First ever 'wholphin' hybrid spotted in wild

Rare whale-dolphin hybrid discovered in Hawaii, scientists say

New Hybrid Whale-Dolphin Discovered Off Hawaii

The discovery was first made by researchers with the collective past year, though the report detailing the hybrid - the product of a melon-headed whale and a rough-toothed dolphin - was released this week.

But they bristle at labeling the unique animal a "wholphin".

A new species of aquatic mammal, a hybrid of a whale and a dolphin, has been identified in waters near Hawaii.

A report published last week by ocean research organisation Cascadia Research Collective concluded that a mammal spotted off the coast of Kauai, Hawaii, in August a year ago is indeed the product of mating between a dolphin and a whale.

"While hybridization can at times lead to new species, most of the time this does not happen", Cascadia researcher Robin Baird told CNN, pointing that there was only a single hybrid found this time. Researchers believe a melon-headed whale was the mother of the hybrid. Note that the hybrid shares some physical characteristics with members of both species, including the colorization of the whale and a snout that resembles his dolphin brethren.

The unusual hybrid and its companion traveled more than 800 miles over 14 days as the scientists observed them.

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.

Baird continued to explain that the "morphological appearance" of the animal promoted researchers to get a biopsy sample. There's still limited information on the Hawaiian populations of the two species involved, so further studies are necessary to determine whether this played a role in the hybrid's birth.

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

"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.

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

He said: "Calling it something like a wholphin doesn't make any sense". The Wholphin is a rare find in the wild and can only be produced by the mating of a female bottle nosed dolphin and a male killer whale.

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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.

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

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