Part of a series based on Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity by Bruce Bagemihl. Manatee’s are large seal-like marine mammals, up to 2.5-4m (8-14 ft) long. This species lives in coastal areas and rivers of the southeastern United States, the Caribbean, and northeastern Brazil. Manatees are generally solitary and barely social at all. Occasionally they form small groups of two to six individuals; these groups may be mixed or consist entirely of younger males.
Having no society as such doesn’t stop male Manatees from cruising for other males. Most male Manatees are probably bisexual, since their homosexuality is usually either interspersed with heterosexual encounters, or it develops out of ménages à trois (or quatre, or more) involving a female and several males. In other words, male Manatees sometimes compete against each other for female attention but then go off with their male rival instead. A good twist there for soap opera script writers, although I daresay it’s been done already on some show or other.
West Indian Manatee (Trichelus manatus)
Part of a series based on Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity by Bruce Bagemihl. Because Dolphins are found in temperate to tropical coastal waters throughout large parts of the world, they’re already somewhat notorious for sexiness, but no matter how many other human values get projected onto them their bisexuality and homosexuality is still frequently whitewashed. There are four basic social units in Bottlenose society: mothers and calf pairs, adolescent groups (often male only or male dominated), bands of up to a dozen adult females and their young, and adult males in lifelong pair bonds. Yes, male dolphins get sort of gay married. In some communities more than three-quarters of all males are in same-sex partnerships.
Dolphins of the same sex sometimes spend anything from several minutes to many hours rubbing against each other, caressing, stroking, mouthing, chasing, pushing and leaping. This sexual play involves their whole bodies including fins, flukes, snouts, heads and genitals. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the males often sport erections during this type of play. Although humans who “play” with Dolphins are often too starry-eyed and idealising to notice it, male Dolphins are quite often engaging with these humans in what is to them sex play. They’re not choosy about species, and they’ll have sex (or try to) with other types of marine mammals.
QED. The gentleman depicted here seems to be enjoying himself, anyway.
Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus)
Homosexuality: Female & Male Behaviours: Courtship, Affectionate, Sexual, Pair-bonding Ranking: Primary Observed: Wild, Captivity
(See It’s Gay Animal Fortnight for an explanation of this box.)
Part of a series based on Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity by Bruce Bagemihl. Walruses are massive arctic pinnipeds, a group of marine mammals that includes seals. Males can grow up to 12 feet long and weigh 3,500 lbs. January to March is the heterosexual breeding season. Males mate with several females but form no long-lasting bonds. At other times when both sexes are present, they are mostly segregated. When the females and their calves go north for the summer, it’s time for the males to stay behind and really indulge their inner gay Walrus.
In groups of up to fifty individuals, male walruses float at the surface and engage in homosexual courtship, intercourse and affection. They solicit boyfriends by perching on their favourite boulder or beach, inflating their throat pouches and issuing a series of vocalisations. One or both males may also dive and resurface until his intended gets the message and/or the horn. Sometimes a group will gather round to hear a homosexual courtship song, or the courting Walrus will be accompanied and helped out with his song by a younger attendant male.
Walrus (Odobenus rosmarus)