Sex and the Single Whale

by Todos Santos Eco Adventures

“Pink Floyd” photo by Kaia Thomson

The sexual revolution may have reached humans in the fairly recent past, but the gray whales in the lagoons of Baja California Sur have been free thinkers on the subject of sex for millennia.  Females in estrus commonly take several different lovers throughout their winter respite in the lagoons, and the males actually appear to be quite relaxed about the situation. In fact, when two males vie for the affections of the same female, the “loser” willingly assists the “winner” in consummating the relationship.  Seriously. When the winner is chosen in his romantic bid, he typically waves his 12-foot long penis – affectionately known by Baja guides as “Pink Floyd” – in a victory lap through the air while the object of his affection sidles up to him through the water. Once the lovers are floating belly-to-belly, the winner’s new wingman  – AKA the “loser” – braces the female from the back with his pectoral fins, helping her to maintain a good position (consider the logistical issues of two 40-ton mammals propagating the species in water). The trio can maintain this pattern for up to an hour, during which time the female and her consort-of-the-moment mate several

“Whale Celebration” photo by Kaia Thomson

times with the aid of the second male. All parties then swim away, the “winner” likely satisfied with his contributions to the gene pool and the “loser” probably pondering how to be on the other side of the equation next time. No fighting, no brawling, just that cool gray whale demeanor. And the female? Likely as not casting an appraising eye on the other males hanging about the lagoon.  After all, she’ll be pregnant for the next 12 to 13 months with the duties of motherhood to follow so she’ll want to enjoy this time of carefree romance in Baja as much as she can, while she can. Clever girl.

© Copyright Sergio and Bryan Jauregui, Casa Payaso S de RL de CV, 2013