Something rather fishy is going on in the waters off the coast of Kauai, Hawaii as scientists discover a rare whale-dolphin hybrid.
The finding was made by a team of scientists from Cascadia Research Collective last August when they traveled to Hawaii to monitor marine animals through a project funded by the US Navy. During the programme, scientists spotted a rather unusual looking fellow swimming in the waters off Kauai. This particular mammal stood out because it didn’t look quite like the others, he had a completely unique design.
The conspicuous creature carried the same blotchy skin pattern as the rough-toothed dolphins and sported the same dorsal cape of the melon-headed whale. However, this was the first time scientists had seen both of these physical features on the one mammal.
DNA sampling confirmed that it was the first documented hybrid of the two species, which has since been named Steno bredanensis. Despite its name, the hybrid isn’t a whale. Melon-headed whales are actually part of the larger oceanic dolphin family.
The mammal, which is a male, was described as a “most unusual finding,” by Robin Baird – one of the study’s leading authors. He told CBS News that the hybrid was likely fathered by a rough-toothed dolphin and mothered by a melon-headed whale.
“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,” he said
So if you’re planning a trip to Hawaii, see if you can spot him. You might get lucky. Other dolphin species spotted in Hawaiian waters include pilot whales, spinner, bottle nose and spotted dolphins.If you’re looking for actual whales, the majestic humpback whales visit the warm waters of Oahu’s southern seas to breed and give birth to new calves between November and May.