, bulkers, tankers and cement carriers will collect data about the whales they see on their journeys this summer.

“Algoma is committed to providing sustainable and environmentally responsible marine transportation,” said Gregg Ruhl, Algoma’s Chief Operating Officer. “Taking part in this conservation initiative and bringing the power of our fleet to gather more data and better understand the whereabouts of marine mammals will support research that can help minimize our environmental impact.”

The data collection, led by the Marine Mammal Observation Network (MMON) and supported by Green Marine, now encompasses more than 50 vessels, along with observations made from shorelines and ferries in Matane, Godbout, Baie-Comeau, Rivière-du-Loup, Trois-Pistoles and Les Escoumins and through an evolving collaboration with marine pilots.

Special training was provided to Algoma vessel captains earlier this year and information provided to crews to raise awareness about the different marine mammals that could be encountered and to acquire more knowledge about these animals. Many of Algoma’s vessels operate in the Saint Lawrence Estuary, where they may come across beluga, harbor porpoise, minke, blue, fin and humpback whales. Several vessels also navigate in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and on the Canadian and U.S. East Coast, where they could also come across dolphins, pilot whales and North Atlantic right whales.

MMON initiated the maritime industry’s participation in the data collection about marine mammals in 2015 with Groupe Desgagnés and Canada Steamship Lines, a division of the CSL Group. Green Marine subsequently became a part of the project financed by the Government of Canada through its Habitat Stewardship for Species at Risk program to develop the required training materials and facilitate networking with shipowners. The collected data is disseminated publicly here.

“Algoma’s participation almost doubles the number of vessels taking part in the whale watching initiative,” said Véronique Nolet, Green Marine’s Program Manager responsible for training crews to identify whales and report sightings. “The additional observations by Algoma’s crews will lead to more reliable data for both the scientific community and the maritime industry operating within these waters.”

Maritime Editorial