Orcas: Killer Beauties
Sexual MaturityStudies made to the Orcas in the oceanariums suggest that females become sexually mature when they reach the 15 to 16 feet. (4.6 to 4.9 meters), approximately at the age of 14 to 15 years.
The males become sexually mature when they reach the 18 to 20 feet. (5.5 to 6.1 meters), approximately to the 10 to 13 years. Data of field that can be compared indicates however, that females become sexually mature between the age of 9 to 12 years and the males between 13 to 16 years.
Mating Activity.The females enter estrus or "heat" several times during the year. Mating can happen in any season, but it is very common in the summer. In the North Atlantic the mating seems to begin between October and November; in the North Pacific, the mating seems to begin between May and July.
All the observers of the cetacean mating agree that a prolonged playing precedes the final act. This playing has much tenderness, are very few rubbing in the beginning, but later the rubbing get stronger.
Mammals or Fishes ?
The Orcas, are hot blooded mammals. Like most of the mammals the fertilization occur internally, by the union of both sexes. In the most part of fishes, the male "sprinkles" his sperm on the eggs that the female puts to be able to fertilize them.
In the mammals, however, the fertilization occurs internally, when the male releases his sperm inside the female's body. The conception occurs moments after the union.
Like most mammals, Orcas has very good defined separated sexes. However, they remain hidden in normal conditions inside the animal's body; which by being designed to be more efficient in an aquatic environment, hides the male's penis into a genital slit; making it hard to tell which one is a male and which one is a female.
In this pictures there's a male at the left and at the right there is a female. Note in the right photo, that there's a mammary gland at each side of the female's genital opening, which are absent in the male body.
In heat or not ?
The female plays a very active role in this phase. This may be how the female shows that she is in heat, since the male cannot smell it. This is due to the fact that cetaceans have little or no sense of smell.
When and how it happens ?
Captive Orcas are often observed. Most of the acts take place early in the evening, at the morning or at night. When the moment is near, there are repeated contact of the male's penis with the female’s ventral region. After that the male could approach the female from behind, from a perpendicular angle, some angle in between, or just in front of her, to mate in a belly to belly position.. Erection can occur suddenly, within one or two seconds.
Types of Copula
When penetration takes place, two of types of copulation have been observed. In the first type, the penis was only inserted halfway into the vagina, and the act lasted no more than 10 seconds, though there were clear indications ejaculation has occurred.
In the second type consists of full penetration, and tends to last for 30 seconds. Pelvic thrusts are observed before, during, and after intromission, and the pattern is often repeated every one to eight minutes for one half hour or more, not always with the same female.
Young Orcas have been observed attempting to copulate with orcas of both sexes, and also with sharks and even turtles. In captivity, they have been observed attempting to masturbate their selves with the aid of ropes and jets of water, also with their tank walls. This is common in captive orcas. The masturbation is considered part of the common sexual behavior in many terrestrial mammals, and is less common in marine mammals.