Half whale-half dophin spotted for first time off coast of Hawaii

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Scientists from the Cascadia Research Collective have discovered a rare dolphin-whale hybrid off the coast of Kauai, Hawaii, according to a report published last week.

"It increases their ability to understand not only how species are using the range, but what effects Navy sonar may have on them", Baird says.

What's interesting-aside from the fact it's a rare sighting-is that researchers spotted a single melon-headed whale in a pod of rough-toothed dolphins.

Researchers photographed the animal during their field work.

In an email to Huffington Post, Baird adds that the genetics revealed the creature's father was a rough-toothed dolphin, while the mother was a melon-headed whale.

Baird told CBS News that scientists were able to get a biopsy sample from the hybrid to confirm its unusual parentage.

The cross-species hybridization may seem freakish, but is made possible by the fact that melon-headed whales aren't actually whales.

It proved to be an eventful project for the team, as they were also able to spot and tag two other species that are seldom seen in the location: melon-headed whales and pantropical spotted dolphins.

However, he's not he first dolphin hybrid from the wild, with researchers noting he was the third known case of the Delphinidae family partnering up outside their species.

He's believe to be the first example of cross-species lovin' between rough-toothed dolphins and melon-headed whales.

However, though it's an exciting discovery, researchers point out it is not, as commonly thought, a new species.

However, for that to happen other things need to occur, including more widespread hybridisation, Baird said.

Some hybrid animals, such as the mule - a hybrid of a male donkey and female horse - are mostly sterile and therefore can not propagate easily.

It was observed swimming with a melon-headed whale, and together, the pair covered a lot of territory.

A likely scenario for how the hybrid came to be is a melon-headed whale getting separated from its group and ending up traveling with rough-toothed dolphins.

Kimberly A Wood/Cascadia Research The hybrid is in the front, with the melon-headed whale that researchers suspect is the mother. Aww!

Baird said this is unlikely to be the start of a whole new species of dolphin, however, because male hybrids are often sterile, and because only one of its kind has been spotted so far.

The discovery came about past year when a team of sceintists from Cascadia Research Collective were undertaking a two-week project tracking and observing cetaceans off the coast of Kaua'i.