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Baby Harp Seals in the Magdalen Islands

I have been an animal lover since childhood. Perhaps it goes back to the days when my father, a watch designer, would go on his yearly business trips to Switzerland, and come home with a lovely Swiss-made stuffed animal to add to my collection. 

This animal fascination has always stayed with me and has inspired me to pursue more off the beaten path animal adventures. In 2017 I attended a lecture at the Explorers Club in New York City by a marine biologist who studies Harp seals in the Gulf of St Lawrence, Canada. During mating season, females form large colonies and baby seals are born on pack ice floating in the North Atlantic and Arctic Ocean for 3 weeks in Feb/March. Due to global warming, causing the sea ice to break up, she strongly suggested in ten years they may not be around. There are only three places in the world they live: Russia, Greenland and Canada. So off to the Magdalen Islands in Canada I went!  

My 5-night Harp seal journey included a beautiful 2-night pre-trip at the Ritz Carlton in Montreal, a beautiful massage started the day and a visit to the Musee des beaux-arts de Montreal, which is a gem that should not be missed! An afternoon walk through Old Montreal with its charming cafes and shops was a definite hot-cocoa relief from the cold. Just like Europe, dinner in Montreal is an unforgettable experience filled with culinary delights and fun interior design details such as the Portuguese inspired restaurant, Ferreira

Now for the adventure… it’s a 40-minute helicopter flight from the Magdalen Islands to reach the Harp seal colonies in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. When the engines shut off and you step out, it’s mind blowing to think you are standing on less than a foot of sea ice. As far as the eye can see, mothers and their pups known as “white coats” which describes their soft new fur are sprinkled along the landscape. They are very blubbery from their mother’s high-fat milk, as they need to gain weight quickly to adapt to their harsh environment. If a protective mother doesn’t bark at you, you can come right up to these balls of fluff and pet them. 

If you’re looking for an unusual animal adventure in North America, that’s off-the-beaten-path, I would love to plan this trip of a lifetime for you. Remember it only happens 3 weeks out of the year.

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