Maui-based photographers Lyle Krannichfeld and Brandi Romano spent about 30 minutes observing and photographing two male humpback whales on January 19, 2022. Photo Credit: Lyle Krannichfeld and Brandi Romano

Animals Maui, Hawaii17. March 2024

We’re Learning More About Humpback Whales!

For the first time, citizen scientists have successfully photographed two male humpback whales mating – offering new insights into this species’ interactions.

Even though humpback whales are some of the largest animals on the planet, they remain largely a mystery to scientists as the majority of their behaviors have yet to be documented. A recent photo taken by citizen scientists near Maui, Hawaii reveals two humpback mating – and both of them are male.

The humpback whale will now be added to the long list of the 1,500 species of animals currently known to engage in same-sex sexual activity alongside bottlenose dolphins, bison, and dragonflies. As of now, scientists do not have a concrete answer as to why two same-sex individuals engage in sexual activity, but a few of the theories that exist include the idea that homosexual behaviour forms more incredible social bonds, reduces tensions, and can even help male individuals practice mating. “Given how little we understand about humpback whale reproduction, and how much we still have to understand about their social dynamics, I wouldn’t venture a guess as to exactly what motivated the behaviour,” says a marine scientist at Griffith University in Australia, Olaf Meynecke.

Smithsonian Magazine

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