Photo Credit: Kimberly A. Wood | Cascadia Research via AP 2017, via source.
By: Laura O’Brien
Scientists spotted an animal that appeared to be a hybrid between two dolphin species off the coast of Kauai, Hawaii last year. The team who found the unique dolphin were with Cascadia Research Collective. A biologist with the team, Robin Baird, said, “we had the photos and suspected it was a hybrid from morphological characteristics intermediate between species”. A new report from the collective confirms that the animal was indeed a hybrid. Baird told CBS News, “based on the genetics, the father was a rough-toothed dolphin and the mother a melon-headed whale”. Dolphins are toothed whales, which is why melon-headed dolphins are also called melon-headed whales. Melon-headed whales are rare in Hawaiian waters, which makes the discovery even more exciting.
Researchers were able to put a satellite tag on the hybrid dolphin, and take a biopsy sample, which provided the evidence needed to prove that the animal was truly a hybrid. Researchers also tagged a melon-headed whale, and another species that is rare in Hawaii, pantropical spotted dolphins. The team has already made some amazing finds, and we hope that their research will continue to produce new information!