Whale hugs, ‘active sea serpents,’ and the wild world of whale sex – Justine Calma

Northern Right whale
Northern right whale.Eubalaena glacialis.Courting group. Several males approach a female (on left). Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick, Canada. | Photo by: Francois Gohier/VW Pics/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Adorable drone footage came out last week showing two right whales touching bellies and wrapping their flippers around each other — appearing to “hug.” It was a moment rarely caught on camera. Scientists still aren’t exactly sure what that behavior really means, but the moment is a window into the dramatic world of whale sex and conservation.

The video that’s been released to the public was just one snippet of a series of footage from two drones that was captured on February 28th in Cape Cod Bay, Massachusetts. The team documenting what happened that day included veterinarian and senior scientist Michael Moore from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), National Geographic photographer Brian Skerry, and Amy Knowlton from the…

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