#24: Intromission in the Bay

We were able to get on the water on Friday, Sept. 5, before the effects of hurricane Hanna reached the Bay of Fundy. It was the first time we had been on the water in a week and it was well worth the wait! We spent two hours of our day photographing a Surface Active Group (SAG) of about 20 whales! It was truly one of the most incredible sights I have ever seen!

An example of a surface active group

From over a mile away, we spotted a few whales rolling at the surface of the water causing a lot of commotion. As we headed toward the whales, our approach was accompanied by 6 other whales all traveling in sync with one another. They raced towards the forming SAG, all breathing and diving in unison. We arrived to find that the SAG now included 20 whales! The amount of activity there was astonishing. The whales were all cavorting around the focal female, caressing her with their flippers, and rolling and lobtailing as they jostled each other to get closer to her. More then once a penis was observed and we even witnessed intromission! All this was accompanied by the potent smell of whale defecation.

The whale watcher, Marylin Marx, quickly identified the focal female as Sonnet (Eg #1123), a mother this year, and found her calf mingling in the aggregation. All other whales that were identified were males, Meridian (Eg #1403), Gemini (Eg #1150), Glidden (Eg #1428), and Manta (Eg #1507) to name a few. You can find photos and sighting history for each of these whales in the North Atlantic Right Whale Catalog.

Social aggregations of this size have only been seen in Roseway Basin (South of Nova Scotia) and the Bay of Fundy.


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