JULY 25, 2014
25 / 07 / 2014
We’re at the Tadoussac marina to make a minor repair on our boat. One of the captains tells us that earlier he saw a group of belugas raising a bit of a ruckus near Buoy K54 at the mouth of the Saguenay. We decide to head to the scene. We discover nearly a dozen males badgering Marjo. A brouhaha on the surface ensues, bodies rubbing up against and rolling over one another. We can even see their pink erect penises. Cooperation amongst males to reproduce with Marjo? Sexual play? Difficult to say, as such behaviour has rarely been documented and is poorly known. Seemingly completely exasperated, Marjo periodically attempts to separate from the group. The bulls catch up to her in no time and the pestering resumes. Her calf, seen the day before with her, is absent.
The scene observed that day raises questions on belugas’ reproductive strategies. In both dolphins and chimpanzees, groups of males are known to practise infanticide so that the females become available to reproduce again more quickly. Might this same strategy be shared by belugas?