Bizarre Sex Lives of Oean Creatures

Bizarre Sex Lives of Oean Creatures

Romance! Danger! Hope! And the wildest sex even you can imagine.

In her new book Sex in the Sea, coral reef ecologist Marah J. Hardt dishes on the swinging sex lives of sea creatures, the perils they face from pollution to overfishing, and new hope for keeping the ocean healthy and its residents randy.

For Valentine’s Day Hardt talked to National Geographic about gigantic sperm, courtly lobsters, and why sexually satisfied sea life is good for everyone.

What made you decide this would be a great book to write?

I was at a party when [a woman] said, “I just wish I could be in the body of a guy and know what’s going in their heads!” I said, “Yes, if only we could be parrotfish.” The conversation stopped. I said, “They start as females and when they get to a certain stature they become male, so one fish knows what it’s like for both sexes.”

Everybody had wide eyes, so I thought, let's see how far I can take this. I said, “Imagine you’re fishing on a reef and you are catching all the biggest fish. You’re taking out all the males… this adds a totally different level of complexity to management.”

Later I overheard someone from the conversation telling another guest at the party, “Did you know fish change sex?“ I thought that’s it! The ocean has the most bizarre sex stories! If we talk about sex and make it funny we can weave in these conservation messages, because ultimately successful sex is the heart of sustainability—it drives the abundance we all depend upon in the ocean, whether it’s for food or reefs that protect our coastline or novel medicines. 

To read more about the amazing sex lives of ocean life, click here.