Sci-tech

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

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

It was fathered by a rough-toothed dolphin but born to a melon-headed whale, two rare species seldom seen in that part of the Pacific.

Scientists have spotted a hybrid whale-dolphin off the coast of Kauai, Hawaii.

The rare creature has predictably been termed a "wholphin" in media coverage, but Dr Robin Baird, one of the study's authors, has urged reporters to resist the tempting portmanteau.

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

A new species of aquatic mammal, a hybrid of a whale and a dolphin, has been identified in waters near Hawaii.

"There's no evidence to suggest it's leading toward anything like species formation".

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

There's a new sea creature swimming in Hawaii waters, researchers with the Cascadia Research Collective recently confirmed: a whale-dolphin hybrid.

Photos of the hybrid show it travelling with one companion - a melon-headed whale, which was also unusual as melon-headed whales typically travel in groups of 200-300.

Scientists from the Cascadia Research Collective observed the pair off the Hawaiian Islands and confirmed that the existence of the hybrid in August 2017.

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For a long time scientists kept the discovery secret.

Scientists who found the specimen tracked numerous species during a study off the island of Kauai previous year.

The hybrid had a typical melon-headed whale's dorsal fin shape and dorsal cape, but it was also blotchy in pigmentation and had a sloping forehead, more reminiscent of a rough-toothed dolphin.

Baird continued to explain that the "morphological appearance" of the animal promoted researchers to get a biopsy sample. Both were spotted in a pod of rough-toothed dolphins.

News of the hybrid proves the 'genetic diversity of the ocean, ' Sea Life Park curator Jeff Pawloski said.

While some news organization have described the melon-headed whale and rough-toothed dolphin hybrid as a new species, in order for that to happen other things need to occur, including more widespread hybridization, Baird said.

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

A mule, for instance, is a hybrid between a male donkey and a female horse.

It's unknown whether this new animal - which the researchers named Steno bredanensis - could produce viable offspring, but in any case, one hybrid animal does not make a new species.

Scientists don't know how old it is but believe it's close to adult age.