Half whale-half dophin spotted for first time off coast of Hawaii

Half whale-half dophin spotted for first time off coast of Hawaii

Half whale-half dophin spotted for first time off coast of Hawaii

Scientists off the coast of Hawaii have discovered a never-before-seen hybrid sea creature ― a cross between a rough-toothed dolphin and a melon-headed whale. They spotted a rare - possibly one-of-a-kind - whale-dolphin hybrid off the coast of Kaua'i while studying marine species there. After encountering a large pod of melon-headed whales, the researchers tagged two of them, to see where they might go.

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", project leader Robin Baird, a biologist, explains to Garden Island.

The hybrid was spotted spending most of its time alongside another melon-headed whale by scientists on a two-week tagging and monitoring effort. The family covers sea dolphins and some whales, which is why inter-species breeding is possible.

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.

Scientists found a hybrid between a melon-headed whale and a rough-toothed dolphin in the ocean off the Hawaiian island of Kauai a year ago.

"There's no evidence to suggest it's leading toward anything like species formation".

"It increases their ability to understand not only how species are using the range, but what effects Navy sonar may have on them", Baird says.


However, it wasn't until a biopsy that they were able to confirm their suspicions.

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.

The so-called wolphin has been confirmed by scientists after it was spotted on a research trip near Kauai island. "I always thought they were out there in the wild existing - it only makes sense", he said.

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

Science known cases where genetic hybrids are either completely sterile, or are reproduced with great difficulty, as is the case with the mule - a hybrid of a donkey and a Mare.

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

The male "wholphin", which is believed to be close to adult age, was spotted swimming with dolphins near the island of Kauai a year ago, according to Dr Robin Baird, the marine biologist who headed the expedition.

This latest hybrid animal is not the first to be branded with the "wholfin" name.

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