Sighting of the Month – Salt!

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October’s sighting of the month goes to Cape Ann Whale Watch who have been catching up with a number of well-known humpback whales off Gloucester Massachusetts in the Gulf of Maine.

This particular trip started with some incredible looks at a whale called Bungee and her calf. Next they caught up with a whale called Owl, and were amazed when she surprisingly breached! She then continued to display a variety of different surface behaviours including flipper slapping, tail breaching and lob-tailing.

They finished the trip with a special sighting of the Great Dame of the Gulf of Maine population of humpback whales, Salt. This is only the second time this season they have caught up with this whale!

Salt is a special whale and was the first whale to be given a name. Not only does she have 14 calves, she is one of the first known grandmothers and is now one of seven known great-grandmothers! She is considered one of the most sighted, and loved, whales in the world.

Cynde Mcinnis from Cape Ann Whale Watch tells us a little more about this iconic whale.

‘Salt is considered by most to be the “grand old lady of the North Atlantic.” She was one of the first whales that was named in 1976—named after the white pattern on her dorsal fin. (The other whale she was often seen with was given the name Pepper.) Salt has been sighted almost every single year since then. She has come back to Stellwagen Bank with 14 calves, which is the most of any whale we have been following. We don’t know how many calves a humpback whale will have in their lifetime—here 14 is the most! It’s always a treat to see her.

At Cape Ann Whale Watch, we usually see her once or twice a summer and often on the southern part of Stellwagen Bank. This year we spent most of our season on the southern part of Jeffreys Ledge, so it was more of a surprise to see Salt there. Perhaps she will come back with a calf next year?

Many of the whales we saw this summer haven’t had calves since 2016 (the year of Salt’s last calf). Whales like Salt have taught us that they calves every two or three years. We look forward to following her in the years to come and learning even more from her and the amazing humpbacks in the North Atlantic.


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