A small group of islands in the Gulf of St. Lawrence has been given big recognition by National Geographic as one of the top 25 travel destinations for 2020.
Officially part of Quebec, but geographically closer to the Maritimes, the Magdalen Islands are lauded by the publication primarily for its harp seal nursery, one of three Northwest Atlantic harp seal pupping grounds.
“Adult seals migrate here from the Arctic, the pregnant females searching for suitable ice to birth on, and males follow, eager to mate,” the publication says. “The pups are born on the ice in late February and early March.”
And these seal pups, it continues, “are one of the most captivating creatures on the planet, with obsidian eyes, charcoal nose, and cloud-soft fur.”
The magazine encourages people to check out the area for themselves to “see a beautiful but diminishing world of ice” — and the harp seals that depend on it.
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“When you walk on sea ice, it’s easy to forget that there’s an ocean below you,” the publication states. “This frozen world is stripped down to essentials: impossibly blue sky, bright sun bouncing off a blanket of fresh snow, wind that vibrates like a cello, whiteness all around.”
To witness this first-hand, National Geographic recommends people travel to the region between February and March, and connect with Liveaboard boat expeditions, which offer “the luxury of time with the harp seals above and below the sea ice.”
For another perspective, the magazine notes that Madelinot hotel runs small-group excursions via helicopter.