whale-dolphin hybrid
whale-dolphin hybrid (Representational picture) Pixabay

Dolphins are known as one of the most intelligent animals living in this world and experts conduct several research projects related to this wonderful species every year. But, this time scientists spotted an unbelievable hybrid whale-dolphin near the coast of Kauai, Hawaii.

As per the CBS news, even though this extremely wired marine creature was seen in August 2017, a new report published by Hawaii's local newspaper The Garden Island on Thursday, July 26 has stated that this species is the result of a melon-headed whale and a rough-toothed dolphin's mating.

To understand their behaviour, scientists took a biopsy sample from the marine animal and analyze its genetics. The lead researcher Robin Baird told the local news outlet that this discovery was their "most unusual finding."

He also added that the research team had the photos of this wired animal and suspected that "it was a hybrid from morphological characteristics intermediate between species."

The researchers said that the biological data has shown that the pantropical spotted dolphins tagged spent a little time off the coast of Kauai and then went to the deep water to the south, east and north of the island. The melon-headed whales first roamed around Kauai waters and then came back to the channel between Maui and Oahu.

This discovery or such hybrid animal might sound surprising and unexpected but, the recent finding proves that hybridization among different species is not unheard of. As per the New York Times, some biologists have claimed that as many as 10 percent of animals and up to 25 percent of plants may breed with other species.

Scientists said that when two species belong to two different genetics or carry different types of chromosomes the offspring typically cannot go on to reproduce. But, whether the same event took place for this newly found hybrid animal or not that is still not clear.

The overall population of these whales varies by location. As mentioned by The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) whales could be found from about 400 individuals near the Hawaiian Islands to 45,000 whales in the eastern tropical Pacific.

While the melon-headed whales are the usual residents of the tropical waters across the globe and also known as the social animals, which often travel in groups of hundreds to over 1000 individuals, on the other hand, rough-toothed dolphins are also found in tropical and warmer waters and usually roam around in a group of 10 to 20 members.

Baird and his Cascadia Research Collective team will be back in Kauai waters in August 2018 for another two weeks of a research project. Since this is the first evidence of hybridization of whale and dolphin, there is a lot of research required to understand its genome and the habits.