Rare dolphin-whale hybrid spotted near Hawaii

Rare whale-dolphin hybrid discovered in Hawaii, scientists say

New Hybrid Whale-Dolphin Discovered Off Hawaii

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

Researchers in Hawaii say they have discovered a whale-dolphin hybrid, which is essentially a mule of the sea.

He's believe to be the first example of cross-species lovin' between rough-toothed dolphins and melon-headed whales.

"The head shape appears intermediate between the two species, with a gently-sloping rostrum rather than the rounded-head of a melon-headed whales but which is truncated compared to rough-toothed dolphins", researchers said.

However, this specific case is odd since only one melon-headed whale was seen mingling with a group of rough-toothed dolphins. Scientists are touting the first sighting of the hybrid off Hawaii.

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

Cascadia has conducted field research in the Canadian Arctic, Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, California, Hawai'i, Mexico, and the waters off Central America.

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.

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News of the hybrid spotted in the wild during navy-funded research to study the effects of sonar, proves the "genetic diversity of the ocean", Sea Life park curator Jeff Pawloski said.

"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.

'I always thought they were out there in the wild existing - it only makes sense, ' he said.

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

Killer whales (Orcas) are also Delphinidae or dolphins. In the photo above, the hybrid whale-dolphin swims in the foreground next to a melon-headed whale.

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. For one thing, hybrids can occur when the paternal species goes through a population drop and "individuals have difficulty finding mates".

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

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

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