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 user 2005-04-17 at 11:26:00 am Views: 68
  • #8933

    Whale-Dolphin Hybrid Has Baby Wholphin

    HONOLULU (April 05) – The only whale-dolphin mix in
    captivity has given birth to a playful female calf, officials at Sea Life Park
    Hawaii said Thursday.

    The calf was born on Dec. 23 to Kekaimalu, a mix of a false
    killer whale and an Atlantic bottlenose dolphin. Park officials said they waited
    to announce the birth until now because of recent changes in ownership and
    operations at the park.

    The young as-yet unnamed wholphin is one-fourth false
    killer whale and three-fourths Atlantic bottlenose dolphin. Her slick skin is an
    even blend of a dolphin’s light gray and the black coloring of a false killer

    The calf still depends fully on her mother’s milk, but
    sometimes snatches frozen capelin from the hands of trainers, then toys with the
    sardine-like fish.

    She is jumbo-sized compared to purebred dolphins, and is
    already the size of a one-year-old bottlenose.

    “Mother and calf are doing very well,” said Dr. Renato
    Lenzi, general manager of Sea Life Park by Dolphin Discovery. “We are monitoring
    them very closely to ensure the best care for them.”

    Although false killer whales and Atlantic bottlenose
    dolphins are different species, they are classified within the same family by

    “They are not that far apart in terms of taxonomy,” said
    Louis Herman, a leading expert in the study of marine mammals.

    There have been reports of wholphins in the wild, he

    Kekaimalu, whose name means “from the peaceful ocean,” was
    born 19 years ago after a surprise coupling between a 14-foot, 2,000-pound false
    killer whale and a 6-foot, 400-pound dolphin. The animals were the leads in the
    park’s popular tourist water show, featured in the Adam Sandler movie “50 First

    Kekaimalu has given birth to two other calves. One lived
    for nine years and the other, born when Kekaimalu was very young, died a few
    days after birth.

    Park researchers suspect the wholphin’s father is a 15-foot
    long Atlantic bottlenose dolphin named Mikioi.

    “He seems to be totally oblivious to this happening,” Lenzi

    False killer whales do not closely resemble killer whales.
    They grow to 20 feet, weigh up to two tons and have a tapering, rounded snout
    that overhangs their toothed jaw.

    Atlantic bottlenose dolphins reach a maximum size of 12
    feet and can weigh up to 700 pounds.

    Sea Life Park officials said they hope to decide on a name
    for the baby wholphin soon and move her to a large display tank in a few