Friday, December 2, 2011


I'm sure you've heard of hybrids like Ligers and Mules, but what about Wholphins? They are the result of crosses between two ocean-dwelling mammals- Bottlenose Dolphins and False Killer Whales. I should note, however, that the False Killer Whales (like regular Killer Whales) are members of the Oceanic Dolphin family along with the Bottlenoses, so the relationship isn't as far off as one might think.

While this hybrid might appear in the wild, we only know of them definitively from two individuals living at Sea Life Park in Hawaii. Back in 1985 a female Bottlenose and a male False Killer Whale lived in the same tank, and were performers in the park's aquatic show. No one expected the 14ft Whale and 6ft Dolphin to mate, but the surprise result was Kekaimalu. She herself actually gave birth to a 3/4 Bottlenose offspring in 2005 (She had two previous calves, one died shortly after birth, and one lived till the age of 9). That makes Kekaimalu and Kawili Kai the only known captive Wholphins in the world.

Wholphins are interesting because they area true mix of the species. They grow to a size somewhere in between that of the two species (Kekaimalu's calf was the size of a 1-year-old Bottlenose when she was but 1 month old!). They have an intermediate gray color, and their teeth also fall right down the middle- False Killer Whales have 44, Bottlenose Dolphins have 88, but Kekaimalu has 66!

IUCN Status : Not Listed
Location : Hawaii
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Mammalia -- Order : Cetacea
Family : Delphinidae -- Genus : Pseudorca, Tursiops

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