Dolphin-Whale Hybrid: Rare New Species Discovered off Hawaii Coast

Marsha Scott
August 2, 2018

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.

A dolphin whale hybrid, recently discovered off the coast of Hawaii, has left scientists aghast.

In a study published last week, experts said the animal first spotted off the island of Kauai in August 2017 appears to be the first time there has been a hybrid between the two species. Scientists are touting the first sighting of the hybrid off Hawaii.

However, he's not he first dolphin hybrid from the wild, with researchers noting he was the third known case of the Delphinidae family partnering up outside their species. Once Baird and his team were able to verify the presence of both rough-toothed dolphin and a melon-headed whale in the area, they then turned to the US Navy for some additional assistance.

The hybrid, pictured again in the foreground, was fathered by a rough-toothed dolphin, scientists said.

"That isn't the case, although there are examples where hybridization has resulted in a new species", he said. Perhaps in the future, there could be more dolphin and whale hybrids, but it remains to be seen if this previously rare event will become more commonplace down the line.

While Baird noted that the chances of finding the hybrid for a second time are slim, researchers will be returning to Kauai next month to further investigate the discovery.

Despite the name, melon-headed whales aren't actually whales - they're part of the dolphin family, and they tend to swim in large pods with hundreds of others of their kind.

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Madeline Farber is a Reporter for Fox News.

"We had the photos and suspected it was a hybrid from morphological characteristics intermediate between species, "marine biologist Robin Baird told The Garden Island".

Some hybrid animals, such as the mule - a hybrid of a male donkey and female horse - are mostly sterile and therefore can not propagate easily.

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.

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

It's unclear if this is true for this latest hybrid animal.

And, although rare, other dolphin hybrids are known, such as the offspring of a bottlenose dolphin and false killer whale (also delphinidae), called a wholphin, and the offspring of a beluga whale and a narwhal, called a narluga.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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