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Rare whale-dolphin hybrid has been discovered in Hawaii, scientists say

The hybrid, shown in the foreground, swims next to a rare melon-headed whale who may be her mother.

(Kimberly A. Wood/Cascadia Research Collective)

There is a new sea creature to swim in Hawaii waters, researchers with the Cascadia Research Collective recently confirmed: a whale-and dolphin hybrid.

The discovery was first made by researchers with the collective last year, but the report in which the hybrid — the product of a melon-headed whale and rough-toothed dolphin — was released this week.

The hybrid was found by the researchers with the Cascadia Research Collective during a two-week project in Kauai, Hawaii, in August 2017. It is considered to be the first documented hybrid of its kind, Robin Baird, of the project’s head researcher, told Fox News in an e-mail.

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“Hybrids between different species of whales and dolphins have been recorded previously, but this is the first case of a crossing between these two species, and the third confirmed cases (with genetics) of a born in the wild hybrid between two species in the family Delphinidae,” or ocean, dolphins, Baird said.

Baird continued to explain that the “morphological form” of the animal researchers to take a biopsy sample. Genetic testing later confirmed the suspicion that the animal is the whale and dolphin hybrid.

The hybrid picture is displayed in the foreground, was fathered by a rough-toothed dolphin, scientists said.

(Kimberly A. Wood/Cascadia Research Collective)

The hybrid is likely to be fathered by a rough-toothed dolphin while the mother is supposed to be a melon-headed whale. The latter is a rarity in Hawaii, The Garden Island reported.

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“Such a junction, where the genetic data of a species is integrated in the other, has long been suspected as a source of taxonomic uncertainty in dolphins, and in this case gives support to that,” Baird added.

During the two-week project, scientists also found and tagged another rare sea creature, according to the report: pan-tropical spotted dolphins.

While Baird noted that the likelihood of finding the hybrid for a second time are slim, researchers will return to Kauai next month to investigate the discovery.

“If we find it again, we want to try to get a biopsy sample of the melon-headed whale it was associated with getting underwater footage [and] images to better assess morphology,” Baird said.

Madeline Farber is a Reporter for Fox News. You can follow her on Twitter @MaddieFarberUDK.

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