An image that was captured by underwater photographer Ayano Suzuki of an odd-looking cetacean calf with a pod of bottlenose dolphins in the Indian Ocean has caused a bit of a stir among the aquarium community, who are pondering whether the strange calf could be a never-before-seen crossbreed of a pilot whale and a bottlenose dolphin…or simply a melon-headed whale calf that strayed too far from home.
The calf exhibits features of both species, with a rounded head and snout of a pilot whale, but a long, muscular body with curved dorsal and pectoral fins of a dolphin.
The hypothesis of a new crossbreed is supported by Kamogawa Seaworld Vice Director Hiroshi Katsumata, who studied the photos and believes that there is a high possibility of it being the first documented case of whale and dolphin crossbreeding in the wild.
However, the idea is refuted by senior staff member Shigetoshi Nishiwaki of the Institute for Cetacean Research, who points out the striking characteristics of the calf that match that of the melon-headed whale, believing that the calf has somehow become stranded from its natural pod and subsequently been accepted by this pod of Indian Ocean bottlenose dolphins.
It should be noted that both pilot and melon-headed whales are, despite their name, members of the dolphin family, so this calf is not necessarily running away to the circus, but perhaps rather spending some quality time with aunts and uncles. Whatever it turns out to be, we hope it enjoys a long and happy life in the deep blue beyond.
Indian Ocean Bottlenose Dolphin
What do you think is the most likely answer to this mystery?