Sci-tech

Rare whale-dolphin hybrid discovered in Hawaii, scientists say

Rare whale-dolphin hybrid discovered in Hawaii, scientists say

The so-called wolphin has been confirmed by scientists after it was spotted on a research trip near Kauai island.

Well now get ready for the latest animal combo: the Wholphin, half whale, half dolphin, all cute freakish creature.

Scientists from Cascadia Research Collective, off the coast of Hawaii have discovered an unusual mammal - a hybrid of a whale and a Dolphin.

However, it wasn't until a biopsy that they were able to confirm their suspicions. One melon-headed whale was also spotted chilling with a pod of rough-toothed dolphins.

Wholphin
Wholphin Hybrids generally occur when there is a decline in the population

He's believe to be the first example of cross-species lovin' between rough-toothed dolphins and melon-headed whales.

The marine mammal monitoring program, funded by the US Navy, first spotted the animal in August 2017. Although it had a typical melon-headed whale's dorsal fin shape and dorsal cape, it was also blotchy in pigmentation and had a sloping forehead, more reminiscent of a rough-toothed dolphin.

The whales swam south of Kauai and then back to the channel between Maui and Oahu, while the dolphins lingered just off the coast of Hawaii before diving into deeper waters. "Based on the genetics, the father was a rough-toothed dolphin and the mother a melon-headed whale".

The discovery of a hybrid animal might sound surprising, but it turns out that hybridization among different species is not unheard of.

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News of the hybrid proves the 'genetic diversity of the ocean, ' Sea Life Park curator Jeff Pawloski said.

He said: "Calling it something like a wholphin doesn't make any sense".

"We had the photos and suspected it was a hybrid from morphological characteristics intermediate between species", says marine biologist Robin Baird, lead author of a report in which the discovery is described.

"To know she has cousins out there in the ocean is an fantastic thing to know".

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In conversation with CBS News, Baird said that the team will return to the island next month, where they aim to do further testing of the surrounding areas.

Although they are present in all three major oceans, rough-toothed dolphins are still not as widely studied as other dolphin species.

The hybrid was only traveling with one companion - a melon-headed whale. For one thing, hybrids can occur when the paternal species goes through a population drop and "individuals have difficulty finding mates".

Scientists don't know how old it is but believe it's close to adult age.

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The deceptive label was widely-used for a false killer whale - the third largest species of dolphin - and an Atlantic bottlenose dolphin born in 1985 at Hawaii's Sea Life Park.


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