Scientists spot unique whale-dolphin hybrid near Hawaii

Scientists spot unique whale-dolphin hybrid near Hawaii

Scientists spot unique whale-dolphin hybrid near Hawaii

They were doing field work in the waters near Kauai when they spotted a pod of melon-headed whales and rough-toothed dolphins swimming alongside each other.

Whatever you call it, the first know hybrid between a melon-headed whale and a rough-toothed dolphin is a wonderful surprise.

A whale-dolphin hybrid was discovered thanks to the efforts of scientists in Hawaii.

Whales and dolphins both belong to the same taxonomic order, and are closely enough related that offspring between them can be fertile and have been recorded although they are extremely rare.

"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.

In an interview with Hawaii newspaper, The Garden Island, Baird said the discovery is their "most unusual finding".

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. Like orcas, beluga whales and pilot whales, melon-headed whales are actually a species of dolphin, or delphinidae - and dolphins are a sub-family of whales to boot. Soon after, they were able to get DNA, which led them to the definitive conclusion that it was indeed a hybrid of the two species.

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

The discovery of a hybrid animal might sound surprising, but it turns out that hybridization among different species is not unheard of. 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.

Although they are present in all three major oceans, rough-toothed dolphins are still not as widely studied as other dolphin species.

In the photo above, the hybrid whale-dolphin swims in the foreground next to a melon-headed whale. Wholphins have also been conceived in captivity with the last one at Sea Life Park in Hawaii.

Of the creatures detected, the scientists observed rough-toothed dolphins the most times, the longest encounters of which were of the mixed-species kind, while one other sighting was of a mixed group of rough-toothed dolphins and bottlenose dolphins.

"To know she has cousins out there in the ocean is an awesome 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".

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