Half whale-half dophin spotted for first time off coast of Hawaii
Aug 02 2018
The animal was seen previous year, but a new report from Cascadia Research Collective confirms the sea creature is the result of a whale and a dolphin mating, the team's head researcher told CBS News. 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.
The animal, which was first spotted off the island of Kauai in August 2017, appears to be the first record of a hybrid involving either species. Hybrids have been known to occur in the wild between other species, but this is only the third time that a dolphin and a whale have had a confirmed offspring and the first time ever for these particular species thereof.
Scientists are reluctant to use the term, however, and Dr Baird said the animals can not be considered their own species without more widespread hybridisation.
However, for that to happen other things need to occur, including more widespread hybridisation, Baird said. Although it had a typical melon-headed whale's dorsal fin shape and dorsal cape, it was also blotchy in pigmentation and had a sloping forehead, more reminiscent of a rough-toothed dolphin.
Scientists say the animal likely came to be when a melon-headed whale was separated from its group and ending up traveling with rough-toothed dolphins.
"If we find it again, we'd like to try to get a biopsy sample of the melon-headed whale it was associated with as well as get underwater footage [and] images to better assess morphology", Baird said.
The hybrid was spotted spending most of its time alongside another melon-headed whale by scientists on a two-week tagging and monitoring effort. "We were able to get a biopsy sample of the animal" as reported by express.co.uk.
Many animal hybrids are possible, but few survive past the first generation. This provided additional information on the effects which Navy sonar has on local marine life.
The so-called wolphin has been confirmed by scientists after it was spotted on a research trip near Kauai island.
"To know she has cousins out there in the ocean is an incredible thing to know".
Four years later, Keikaimalu was born at Hawaii's Sea Life Park in Hawaii, the result of "an unplanned union" between a false killer whale and an Atlantic bottlenose dolphin, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The male hybrid presents an opportunity to look for others.
Scientists don't know how old it is but believe it's close to adult age.
"To know she has cousins out there in the ocean is an unbelievable thing to know", said Sea Life park curator Jeff Pawloski in response to the new discovery, which he said was proof of the "genetic diversity of the ocean".