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

02 August, 2018, 22:01 | Author: Lucy Floyd
  • Kimberly A. Wood under Cascadia Research Collective NMFS permit 20605

That's because a melon-headed whale is one of the various species that's called a whale but is technically a dolphin.

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

Apart from the unique hybrid find, the scientists also observed a group of melon-headed whales as well as pantropical spotted dolphins.

It is, however, a delight to be reporting on new species which are emerging, as it is often the opposite which is covered in contemporary environmental news.

From the Pacific Missile Range Facility range, the Navy were able to record acoustics of the animals in their habitat, which they were then able to pass over to Baird and his crew.

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Fast forward to previous year, when a team of scientists with the Cascadia Research Collective on an expedition near the island of Kauai spotted a odd creature - not quite a melon-headed whale, not fully a rough-toothed dolphin.

Both pigmentation and morphological characteristics suggested it may be a hybrid resulting from a melon-headed whale and a rough-toothed dolphin mating, scientists explained in the new report.

The team was able to obtain a biopsy, using a crossbow equipped with a special dart that prevents deep penetration and returns a skin sample.

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".

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While some news organizations have described the hybrid as a new species, research biologist Robin Baird says in order for that to happen other things need to occur, including more widespread hybridization.

Two of the ocean's most beloved sea creatures morph into one fantastic animal, as a team of researchers discovered in the past year. There have been other cases of wholphins in the past, most notably at Hawaii's Sea Life Park aquarium in 1985, when a female bottlenose dolphin had a calf with a male false killer whale.

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

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.

"Before you go tie your head in knots wondering how a whale managed to successfully reproduce with a dolphin - it didn't".

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

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