Veronique Lesage

Research scientist

Research on Conservation and Biology of Marine Mammals

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Current research and/or projects

Dr. Véronique Lesage joined the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in 2000, as a research scientist working on cetaceans in the Quebec region. She is a member of the committee of scientific advisors for the Society of Marine Mammalogy, and of the research groups Quebec Ocean and Arcticnet. Dr. Lesage has been studying marine mammals since 1990. Her past research has examined habitat use and foraging ecology of harbour seals in Atlantic Canada, and effects of manmade noise and vessel traffic on beluga whales in both the St Lawrence Estuary and northern Quebec (Nunavik).Current research involves studies on trophic relationships, foraging ecology, spatial use and movements of beluga whales, fin whales, blue whales and harbour porpoises, population dynamics of beluga whales, harbour porpoise-commercial fisheries interactions, and effects of manmade noise and vessel traffic on beluga, and blue whales

Research and/or project statements

Professional activities / interests

Professor at:

  • Laval University, Quebec
  • University of Quebec in Rimouski, ISMER

Education and awards

M.Sc. Biology (1994) Laval University, Qubec

Ph.D. Biology (1999) University of Waterloo, Ontario

B.Sc. Biology (1990) Laval University, Quebec

Key publications

Primary Publications:

  1. Lesage, V. & M. C. S. Kingsley. 1998. Updated status of the St Lawrence River population of the Beluga, Delphinapterus leucas. Canadian-Field Naturalist 112(1): 98-113
  2. Lesage, V., Barrette C. & M. C. S. Kingsley. 1999. The effect of noise from an outboard motor and a ferry on the vocal activity of beluga (Delphinapterus leucas) in the St Lawrence Estuary, Canada. Marine Mammal Science 15(1): 65-84
  3. Hammill, M. O., V. Lesage, G. Lobb, P. Carter and F. Voegeli. 1999. A remote release mechanism to recover time-depth-recorders from marine mammals. Marine Mammal Science 15(2): 584-588
  4. Lesage, V., M. O. Hammill & K. M. Kovacs. 1999. Classification of harbour seal dives using depth profile, swimming velocity and an index of foraging success. Canadian Journal of Zoology 77: 74-87
  5. Pillet, S., V. Lesage, M. Hammill, D. Cyr, J.-M. Bouqueneau, and M. Fournier. 2000. Effects of mercury and zinc on phagocytic activity of peripheral blood leukocytes of two species of seals from the St Lawrence Estuary. Marine Pollution Bulletin 40(11): 921-927
  6. Lesage, V., M. O. Hammill and K.M. Kovacs. 2001. Marine mammals and the community structure of the Gulf and Estuary regions of the St Lawrence (Canada). Marine Ecology Progress Series 210: 203-221
  7. Lesage, V., and M.O. Hammill. 2001. The status of the Grey seal (Halichoerus grypus) in the Northwest Atlantic. Canadian Field-Naturalist 115(4): 653-662
  8. Lesage, V., M.O. Hammill, and K.M. Kovacs. 2002. Diet-tissue fractionation of stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes in phocid seals. Marine Mammal Science 18(1): 182-193
  9. Hammill, M.O., V. Lesage, and M.C.S. Kingsley. 2003. Correspondence: Cancer in Beluga from the St. Lawrence Estuary, Quebec, Canada. Environmental Health Perspectives 111(2): A77-A78
  10. Hammill, M.O., V. Lesage, J.-F. Gosselin, H. Bourdages, B. De March, and M.C.S. Kingsley. 2004. Evidence for a decline in northern Quebec (Nunavik) beluga. Arctic 57(2): 183-195
  11. Lesage, V., Hammill, M.O., and K.M. Kovacs. 2004. Long distance movements of harbour seals from a seasonally ice-covered area, the St Lawrence River estuary, Canada. Canadian Journal of Zoology 82(7): 1070-1081
  12. Hammill, M.O., V. Lesage, F. and P. Carter. 2005. What do harp seals eat? Comparing diet reconstructions from different compartments of the digestive tract with diets estimated from stable isotope ratios. Canadian Journal of Zoology 83: 1365-1372
  13. Lesage, V., J. Keays, S. Turgeon, and S. Hurtubise. 2006. Bycatch of harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) in the gillnet fishery of the Estuary and Gulf of St Lawrence, 20002002. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management 8(1): 67-78
  14. Hammill, M.O., V. Lesage, P. Richard, and P. Hall. 2007. A response to 'Sentients being and wildlife resources: Inuit, beluga whales and management regimes in the Canadian Arctic. Human Ecology 35: 639-640
  15. Lewis, A., M.O. Hammill, Power, D.W. Doidge and V. Lesage. 2009. Movement and aggregation of Eastern Hudson Bay beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas): a comparison of patterns found through satellite telemetry and Nunavik traditonal ecological knowledge. Arctic 62:13-24
  16. Dufresne, M.M., Frouin,H., Pillet, S., Hammill, M.O., Lesage, V., De Guise, S., and Fournier, M. 2010. Comparative sensitivity of two species of seals to several environmental contaminants using in vitro exposure. Marine Pollution Bulletin 60: 344-349
  17. Bailleul, F., Lesage, V., and Hammill, M.O. 2010. Spherical first-passage time: a tool to investigate area-restricted search in three-dimensional movements. Ecological Modelling 221: 1665-1673
  18. Archambault, P., Snelgrove, P., Fisher, J.A.D., Gagnon, J.-M., Garbary, D. J., Harvey, M., Kenchington, E., Lesage, V., Levesque, M., Lovejoy, C., Mackas, D. McKindsey, C.W., Nelson, J., Pépin, P., Piché, L., Poulin, M. 2010. From Sea to Sea: Canada's Three Oceans of Biodiversity. PLoS ONE 5(8):e12182. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0012182
  19. Lesage, V., Morin, Y., Rioux, E., Pomerleau, C., Ferguson, S., Pelletier, E. 2010. Stable isotopes and trace metals as indicators of diet and habitat use in cetaceans: predicting errors related to preservation, lipid extraction and normalization. Marine Ecology Progress Series 419: 249-265. doi: 10.3354/meps08825
  20. Doniol-Valcroze, T., Lesage, V., Giard, J., Michaud, R. In press. Optimal foraging theory predicts diving and feeding strategies of the largest marine predator. Behavioural Ecology

Secondary Publications:

  1. Lesage, V. & M. C. S. Kingsley. 1995. Bilan des connaissances de la population de bélugas (Delphinapterus leucas) du Saint-Laurent. Rapport technique canadien des sciences halieutiques et aquatiques 2041: vii + 44 p
  2. Lesage, V., M. O. Hammill & K. M. Kovacs. 1995. Harbour seal (Phoca vitulina) and grey seal (Halichoerus grypus) abundance in the St Lawrence Estuary. Canadian Manuscript Report of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 2307: iii + 19 p
  3. Hammill, M.O., V. Lesage, Y. Dubé, and L. Measures. 2001. Oil and gas exploration in the southeastern Gulf of St Lawrence: a review of information on pinnipeds and cetaceans in the area. Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat, Res. Doc. 2001/115. 39 pp.
  4. Gosselin, J.-F., V. Lesage, and A. Robillard. 2001. Population index estimate for the beluga of the St Lawrence River estuary in 2000. Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat, Res. Doc. 2001/049. 21 pp.
  5. Lesage, V., D.W. Doidge, and R. Fibich. 2001. Harvest statistics for beluga whales in Nunavik, 1974–2000. Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat, Res. Doc. 2001/022. 35 pp.
  6. Gosselin, J.-F., V. Lesage, M.O. Hammill, and H. Bourdages. 2002. Abundance indices of beluga in James Bay, eastern Hudson Bay, and Ungava Bay in summer 2001. Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat, Res. Doc. 2002/042. 27 pp.
  7. Bourdages, H., V. Lesage, M.O. Hammill, and B. De March. 2002. Impact of harvesting on population trends of beluga in eastern Hudson Bay. Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat, Res. Doc. 2002/036. 45 pp.
  8. Lesage, V. and M.O. Hammill. 2003. Proceedings of the workshop on the development of research priorities for the northwest Atlantic blue whale population. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Proceed. Ser. 2003/031. 35 pp
  9. Lesage, V., J. Keays, S. Turgeon, and S. Hurtubise. 2004. Incidental mortality of harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) in the gillnet fishery of the Estuary and Gulf of St Lawrence in 20002002. Canadian Technical Report of the Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 2552: 37 pp
  10. Hammill, M.O., Lesage, V., and J.-F. Gosselin. 2005. Abundance of eastern Hudson Bay belugas. Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat. Res. Doc. 2005/010. 17 p.
  11. Lesage, V., and D.W. Doidge. 2005. Harvest statistics for beluga whales in Nunavik, 1974–2004. Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat. Res. Doc. 2005/012.
  12. Robillard, V. Lesage, and M.O. Hammill. 2005. Distribution and abundance of harbour seals (Phoca vitulina concolor) and grey seals (Halichoerus grypus) in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence during 1994–2001. Can. Tech. Rep. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 2613: 152 pp
  13. Hammill, M.O., L.N. Measures, J.-F. Gosselin, and V. Lesage. 2007. Lack of recovery in St Lawrence Estuary beluga. CSAS Res. Doc. 2007/026.
  14. Gosselin, J.-F., M.O. Hammill and V. Lesage. 2007. Comparisons of photographic and visual abundance indices of belugas in the St Lawrence Estuary in 2003 and 2005. CSAS Doc. Res. 2007/025.
  15. Lesage, V., Gosselin, J.-F., Hammill, M.O., Kingsley, M.C.S., and J.W. Lawson. 2007. Ecologically and Biologically Significant Areas (EBSAs) in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence – A marine mammal perspective. CSAS Doc. Res. 2007/046
  16. Lesage, V., Baillargeon, D., Turgeon, S., and Doidge, D.W. 2009. Harvest statistics for beluga in Nunavik, 2005-2008. CSAS Doc. Res. 2009/007: 21 p
  17. Hammill, M.O., Kingsley, M.C.S., Lesage. V., Gosselin, J.-F. 2009. Abundance of Eastern Hudson Bay belugas. CSAS Doc. Res. 2009/009: 18 p
  18. Hammill, M.O., and Lesage, V. 2009. Seasonal movements and abundance of beluga in northern Quebec (Nunavik) based on weekly sightings information. CSAS Doc. Res. 2009/010: 14 p
  19. Mosnier, A., Lesage, V., Gosselin, J.-F., Lemieux Lefebvre, S., Hammill, M.O., Doniol-Valcroze, T. 2009. Information relevant to the documentation of habitat use by St. Lawrence beluga (Delphinapterus leucas), and quantification of habitat quality. CSAS Doc. Res. 2009/098: iv + 36 p
  20. Gosselin, J.-F., Lesage, V., Hammill, M.O. 2009. Index estimates of abundance for beluga in eastern Hudson Bay, James Bay, and Ungava Bay in summer 2008. CSAS Doc. Res. 2009/006: 25 p
  21. Doniol-Valcroze, T, Hammill, M. O. and Lesage, V. 2010. Harvest advice for Eastern Hudson Bay beluga (Delphinapterus leucas). DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Res. Doc. 2010/121. iv + 13 p