Published: Thu, August 02, 2018
Global Media | By Jackie Banks

Don't call dolphin hybrid spotted off Hawaii a 'wholphin'

Don't call dolphin hybrid spotted off Hawaii a 'wholphin'

Robin Baird, a biologist with the Cascadia Research Collective spoke to CBS News about his findings.

'I think calling it a wholphin just confuses the situation more than it already is'.

"What could have happened is that the mother, a melon-headed whale may, have become separated from her pod, begun to stay with single rough-toothed dolphins, and become used to swimming with the other species", Baird said.

Reports calling the hybrid animal a "wholphin" are false, scientists say.

The cross appears to be the first instance of a wild-born hybrid between the two species.

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.

Manyoutlets described the creature as a "wholphin".

Kimberly A Wood/Cascadia Research The hybrid is in the front, with the melon-headed whale that researchers suspect is the mother. Aww! Both species belong to the Delphinidae (oceanic dolphin) family, but the report notes that cross-species unions between them are unusual: It's only the third recorded example in the Delphinidae family, and the first between these two species.

"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.

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Scientists who found the specimen tracked numerous species during a study off the island of Kauai previous year. "We were able to get a biopsy sample of the animal". 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.

Two of the ocean's most beloved sea creatures morph into one unbelievable animal, as a team of researchers discovered in the past year.

The male hybrid presents an opportunity to look for others.

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

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.

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

But a hybrid can also tell us something interesting about animal interactions. In addition, they saw and tagged pantropical spotted dolphins, also rare in Hawaiian waters.

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

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