As intimate as a Space Station

A Southern Right with telltale callouses

When it comes to animal mating, nature gives many great shows. There are the “courtship dives” of hummingbirds, and the giant red-balloon throats of frigate birds. Clownfish change spontaneously from male to female (and back again), garden snails shoot pre-mating darts at each other, and red garter snakes ball together by the 100’s. And the snapping turtles in the canal?  I swear, they’re trying to drown each other.

But the mating of the southern right whale — as BBC documented on Giant Lives — more resembles the refueling of the Space Station than an act of love.
These whales thrive in the warm sub-polar waters near Peninsula Valdes in Argentina and, between May and November, each year, they give birth and nurse young in the shallows.
The baby has gestated for one year, having been conceived in these same waters the previous year.
Unlike raucous humpbacks who chase and divebomb each other to mate, southern rights are friendly and affectionate. Their gentle nature is a striking contrast to their colossal size! They can weigh 100 tons!
And they’re easy to view, since their gregarious natures bring them close by shore and boats, and their slow movements make them easy to capture (I meant in a photograph, but it also historically made them hunting targets!)
In fact, they are one of the only whales that prefer sandy, shallow shoreline areas to deep water!
So, here is the act, caught on video:

Love, Southern Right Whale-style!

Watching Space Station re-fueling videos will never be the same.

Southern Right Whale mating is on MY Travel WishMap!  Is it on yours?  For more info, call Melanie@609.923.0304!

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