Don’t call dolphin hybrid spotted off Hawaii a ‘wholphin’

Kimberly A. Wood under Cascadia Research Collective NMFS permit 20605

Kimberly A. Wood under Cascadia Research Collective NMFS permit 20605

The melon-headed whale is one of the various species that's called a whale but is technically a dolphin. The marine scientists tagged the hybrid with satellite tracking Global Positioning System, along with a companion, to see where they might go.

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".

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

While the discovery of this hybrid's existence is certainly a great accomplishment, Huffington Post cautions that calling it an entirely new species - which many reports have been doing - may be jumping the gun.

The cross appears to be the first instance of a wild-born hybrid between the two species.

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

The odd pair and their closeness to the other dolphins have led the researchers to speculate that the accompanying melon-headed whale is the hybrid's mother.

In addition to tagging, tracking, and taking tissue samples from some of the creatures, including the whales, whale-dolphin hybrid, and pantropical spotted dolphins, the researchers also recorded underwater vocalizations of the animals in the area.

It's the first of its kind ever documented, and was seen spending most of its time alongside another melon-headed whale. This provided additional information on the effects which Navy sonar has on local marine life.

Scientists have confirmed that an unusual mammal spotted swimming off the coast of Kauai is a cross between a whale and a dolphin.

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

But, it was a biopsy that confirmed their suspicions.

About the discovery of a new species of dolphins, scientists have not yet spoken, because it is not known whether this is a new animal to create viable offspring.

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

However, for that to happen other things need to occur, including more widespread hybridisation, Baird 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.

This latest hybrid animal is not the first to be branded with the "wholfin" name. The Wholphin is a rare find in the wild and can only be produced by the mating of a female bottle nosed dolphin and a male killer whale.

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