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Ever Heard Of A Wholphin?

Janelle Cabuco |
September 27, 2013 | 9:02 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Kawili Kai (Flickr Creative Commons/Janice McIntire)
Kawili Kai (Flickr Creative Commons/Janice McIntire)

Photos of a possible crossbreed of a pilot whale and an Indian Ocean bottlenose dolphin have been taken near Mikurajima Island. Photographer Ayano Suzuki took photos of this rare young calf swimming amongst a pod of Indian Ocean bottlenose dolphins. 

Wholphins are hybrids born from a mating of a bottlenose dolphin and a false killer whale.

Kamogawa Seaworld took a look at these pictures and said that there is a high possibility that this calf truly is a whale and dolphin hybrid. However, a senior staff member of the Institute of Cetacean Research believes that the calf is actually a young melon-headed whale that has strayed from its pod.

Though the young calf does have features resembling that of an Indian Ocean bottlenose dolphin and a pilot whale, many skeptics believe that the calf is actually a young whale that has been adopted into the Indian Ocean bottlenose dolphin pod. 

Although it is extremely rare for a dolphin pod to take a whale calf in, this rare adoption process has occurred in the past. Not to mention that earlier this year, a pod of sperm whales adopted a deformed bottlenose dolphin. Though the adoption process between whales and dolphins is rare, it does happen on occasion. 

In addition, there have been past reports of wholphin sightings and births. In 2004, Sea Life Park Hawaii’s Kekaimalu, the world’s only known whale-dolphin mix at the time, gave birth to a female calf named Kawili Kai. This calf’s skin color was a definite marker of her one-fourth killer whale and three-fourths Atlantic bottlenose dolphin decent; she had an unusual blend of a dolphin’s light gray color as well as the black coloring of a false killer whale. 

Though the birth of a wholphin is rare, scientists actually classify false killer whales and Atlantic bottlenose dolphins within the same family, even though they are different species. Like Atlantic bottlenose dolphins and false killer whales, bottlenose dolphins and pilot whales have also been categorized under the same family. 

There is limited information out right now, but it seems that scientists have not reached a concrete conclusion as to whether this baby calf is a whale, a dolphin, or a whale/dolphin mix. Nor have they come up with a plan of action to prove their theories. 


Reach Staff Reporter Janelle Cabuco here.



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