HUMPBACK WHALE SEASON
Salt Cay is one of the last places in the world where you can actually get in the water and snorkel with the Humpbacks. In 2010,we initiated a research project to determine if having snorkelers in the water with whales impact their behavior. The excursion lasts approx 3 hrs. We have two whale Naturalists on board to provide education about the Humpback whales as well as allowing you the opportunity to learn what behaviors we are monitoring and how to collect data. If the weather and the whales allow it, we gently slide into the water and snorkel with the whales. it is a thrill of a lifetime!
Salt Cay is considered "Whale Headquarters" from January to March each year. The little cay is directly in front of Columbus Passage where the Atlantic Humpbacks migrate to the Silver Banks, between the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Dominican Republic, to calve & mate. When scuba diving and snorkeling you can hear the mesmerizing songs from the Humpbacks. The beautiful songs assist them with their navigation.
Snorkeling with these huge whales during frequent "in-water encounters" is truly an awe inspiring experience. You can get an excellent view from the boat if you don't want to get in the water with them. Salt Cay is one of the last places in the world where you can actually swim with these magnificent creatures. We cannot guarantee the whales will be passing by on any given day, but we'll do everything to make sure you have an adventuresome holiday. Mothers and calves are frequent visitors to the waters off Salt Cay.
Click here to hear Whale Songs
As Humpback whales travel their seasonal migrations, whale watchers and scientists are provided excellent opportunities to observe these giants in action. Regularly swimming from their northern summer feeding grounds to southern breeding grounds, Humpbacks move slowly and jump almost fully out of the water, displaying to onlookers the full magnificence of their often 15-meter (50-foot) bodies. Unfortunately, it is this same predictability and playfulness that has made humpbacks easy targets for mass slaughter.
The main reason for the lengthy migration from the polar waters, where the whales feed on small fish and euphausiids (krill), to the tropical surroundings is to breed and calve in the winter months (Jan.-May). The whales don't arrive all at once in huge masses but flow in and out. Humpbacks prefer breeding waters of 75-degrees F, quiet bays and leeward sides of exposed reefs with a depth of 600 feet (100 fathoms) or less, and large banks wider than 2-3 miles.
After a gestation period of 10-12 months, the newborn calf is precocial - fully functional and able to move about on its own. The Humpback calf at birth, which stretches about 12 feet in length and weighs nearly two tons, feeds on the mother's high-protein milk (100-130 gallons per day) to grow approximately one foot per month on its way to doubling in overall length in one year. Since the calf is usually born in shallow, inshore areas free from predators, the mother stays close to its calf nudging and coaxing it to keep the curious youngster close by and for bonding reasons. A third escort whale, usually a sexually-active male, accompanies the mother and calf for less than a day.
watchers can double their excitement when the mothers and calves
are commonly sighted together in shallow waters immediately after
birth and then about two to three miles from shore a week later.
The amazing thing about these giant mammals is they keep their
personal life very personal. Not many humans have witnessed or
recorded (accurately) the actual birth of a humpback whale or
for that matter - two whales mating. It's hard to believe these
45-ft., 40-ton creatures can "hide" anything, but that's
what makes the nature of whales so fascinating.
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