Salt Cay is the second largest of the Turks Islands, one of the two island groups forming of the British territory Turks and Caicos Islands in the Caribbean.
Its size is 6.7442 km². The size of the district, which also includes some unpopulated islands like Cotton Cay (1.1252 km²) nearby, is 9.1 km². The population is 186 (est. 2006), all in the district capital Balfour Town on the west coast.
Salt Cay is a tiny, flat, triangular island measuring about 3.2 km (two miles) on a side and given over mostly to salt pans. It was once home to several hundred people, all supported by the salt industry.
The humpback whales of Salt Cay, Turks and Caicos Islands and Silver Bank are North Atlantic Humpback Whales, and are some of the same individuals one might encounter on a whale watching cruise off of Massachusetts' Stellwagan Bank, the coast of Maine, and further north into the waters of Iceland and Greenland, Newfoundland and the Gulf of Saint Lawrence.
Salt Cay, Turks and Caicos Islands is in the middle of the humpback whale’s annual migratory route to the Silver Banks, a humpback mating and nursery area, north of the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean Sea. It is a 75-square-mile (190 km2) shallow coral reef area, an underwater plateau of limestone. It is believed that the whales choose this area for birthing and nursing because of the numerous coral heads which break the surface providing protection from ocean swells. Some estimates show 3,000-5,000 humpback whales passing through the waters of the Silver Banks between December and mid-April each year, making it the largest breeding and calving grounds, often called a nursery, in the world.
Great Sand Cay, about 9 miles (14 km) south of Salt Cay, has been the “emergency room” to many expecting humpback whales through the years. Humpback whales born in the waters around Great Sand Cay and their mothers as well as other humpback whales are often spotted both by passengers on boats and from the shores of Salt Cay.
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