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Gay humpback whales pictured having sex in never-before-seen photos

Gay humpback whales pictured having sex in never-before-seen photos

Despite being closely studied, reports of sexual activity in humpback whales are rare

For the first time ever, scientists have photographs of humpback whales mating and the snaps have left them stunned for more than one reason.

Despite being closely studied for decades, reports of sexual activity in the magnificent creatures have been extremely rare and have never been captured on film. Until now, that is.

The groundbreaking images were captured by wildlife photographers, Lyle Krannichfeld and Brandi Romano, who were on a boat trip off the western coast of Maui, Hawaii back in January 2022.

The two humpback whales slowly approached their boat, which had its engine turned off, appearing just beneath the surface of the water.

One whale, dubbed Whale A, was closer to the boat as they approached it, followed by Whale B.

It is illegal in the United States to approach humpback whales, so Krannichfeld and Romano dangled their cameras over the edge of the boat before snapping away.

They soon noticed that Whale B had its penis extended.

Two whales were caught on camera getting down and dirty in never-before-seen images.
Lyle Krannichfeld and Brandi Romano

The penises of whales and dolphins are usually secreted away inside their bodies to maintain a streamlined shape, and males extrude their penis when ready to mate.

"Whale B repeatedly approached from the rear of Whale A and penetrated the second whale," the photographers reported in the journal article that described the encounter.

"After the final penetration, Whale B dove and did not reappear," they wrote. Whale A stuck around for a few minutes before also diving out of sight.

The entire affair lasted no more than 30 minutes.

Scientists were also stunned to learn that the two whales were male, having previously been unaware that humpback whales engaged in same-sex recreational activities.
Lyle Krannichfeld and Brandi Romano

On top of being the first ever pictures of humpback whales engaging in sexual activity, scientists said the two ocean giants appeared to both be male.

Before now, scientists were unaware that male humpback whales engaged in same-sex recreational activities.

Unfortunately, Whale A appeared to have been injured by a ship strike and its body language indicated that it may not have been a willing participant.

PhD student Stephanie Stack, who works at the Pacific Whale Foundation, got the photos when she was contacted by the two photographers.

Speaking to IFLScience, she said: "Despite being well studied for decades, the sexual behaviour of humpback whales has remained mostly a mystery until now.

"This discovery challenges our preconceived notions about humpback whale behaviour. While we have long recognised the complex social structures of these incredible creatures, witnessing the copulation of two male whales for the first time is a unique and remarkable event."

Featured Image Credit: Lyle Krannichfeld and Brandi Romano

Topics: News, US News, Science, Animals