Homosexuality among marine animals – Queer life underwater
Homosexual marine animals? Exactly! Aristotle reported about homosexual couples in the animal kingdom as early as 2300 years ago, and until today, homosexual relationships have been observed in about 1500 animal species. This was ignored by scientists or dismissed as a hormonal disorder for a long time but today we know: There is nothing more natural!
To celebrate Pride Month in June, we further researched the topic of homosexuality in marine animals. With the Rainbow Bracenet you too can show your support for universal love!
Penguins are probably the best known example of homosexuality in animals, as researchers observed this as early as 1911. About one in five penguins is homosexual, though homosexual relationships are more common in males than in females. It is common for male homosexual couples to adopt abandoned eggs or “breed” together on large rocks. Generally, like their heterosexual mates, they are monogamous and very loyal.
The Central Park Zoo in New York is home to several world-famous male homosexual penguin couples. The most famous one ist the Humboldt penguin pair Silo and Roy from 2006, who were both exclusively homosexual and refused to have any romantic or sexual contact with females. Together they adopted an orphaned egg and raised their adopted daughter, Tango. Tango later lived in a same-sex monogamous relationship with another female. A female homosexual Gentoo Penguin couple named Georgey and Mickey lived in the same zoo. At the Bremerhaven Zoo, six of the 20 Humboldt penguins are homosexual. One of the couples, like Silo and Roy, took in an orphaned egg, hatched it, and now lovingly cares for the young penguin.
Not just penguins can show homosexual behavior; there are also many same-sex partnerships among dolphins. In a researched group of dolphins in Australia, lifelong homosexual partnerships between males were even more common than heterosexual partnerships. Scientists assume that the main reason for this is not primarily sex, but rather intimate social relationships.
In bottlenose dolphins, a subspecies of dolphins, all males are bisexual. The homosexual encounters help the social structure of the dolphin groups. At a young age, male dolphins form a particularly close relationship with another male dolphin which solidifies over time and grows into a lifelong partnership. The same-sex couple become companions, traveling long distances through the ocean together and defending each other. When one partner sleeps, the other keeps watch and protects him from predators such as sharks. Even during sexual maturity and reproduction with female dolphins, the homosexual relationship between the male dolphin couple remains. When one partner dies, the “widower” often remains alone for a long time. However, sometimes he will form a new relationship with another “widower”.
While homosexual relationships between males are more common in dolphins, 30% of Laysan albatross couples in Hawaii are made up of two females. Similar to heterosexual albatrosses, they live in monogamous relationships, although they mate with males for reproduction. The eggs that result from this are hatched and cared for by the two females together. Hatchlings with two mothers often have even better chances of survival than hatchlings that have a heterosexual couple as parents.
The incredible sexual diversity in the animal kingdom is also demonstrated by male walruses, who display predominantly homosexual behavior until they reach sexual maturity at the age of four, and bisexual behavior from then on. They engage in close relationships with their partners, hugging and cuddling with each other. It is only during mating season that they have sexual intercourse with females.
Some gray whales also form homosexual relationships with up to two partners. These duos or trios feed and rest together. When swimming together, they form a formation in which their fins touch in a way that makes it seem as if they were holding hands. Researchers have yet to find a scientific reason for this, so they suspect the animals simply enjoy each other’s company.
Homosexuality is often observed by scientists in many other marine animals as well, including sperm whales, flamingos, sea lions, orcas, manatees, and many many more. Queerness in the animal kingdom is displayed in the most diverse ways and only proves once again that love, no matter between whom, is a natural and beautiful phenomenon. So let’s celebrate love for all not only during Pride Month, but all year long!
For more news about the LGBTQIA+ community, visit www.lgbt.foundation.com.
Happy Pride Month! 🌈