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First-time intercourse between two male humpback whales

  • Photographers capture whales mating
  • Both humpbacks identified as males
  • Rare marine behavior documented

The “once-in-a-lifetime encounter” occurred in the waters near Maui, Hawaii, while two photographers were out photographing. A marine biologist quickly noticed something peculiar about the images.

For the first time, photographers have captured images of humpback whales engaging in sexual activity; the two mammals involved were males.

Scientists have been captivated by the behaviour of humpbacks for decades. However, the authors of a study published this week claim to have uncovered the first images of the species engaging in penetrative intercourse.

It was composed by marine biologist Stephanie Stack and Lyle Krannichfeld and Brandi Romano, the two photographers who documented the encounter.

They described the entire discovery as “opportunistic,” as the whales “slowly approached” the photographers’ boat in January 2022 while they were out in waters west of the Hawaiian island of Maui.

The photographs depict a robust and healthy male cetacean penetrating another that appears injured or weakened, according to the study.

The mammals, which typically measure between 12 and 16 metres in length, “several times” encircled the vessel, with the whale in better condition “pursuing” the other.

Unprecedented Whales Encounter Documented

The sexual encounter occurred after the healthy whale secured the other with its pectoral flippers after approximately thirty minutes.

The authors hypothesised that the malnourished whale might have approached the vessel in search of refuge with its companion.

They stated that the likelihood of same-sex sexual activity between two healthy males is unknown.

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Krannichfeld stated that as soon as they examined the photographs upon their return to shore, they realised they had documented “a once-in-a-lifetime encounter.”

“Whales play a significant role in our daily lives on Maui,” he told NBC News, Sky’s US partner.

“Those who are involved with them or take photographs of them come to the realisation that that has never been documented.

Mating and childbirth are the two primary phenomena that remain relatively enigmatic.

Ms. Stack, upon receiving the photographs, confirmed that both whales were male.

Similar behaviour to the present has been documented in the animal kingdom before, including grey seals, Amazon river dolphins, and walruses, according to the study.

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