Subject: Reproduction

Pieter Folkens (
Sun, 16 Mar 1997 00:51:44 -0700

>We would like to know the origin of the term "third Whale," as used in the
>description of the process of reproduction in whales.  What does it mean,
>what is the function of the so-called "third Whale" and where can we find
>more about it?

One male whale intending to mate with a female will eventually get to the
point of having to push against her. Pushing a whale in the water is likely
to encounter little resistant -- after all, whales are aquadynamically
streamlined. In order to get penetration, there must be some resistance. If
the target female encounters a massive object (another whale for instance),
her movement through the water is sufficiently restrained to allow
copulation. The "third whale" is the one which provides that mass and the
important resistance.