The marine park was originally created to protect the beluga whale. It’s a great place to learn about marine mammals and birds, as well as the region’s history and its many natural treasures. You can learn about them from on land or on the water, and by visiting the interpretation centres.
Renaud Pintiaux / ©Parcs Canada
According to Marie-Sophie Giroux, Partnership, Engagement and Communication Officer for the Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park Field Unit, “the marine park encompasses a 1,245-km2 area in the Saguenay Fjord and a large part of the St. Lawrence Estuary. This highly biodiverse environment is home to such at-risk species as the St. Lawrence beluga.” Starting in the 1970s, citizen engagement and public consultations led to the creation of the Marine Park. It’s the first marine protected area in Québec, and is jointly managed by the federal government through Parks Canada, and by the Québec government through Sépaq, the acronym for the Société des établissements de plein air du Québec.
The marine park conducts education, awareness and research activities jointly with collaborators and users to safeguard endangered species and better protect the marine environment. It also develops responsible and sustainable activities to provide a variety of experiences for visitors, who can choose between: sea excursions on boats, kayaks, zodiacs and even ferries, specifically for the purpose of observing marine mammals.
The land-based portion of the Marine Park Discovery Network is made up of municipalities, non-profit organizations, government agencies and interpretive centres, each with its own theme. The network offers experiences that complement the park’s activities, with a focus on observing and learning about the marine environment.
Three Parks Canada Interpretation and Observation Centres
These three centres provide visitors with amazing insights into the Marine Park, where “interpreter-guides tell us about everything there is to see in the ocean. They help us dive a little deeper into understanding and being aware of this environment.”
The Cap-de-Bon-Désir Interpretation and Observation Centre in Les Bergeronnes is located in a lighthouse “that has a long history as a marine navigation aid. Today, it’s a great place to observe seabirds and marine mammals: seals and, of course, the famous whales.
Marie Isabelle Rochon / ©Parcs Canada
Either on scuba diving or “Nordic snorkeling” expeditions, or by touring the exhibitions, visitors can see some of North America’s most beautiful underwater scenery at the renowned Marine Environment Discovery Centre in Les Escoumins.
R. Laroque / ©Parcs Canada
In the Charlevoix region’s Baie-Sainte-Catherine, the Pointe-Noire Interpretation and Observation Centre has a great view of the mouth of the Saguenay Fjord, which is a great place to spot belugas from shore.
Michel Caron / ©Parcs Canada
A secret place or a treasure to be shared?
To this question, Marie-Sophie Giroux replies: “I love reading on the rocks, where I can smell the salty sea air and catch a glimpse of a minke whale or beluga passing by, hear the cries of seagulls and other sea birds. That’s what it means to me to be immersed in the marine environment. My own secret spot is the Pointe de l’Islet in Tadoussac. If there are too many people, I make a short detour to Pointe Rouge on Baie de Tadoussac. It too has an amazing view of the bay, the fjord and the sunset.”
Éric Lajeunesse / ©Parcs Canada
Rédaction : Christine Gilliet (Mots et marées)
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