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The whirlpool is caused by local bathymetry and extreme tidal range where waters exchange between Passamaquoddy Bay and the Bay of Fundy, combined with the unusual topography of the location's sea floor at the confluence of the numerous local currents.
Though said to be named the "Old Sow" whirlpool because it makes sounds like the grunts like a pig, it is more likely that it was actually the "olde sough" or "old drain." Pronounced suff, over the years the pronunciation of the Dutch word probably shifted to pronounced like "sow" (much like the word plough, pronounced pluff, turning to plow) as did the spelling and backstory of its name. (Other smaller nearby whirlpools are now known as "piglets.")