There are now two whales in Montreal's St. Lawrence River

For the first time in more than a century, there are two whales in the waters off Montreal.

A second whale was spotted at around 12:30 p.m. Wednesday in the St. Lawrence River near the Maisonneuve neighbourhood.

It has joined another minke whale (pronounced "mink-ee"), which has been swimming in the waters outside Montreal since Monday.

A team from the Group for Research and Education on Marine Mammals (GREMM) is pursuing the whale in an effort to trace its movements, which has ventured nearly 400 kilometres from its natural habitat.

GREMM president Robert Michaud told CTV News the last time there were two whales in Montreal's waters was 121 years ago, in 1901.

"This second observation is even more surprising than the first. The presence of a minke whale in this portion of the river is already a rare event in itself," said Michaud in a Wednesday press release.

"This second animal raises questions for which we do not yet have a clear answer, hence the importance of documenting these cases carefully."

The group also said it may have already spotted the second whale near Trois-Rivieres on May 9.

Little is known about the first whale's new accomplice and anyone who sees it is asked to call the Marine Mammal Emergencies number at 1 (877) 722-5346.

STICKING TO THE PLAN

The second whale's appearance is surprising to research teams keeping an eye on the first, but it hasn't altered their plans to keep it safe. 

For now, surveillance will be maintained from the shore. Transport ships are regularly providing positioning information as researchers try to keep disturbances away from both of the animals.

"The intention is to give these two wild animals the best chance to find their way back and head back downstream," read a GREMM release. 

According to the group's Wednesday update, the first whale is in good health and is swimming close to the city's shoreline.

Researchers will be keeping a close eye on the whales' whereabouts following the death of the city's last aquatic visitor in 2020.

While the whales' appearance in Montreal might be exciting for onlookers and marine-life enthusiasts, neither of them are supposed to be there. 

"Freshwater is almost a hostile environment for a minke whale," Michaud told CTV earlier this week. "These animals usually swim in cold saltwater. They don’t encounter the pathogens or the algae that we find in a river like the St. Lawrence."

The first whale is likely no older than two years old and has grown to about 3.4 metres long. The GREMM has not yet released the dimensions of the second animal, but early observations suggest it would be small for an adult. 

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