MONTREAL -- A very rare visitor to Montreal decided to spend another day in the area near the Jacques Cartier Bridge, as the humpback whale that swam to the area Saturday meandered its way down the river Sunday.

Experts hope it goes home soon.

Humpback whales are often spotted in the river hundreds of kilometres east near Tadoussac.

This one, however, was followed as it headed west from Quebec City earlier in the week. In all the years of monitoring marine wildlife, experts have never seen a humpback this far west.

It could mean the animal is in trouble.

“It’s a big whale that lives in the ocean and right now the reason might be that this whale is disoriented or sick,” said McGill University Ph.D candidate in marine biology Anais Remili. “That’s why it ended up here because it never hangs out around Montreal usually.”

“Their bodies are really adapted to be in marine environment, so in salty water,” said Marie-Eve Muller of the Quebec Marine Mammal Emergency Response Network. “So, in the long term, of course it’s not good for the health of the animal to be in fresh water, but for right now, the major threat is mostly being in such an urban area.”

The whale is being followed by an entourage including the network and Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

They are ensuring local boaters give the whale at least 100 metres of space, and hope the whale finds its way back to saltier waters soon.