Determining ratio of dorsal fin height to penis length in Orcinus orca: Does size really matter in Orca reproduction?

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Determining ratio of dorsal fin height to penis length in Orcinus orca: Does size really matter in Orca reproduction?
Wessal Kenaio

BeamReach Marine Science and Sustainability School

Univeristy of Washington, Friday Harbor Labs
The correlation between foot size and length of penis has long been established in Homo sapiens, however similar relationships have not been established for males of other species. Dorsal fins in male killer whales, Orcinus orca, are typically about twice as tall as females (Liz et al. 2007). It may be relevant to male reproductive success to be able to flaunt “the size of his boat” without showing the goods too early on in the courting process. In addition, it may be female killer whales perception that her “Orcagasm” will be greater if her suitor has a longer dorsal fin (Kenna et al. 1897). For these reasons, it is likely that males have higher reproductive success with taller, more erect dorsal fins, and therefore, throughout the process of evolution only the males with the tallest fins have persisted. The Southern Resident Killer Whale (SRKW) population lives in and around the San Juan Islands. The reproductive success of this pod is thought to be credited to the unusually long and erect dorsal fins (which means longer penises, and happier female orcas). An analysis of dorsal fin: penis size ratio should be considered to better understand correlation.
A simple method for data collection will be used to determine lengths of both penises and dorsal fins. We will first chum the water with guts of Chinook to attract the orcas to the general vicinity. After which time we will troll salmon from the back of our research vessel, the Gato Verde, on a hooked line until the orca catches on. Once the orca is firmly secured, I (or a collegue) will slide down the rope and onto the orca. I will work my way onto the top of the animal where I will take a measurement of the length of the dorsal fin; after which time I will continue to make my way to the genital area. Once there I will reach my hand into the genital slit and remove the penis for measurement. Release of the orca will be quick; once I am back on the boat we will cut the rope and wave the animal off.

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