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Published: Thu, August 02, 2018
Research | By Jennifer Evans

Here’s What You Get When a Whale and a Dolphin Mate

Here’s What You Get When a Whale and a Dolphin Mate

One melon-headed whale was also spotted chilling with a pod of rough-toothed dolphins.

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

According to the scientists, the hybrid was a result of inter-species mating, and they even called it a "most unusual" find that's actually the first documented melon-headed whale and rough-toothed dolphin hybrid. Kekaimalu, the only known living first-generation wolphin, which is a cross between a false killer whale and Atlantic bottlenose dolphin, gave birth to a female calf in 2004, and today the two live together at Oahu's Sea Life Park.

The melon-headed whale, which the researchers also observed hanging around during their expedition, is also relatively rare in the waters of Hawaii.

The odd pair and their closeness to the other dolphins have led the researchers to speculate that the accompanying melon-headed whale is the hybrid's mother.

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

About the discovery of a new species of dolphins, scientists have not yet spoken, because it is not known whether this is a new animal to create viable offspring.

Despite the fact that earlier hybrids among different species of whales and dolphins have been recorded, the baby of these two species found for the first time. That's because two animal species are unlikely to have the same number of chromosomes, and hybrids won't be able to reproduce if their parents are too genetically dissimilar.

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

Robin W Baird/Cascadia Research Rough-toothed dolphins.

Two of the ocean's most beloved sea creatures morph into one awesome animal, as a team of researchers discovered in the past year. For one thing, hybrids can occur when the paternal species goes through a population drop and "individuals have difficulty finding mates".

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

"We're hoping that just by talking to some tour operators and fishermen, especially folks heading across the channel to Niihau, we might get tips and encounter something like pilot whales", Baird said, as he outlined his plans to track the species further.

"We had the photos and suspected it was a hybrid from morphological characteristics intermediate between species".

A likely scenario for how the hybrid came to be a melon-headed whale getting separated from its group and ending up travelling with rough-toothed dolphins.

Scientists do not know how old the hybrid is, but believe it is close to adult age.

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