Male Whales Prefer Ginormous Females

Hey Pretty! Where Are You Swimming To?
A new study about humpback whales found that male whales have a marked preference for the biggest females they can find. "Big in terms of humpback whales means gigantic, since females are usually larger than males to begin with, measuring up to around 50 feet long and weighing approximately 79,000 pounds."From Discovery News:

Since females produce a single calf every two to three years on average, and not all females migrate to breeding grounds, males usually far outnumber females at the sites.

Interested males serve as "escorts" for their female of choice, swimming in close proximity to her and, if present, her calf. The males all gravitated to the largest females, sometimes engaging in dangerous fights to win and maintain the coveted escort position. [...]

Fitness appears to be behind the whales' fondness for fat and long bodies, since the researchers also discovered that the largest females also produced the biggest calves. Since whales depend upon stored body fat to support their metabolic requirements, particularly during the winter, the extra heft is necessary for their survival, promoting greater reproductive success and aiding females in the nursing of their offspring.

Isn't one of the main reasons why we're treehuggers because the natural world is so fascinating? I find it amazing that animals as big as whales (some have hearts as big as cars!) are so little known; we lose track of them when they dive too deep and migrate too far away from the coasts, and so we know relatively little about their lives. Studies like this one slowly but surely add to our knowledge.

Via Discovery News
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Tags: Animals | Oceans

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