Rare dolphin-whale hybrid spotted near Hawaii

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Genetic analysis revealed that his father is cropnosis Dolphin (Steno bredanensis), and mother - melon-headed whale, or Dolphin (Peponocephala electra), which belongs to the cetaceans.

The hybrid was spotted spending most of its time alongside another melon-headed whale by scientists on a two-week tagging and monitoring effort. 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.

This Aug. 11, 2017, photo provided by Cascadia Research shows a hybrid between a melon-headed whale and a rough-toothed dolphin, in the foreground, swimming next to a melon-headed dolphin near Kauai, Hawaii. Below the leading edge of the dorsal fin, the patterns on it were like those of melon-headed whales, but at the base of and immediately below the dorsal fin, it had darker-colored blotches, similar to those found on rough-toothed dolphins.

"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.

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

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

And while many reports have referred to the animal as a whale-dolphin hybrid, it's worth mentioning that technically, melon-headed whales are part of a scientific family of ocean dolphins called Delphinidae.

They were able to take a sample for a biopsy, which confirmed their suspicions.

In a report published this month, the researchers said it had "pigmentation and morphological characteristics suggesting it may be a hybrid".

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After all, individual hybrid cases are not usually officially recognized as new species since many hybrids are unable to reproduce.

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Melon-headed whales, he explains, usually travel together in groups of around 250. For instance, perhaps when the mother was looking for a mate, she was unable to find a suitable one among her own species.

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.

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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.

The hybrid named Keikaimalu still lives at the marine mammal park, where she helps teach children about genetics.

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