Published: Thu, August 02, 2018
Global | By Craig Ferguson

Scientists: 1st sighting of dolphin hybrid is no 'wholphin'

Scientists: 1st sighting of dolphin hybrid is no 'wholphin'

A dolphin whale hybrid, recently discovered off the coast of Hawaii, has left scientists aghast. After they spotted it, scientists noticed that the wholphin had two distinctive features.

Some news organisations have described the melon-headed whale and rough-toothed dolphin hybrid as a new species, but other things would still need to occur for this to be the case, including more widespread hybridisation, Mr Baird said.

Scientists from the Cascadia Research Collective have discovered a rare dolphin-whale hybrid off the coast of Kauai, Hawaii, according to a report published last week.

The team will be returning to Kauai's waters next month, when they hope to get more photos of the new hybrid whale-dolphin as well as further research on other species in the area.

"We had the photos and suspected it was a hybrid from morphological characteristics intermediate between species", researcher Robin Baird said. Researchers believe a melon-headed whale was the mother of the hybrid.

The melon-headed whale might be called a whale, but the species is technically a type of dolphin.

Although many reports have called the wholphin a brand new species, in reality, this isn't the first time a whale/dolphin hybrid has been found. Soon after, they were able to get DNA, which led them to the definitive conclusion that it was indeed a hybrid of the two species.

In an email to Huffington Post, Baird adds that the genetics revealed the creature's father was a rough-toothed dolphin, while the mother was a melon-headed whale.

Researchers were able to collect a skin and blubber sample of animal using a crossbow (yep, being a marine biologist is more badarse than you'd think) with a dart designed lightly prick its skin, going no deeper than 1.5cm. This provided additional information on the effects which Navy sonar has on local marine life.

Scientists who found the specimen tracked numerous species during a study off the island of Kauai a year ago.

Two of the ocean's most beloved sea creatures morph into one fantastic animal, as a team of researchers discovered in the past year.

It's unknown whether this new animal - which the researchers named Steno bredanensis - could produce viable offspring, but in any case, one hybrid animal does not make a new species.

A mule, for instance, is a hybrid between a male donkey and a female horse.

Hybrids generally occur when there's a decline in the population in one of the parental species, so scientists will be looking out for such a decline.

Melon-headed whales, he explains, usually travel together in groups of around 250.

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

Killer whales (Orcas) are also Delphinidae or dolphins.

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