Posted on december 18th, 2020
Author : Yohann Goyat
On December 17, 2020, an immersive audiobook dedicated to “Wild Sound of Canada” produced by Rotating Planet was released. Seven episodes are presented, including one highlighting the region of Quebec for which the village of Tadoussac was chosen. A documentary that immerses its listeners in magnificent unique sound wild landscapes bringing them as close as possible to a fauna as seldom has been recorded. This sound walk takes us to the depths of the St. Lawrence River as close as possible to the whales to the depths of the woods to hear the soft migratory song of the warblers.
Nature will never have taken back these rights as much as this year. The perfect moment to reconnect with her and to listen carefully to these actors who amaze us every season. What better way to do this than to surround yourself with local specialists to record this podcast. Meet those who have captured this sound ballad on water and on land in the wonderful bay of Tadoussac.
2020: A blessing
Eric Cyr, sound engineer, and Renaud Pintiaux, wildlife photographer and ornithologist, are two friends who have lived in Tadoussac for more than twenty years who have linked their strengths (to that of their friend Florence Anaïs) and their mutual love for nature, in order to record the slightest animal sounds representative of the Haute-Côte-Nord. “This year 2020 has been a blessing for us. Since the pandemic, animals have come out a lot more and regain their territory”, emphasizes Eric in wonder. “The month of June being the period of migration for birds, it was the ideal time to capture their songs”, adds Renaud, eternal lover of these birds since his young age. A duo that knows every nook and cranny, on land as well as on water, and which has been able to record with the greatest precision and in the greatest silence, certain sounds never before heard.
The story begins at the home port of Tadoussac. It is four o'clock in the morning, the fine morning mist still hides the St. Lawrence River, when Eric and Renaud board a sailboat. The water is calm, and the air rushes slowly into the sails until it reaches the Green island. Maritime traffic is at a standstill, Eric says with still emotion in his voice, having been "stunned by the silence". They will stay there for nearly three days to contemplate nature and observe the breath of the whales, armed only with their animal knowledge, a hydrophone probe and two other microphones.
A unique moment
Hearing pollution close to nothing that day on the water, Eric and Renaud had an astonishing encounter that marked them for life. Tic Tac Toe, a famous humpback whale in the region and loyal to the St. Lawrence for twenty years, has been observed with its fourth baby swimming alongside it. “We were far from them, but the underwater silence gave us the impression of being at their side. We recorded Tic Tac Toe and her baby talking to each other. It was a magical, surreal moment! “, describes Renaud with emotion.
Above the water, the time is still on pause, it is absolute calm. Not the slightest trace of an airplane in the sky nor of sea flow on this river so busy in normal times. Sea canaries (nickname given to Beluga whales) live up to their reputation by being numerous and talkative when in the distance the songs of humpback whales and other whales mix. “I felt like I was in a tropical forest because it was so noisy. It was the big party underwater!”, quips Eric still amazed. Until then, this sailor and sound engineer sailed with the wind and whale breeze, but had never set an attentive ear to underwater life. “This experience stopped me. It was a big first for me and even today I am still stunned to see how the sound contrast is striking”, he adds.
The paradise of warblers and other birds
Back on shore, the olive-backed thrushes sing of the sunrise. The fog is still low, we will have to let ourselves be guided by the sounds of the wild nature. In the distance the ferry sounds its departure when Eric and Renaud rush into the forest, this time to meet the birds that inhabit the dunes of Tadoussac Bay. Warblers are numerous and for good reason there are about thirty species in all of Quebec. “Spring is paradise for these little birds and the perfect time for us to observe them”, says Renaud. He has observed them for many years and knows exactly where to find them except for the stream warbler, known to be shy and fearful. As the sunset approaches, other species appear, such as frogs and toads, which start their din. "The absence of human presence greatly favors the return of these species to their territory, they are less shy. Nature is finally taking back its rights!” exclaims Renaud.
Beyond representing the Haute-Côte-Nord region, there is behind it all the deep desire to make listeners aware of the wonders of nature that we could have forgotten in the tumult of our lives. The underwater sound environment is important when it comes to the preservation of marine mammals, just like that of forests when it comes to migration, reproduction, etc. “This audio book is an opportunity to reconnect with nature and lead to reflections on oneself and on the region of Quebec that we love so much and that must be protected”, concludes Eric.
This immersive audio book is the perfect opportunity in these times of confinement to travel and visit the different regions of Canada, in particular that of Quebec. If travel is prohibited, dreaming and shivering while listening to wild nature is still free until proven otherwise. An audio book recorded by the locals themselves can only be a guarantee of quality. Listening to this wild nature reveals another facet of this beautiful country where the Saguenay Fjord meets the St. Lawrence River.
© RENAUD PINTIAUX