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  • Two humpback whales were photographed having sex for the first time, a new study said.
  • Both of the humpback whales were male, the study added.
  • The rare event occurred off the coast of Maui, Hawaii, in 2022.

Two humpback whales were photographed having sex for the first time, a new study published in the journal Marine Mammal Science said.

The image, which was captured off the coast of Maui, Hawaii, also marked the first documented case of sexual activity between two male humpback whales, per the study.

It was captured in 2022 when a private boat observed two humpback whales “interacting with each other” and slowly circling it.

One whale, Whale A, appeared to be weak and possibly injured.


The other whale, Whale B, repeatedly approached Whale A from behind and penetrated it with its penis, seemingly using its pectoral fins to keep Whale A in position, the study said.

It added that the penetrations were shallow and lasted less than two minutes each.

“After the final penetration, Whale B dove and did not reappear. Whale A remained near the surface for a few minutes (visible from the boat) before diving,” per the study.

It is not clear exactly what influenced the whales’ behavior, but one explanation offered in the study was that Whale B was possibly exerting dominance over an injured rival.


It is not the first instance of homosexual activity being observed in animals, with monkeys, dolphins, and penguins, among others, known to have engaged in such behavior.

In December, Business Insider reported on another scientific breakthrough involving humpback whales.

Scientists were able to hold a 20-minute “conversation” with a humpback whale by emitting contact calls at varying intervals.

“It certainly felt like we had been heard,” Fred Sharpe, coauthor and principal investigator with the Alaska Whale Foundation, told Business Insider.


“We believe this is the first such communicative exchange between humans and humpback whales in the humpback ‘language,'” Brenda McCowan, a professor at UC Davis’s School of Veterinary Medicine, added in a statement.

Business Insider contacted the Pacific Whale Foundation for comment.

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