Whales make up a family of mysticetes cetaceans that only consists of four species, in two genera. These creatures have very interesting characteristics, that we will list and describe in this article; despite there are still many aspects that must be studied regarding their reproductive methods.
First of all, we should take into account ,that their reproductive cycle; is known for being relatively shorter compared with other species of mammals. In terms of reproduction, the female can only give birth a single offspring in a gestation period; which may vary between nine and sixteen months depending on the species. This is considered one of the longest gestation periods in mammals.
The reproductive age is different in the male and female. For example, male whales mature sexually between 7 and 10 years Old. It should be noted that males, have a cavity in which their genitals are contained while they are swimming; and there is not much information about this matter. On the other hand, in the case of females, they have the maturity to reproduce when they have reached between 5 to 7 years.
To know a little more about the whales reproduction, it is necessary to understand how courtship works. Whales are known for being quiet in their habitats, however during the mating season, males usually fight among themselves, in order to get a female. All this results in pressure for the group. Even though, these cases do not entail big damages, and it is unlikely that a death occurs for these reasons. The objective of these fights is to determine, which is the strongest male; which will be the first to mate
On the other hand, females tend to be very receptive regarding the courtship of the males. The males employ methods, such as songs and vocalizations to attract the attention of the females. In the same way, they enjoy the slight touches that occur during this season. However, after the mating takes place, the females will be ready to mate again with a different male. To know more about these behaviors, we must evaluate the types of whales
This is the most important aspect about the whales reproduction. During this period the interaction of the group changes slightly, since males come and go to different herds , to be able to mate with females. There are usually around 7 participants, in the process of mating, one female and a half dozen male. At the beginning the female whale, makes a sort of turn, placing her belly upwards, in order to refuse to be copulated. She makes all this ritual because she is quite scared at the beginning. But when this happens, between a pair of males manage to turn her over, using their own bodies; until a member of the group finally reaches the intercourse.
This process usually lasts a few hours, until all males achieve their purpose. The mating is usually carried out during summer, but actually they can do it in any season, as in the case of the southern whale ( see article southern whales) who reproduce in winter.
Now, we recommend this wonderful video of two Blue Whales Flirting
Whales have their offspring every three years, and since they are mammals, the offspring grow inside the mother and then they are breastfed. The just born whales are known as whales calves; their weight is around two tons, which represents about 6% of the weight of the mother. The whales calves can measure between four and five meters. A curious fact of this species is that they have the ability to swim at the first moment after birth.
On the other hand, it is known that these baby whales grow quickly, the average rate is 3 centimeters per day, during the first two months. This is an outstanding characteristic of this species, which is due to the fact that the milk provided by its whale mother; is loaded with nutrients and has a high percentage of fat. The period of time they spend breastfeeding from their mother, is about twelve months. The growth will also depend on the species.
It should be noted that the whales calves, tend to accompany their parents in the migratory movements they carry out. In turn, the entire herd get involved in protecting these young. In these cases, the physical contact is very common between a whale with its offspring.
Finally, we have this illustrative video for you…..