National News

Researchers on Kauai encounter new whale-dolphin hybrid

Posted August 22

— Researchers may have discovered a new whale-dolphin hybrid in the waters off Kauai.

Researchers at the Cascadia Research Collective took pictures of the creature earlier this month, they believe it's a hybrid of a melon-headed whale and rough-toothed dolphin.

"To the best of my knowledge, a hybrid between the two species has never been recorded before," said Robin Baird, of the Cascadia Research Collective.

Baird said researchers encountered the creature during an 11-day assignment off the coast of Kauai.

"Melon-headed whales by comparison are a lot more unusual around those islands," said Baird.

Melon-headed whales swim in the deep waters across the islands, but are most often seen around the Big Island.

"By comparison, rough-toothed dolphins are the most frequently encountered species of whale or dolphin around Kauai," said Baird.

The hybrid's head shows characteristics from both species. Researchers obtained a biopsy of the hybrid and will send it off to a lab for tests.

"What we will probably find out pretty quickly is what the mother of this animal was, was it a melon-headed whale or rough-toothed dolphin," said Baird.

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