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First Ever Photo of Two Male Humpback Whales Having Sex

First Ever Photo of Two Male Humpback Whales Having Sex
First-ever photo of two male humpback whales having sex. Credit: Marine Mammal Science / CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Researchers have recently observed something never previously witnessed by humans. They observed two male humpback whales engaging in penetrative sex. This rare event took place near Maui, Hawaii in January 2022.

A group of citizen scientists aboard a private boat spotted the adult whales during their expedition. One of the whales appeared to be a different color than usual, catching the observers’ attention. They quickly deployed underwater cameras to document the encounter.

What they recorded was unprecedented. It was the first documented instance of one male humpback whale genitally penetrating itself into the other, as reported by Live Science.

In a study published on Tuesday, February 27th in the journal Marine Mammal Science, researchers stated, “This is the first report of penetration by a humpback whale and the first report of sexual activity between two male humpback whales.”

Forceful sexual intercourse on injured whale

The study says that the whales circled the boat for about thirty minutes. During this time, one of the humpbacks, identified as Whale B, seemed to be chasing the other, Whale A.

Whale A appeared to be in poor health, showing signs of emaciation and a significant jaw injury. Additionally, it was covered in whale lice, which are parasites indicating poor health.

This explains the unusual brownish color observed by citizen scientists at the beginning of the encounter. In contrast, Whale B looked healthy.

Throughout the entire encounter, Whale B had its penis extruded from its usual hiding place inside the genital slit. The researchers noted that Whale B repeatedly approached Whale A from the rear and penetrated the second whale. It seemed like Whale B held Whale A in place with its pectoral fins.

‘Whale A’ felt threatened and turned in “S” shape

In response to Whale B’s advances, Whale A contorted its body into an “S” shape. Previous research indicates that humpback whales in Hawaii adopt this posture when they feel threatened or stressed.

In their study, the researchers suggested that Whale A’s adoption of the “S” shape posture could indicate unwelcome behavior. However, they also proposed that Whale A might have lacked the energy to engage in avoidance strategies.

Despite attempting to slowly swim away from Whale B, Whale A did not make any sudden or powerful movements and did not dive out of sight during the encounter.

The study revealed that after Whale B had penetrated Whale A several times, Whale B dove underwater and did not return to the surface. Following this, Whale A remained visible for a short while before also disappearing beneath the waves. While the exact cause of Whale A’s jaw injury remains uncertain, researchers believe it could potentially be the consequence of a collision with a ship.

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