Robin Baird, head of the research project, told The Garden Island, a local Kauai newspaper, that it was the team's "most unusual finding".
While surveying whales and dolphins off the Hawaiian Islands, scientists spotted a creature they've never seen before: a peculiar hybrid between a dolphin and a small whale. In the 11-day period, the scientists made hundreds of sightings of various species such as bottlenose dolphins, rough-toothed dolphins, sperm whales, and spinner dolphins.
Scientists first discovered off the coast of Hawaii cub krupnosortnogo melon-headed whale and dolphins.
Melon-headed whales are technically dolphins and belong to the family Delphinidae.
Regardless, it's discovery caught scientists off guard since melon-headed whales don't typically swim in the waters off of Hawaii.
The term was first used in 1985 at Hawaii's Sea Life Park for a hybrid between a false killer whale and an Atlantic bottle-nose dolphin.
From the Pacific Missile Range Facility range, the Navy were able to record acoustics of the animals in their habitat, which they were then able to pass over to Baird and his crew.
In August 2017, scientists conducted a wide survey of the waters of Kauai in which they observed the whale and dolphin species residing in the area with the help of boat-based efforts and passive acoustic monitoring.
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News of the hybrid animal hit headlines across the globe when a paper describing the find was published in July 2018.
"We're hoping that just by talking to some tour operators and fishermen, especially folks heading across the channel to Niihau, we might get tips and encounter something like pilot whales", Baird said, as he outlined his plans to track the species further.
'Genetic analyses of a biopsy sample obtained from the putative hybrid in comparison to a melon-headed whale and a rough-toothed dolphin indicated that the individual has the genotype expected for an F1 hybrid at 11 of 14 nucleotide positions, ' the authors wrote. Science known cases where genetic hybrids are either completely sterile, or are reproduced with great difficulty, as is the case with the mule - a hybrid of a donkey and a Mare.
"To know she has cousins out there in the ocean is an unbelievable thing to know".
It's unknown whether this new animal - which the researchers named Steno bredanensis - could produce viable offspring, but in any case, one hybrid animal does not make a new species.
This latest hybrid animal is not the first to be branded with the "wholfin" name.
The hybrid was only traveling with one companion - a melon-headed whale.
"To know she has cousins out there in the ocean is an fantastic thing to know", said Sea Life park curator Jeff Pawloski in response to the new discovery, which he said was proof of the "genetic diversity of the ocean".