Whales are an extremely social and caring species that protects each other and nurtures their young, however when it comes to having a life long mating partner the short answer is, “no whales do not mate for life”.
In fact some species of whale can mate with a number of different partners over the course of a single year, especially during mating season when large numbers of whales gather together to mate and bear offspring.
In certain cases several males may mate with a single female in an attempt to bear her offspring and may even fight one another or compete against each other for the opportunity to mate with a particular female whale.
When mating season occurs and how long it lasts can vary depending on the whales species and where they are located in the world.
In general mating season occurs during the colder winter months and feeding season occurs during the warmer summer months.
This is especially true among species that live in cold climates where they obtain the majority of their food in and around the arctic/antarctic waters.
When their food supply leaves the freezing waters to look for warmer waters during the winter these whales also migrate away from the colder freezing waters to their mating grounds.
For some whales mating season may last several months, while for others mating may occur throughout the year.
Mating rituals can include charging at other whales, performing acrobatic feats to show off their physical youth and singing mating songs among other mating rituals used to attract a female.
In order to ensure that the offspring they produce is healthy some whales will choose to only mate with partners outside of their pods in order to avoid accidental inbreeding.
This can be especially important in pods that form life long relationships, such as the killer whale species.
While some whales may form long-term relationships with friends and family members other whales may choose to live more solitary lifestyles often traveling alone or in small pods.
In these cases a typical whale pod may consist of a mother and her child or two male friends.
The female whale may also be accompanied by other females and form a larger pod to protect one another and their children.
While the male whale goes off exploring the world and meeting other partners to mate with the female whale will bear her offspring and raise it until the child is able to hunt on its own and care for itself.
Whales such as the humpback whale are a good example as the male whale will mate with a female then leave and go on to his next adventure.
After the female humpback whale finishes caring for her offspring her young may go on and repeat the process.
As stated earlier, not all species leave their pods and some whales form long-term relationships with friends and family members.
The degree to which these relationships are formed and how long they last varies from one species to the next, however for the most part whales do not mate for life.
Note: Despite being referred to as “whales” killer whale are actually a species of dolphin.