First Photographs Of Humpback Whale Sex Feature Two Males In The Act

Humans’ first sighting of humpback whale sex appears to have been coitus between two males.

A study published by the Marine Mammal Science journal details researchers’ first-ever observation of humpback intercourse, which was captured by photographers off the coast of Maui, Hawaii in January 2022.

Photographers Lyle Krannichfeld and Brandi Romano witnessed two male humpback whales approach a boat and circle around it before engaging in sexual activity underneath.

The underwater tryst marks both the first time humpback whales — a species which can span 50 feet long and weigh more than 30 tons — have been observed copulating and is the first recorded instance of homosexual behavior in the species.

According to Stephanie Stack, a whale researcher at the Pacific Whale Foundation and lead author of the new paper, the sexual behavior of humpback whales has “remained mostly a mystery until now.”

Close-up of a less amorous humpback.
Close-up of a less amorous humpback. George Ofei / 500px via Getty Images

“This discovery challenges our preconceived notions about humpback whale behavior,” she told The Guardian. “While we have long recognized 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.”

According to the paper, witnesses saw one of the whales holding the other in place with its pectoral fins while penetrating it.

Humpback whale penises are usually concealed in a “genital slit” and scientists have only rarely seen them unsheathed, according to the study. The paper speculates that the male humpbacks could have used the genital slit or anus for same-sex copulation.

Scientists think humpback’s homosexual tendencies may be a way to practice reproductive behaviors, could be a way to form social alliances or to assert dominance.

Read the complete study here.