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

The wholphin was spotted near Hawaii. Pic Cascadia Research Collective

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

Baird told ABC News the hybrid animal was pictured with a single melon-headed whale both times they spotted it, which added to the mystery surrounding the unusual animal.

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

In fact, both the rough-toothed dolphin and the melon-headed whale are technically both dolphins. 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.

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

"We had the photos and suspected it was a hybrid from morphological characteristics intermediate between species".

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Manyoutlets described the creature as a "wholphin".

Melon-headed whales swimming in tropical waters (not hybrids).

The discovery, made a year ago, was confirmed this week in a report released by researchers with the Cascadia Research Collective, a nonprofit which in August 2017 conducted a two-week project to photograph, tag and record audio of marine mammals.

It is also only the third confirmed instance of a wild-born hybrid between species in the Delphinidae family.

The researchers were in the area to study the marine mammals and other creatures that live in the area around the Pacific Missile Range Facility. "We were able to get a biopsy sample of the animal".

For an entirely new and separate species to form, two hybrid individuals would have to mate and reproduce.

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News of the hybrid proves the 'genetic diversity of the ocean, ' Sea Life Park curator Jeff Pawloski said. "It isn't and shouldn't be considered a new species", Robin Baird, a biologist with the research group, told HuffPost.

"To know she has cousins out there in the ocean is an fantastic thing to know".

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

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

Many animal hybrids are possible, but few survive past the first generation.

While several examples of human-bred animal hybrids are well known and can thrive in captivity including the zorses, the product of zebra-horse mating, and beefalo, the offspring of bison-beef cattle, naturally occurring animal hybrids are often infertile and therefore evolutionary dead ends.

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

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