Dolphin hybrids

Family Delphinidae



Abbreviation Key >>

Cephalorhynchus sp. See: Australophocoena dioptrica.

Delphinus capensis [Long-beaked Common Dolphin]
× Delphinus delphis [Short-beaked Common Dolphin] ENHR. Jefferson and Van Waerebeek (2002) found clinal variation between these types in the Indian Ocean, which indicates gene flow between the them.
× Lagenorhynchus obscurus [Dusky Dolphin] NHR(Peru). Dolphins of these two types frequently associate in large groups of up to a thousand animals, of which duskies generally make up less than ten percent of the individuals present. Reyes 1996.
× Tursiops truncatus (♂) [Common Bottle-nosed Dolphin] CHR. HPF(♀♀). CON: Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Four different bottlenose females bore hybrids to a Tursiops truncatus male at SeaWorld in southern California. A male and a female hybrid have both lived ten years. The female backcrossed to T. truncatus. First crosses are intermediate in color, striping pattern, and body proportions. However, the backcross calf was similar in size and overall appearance to Tursiops truncatus. Tooth count is a good indicator of hybridity: F1 hybrids and a neonate backcross have more teeth than T. truncatus (76-104) and fewer than D. capensis (189-227). Zornetzer and Duffield 2003.

Delphinus delphis [Short-beaked Common Dolphin]
See also: Delphinus capensis
× Lagenorhynchus obliquidens [Pacific White-sided Dolphin] CHR. CON: off southern Japan. Duffield 1999; Odell (cited by Baird et al. 1998, p. 199).
× Tursiops truncatus [Common Bottle-nosed Dolphin] CHR. HPF(♂&♀). Seaworld San Diego and Discovery Cove have hybrids. A male hybrid successfully backcrossed to T. truncatus, which, by Haldane's rule suggests that dolphin hybrids of this type are at least partially fertile in both sexes. Citation.

Globicephala macrorhynchus [Short-finned Pilot Whale]
× Globicephala melas [Long-finned Pilot Whale] CON: Atlantic (off the coast of Spain). Spanish researchers genetically verified the first dolphin hybrid of this type known in 2013. See news article: Researchers identify hybrid pilot whale.
× Tursiops truncatus [Common Bottle-nosed Dolphin] CHR. CON: Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Antrim and Cornell 1981; Duffield 1999; Sylvestre and Tasaka 1985.

Globicephala melas [Long-finned Pilot Whale] See: Globicephala macrorhynchus

Grampus griseus [Risso’s Dolphin]
× Tursiops truncatus (♂?) [Common Bottle-nosed Dolphin] CAONHR. CON: Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. In the first report, three probable dolphin hybrids of this type were stranded at Blacksod Bay (western coast of Ireland). This bservation of a group of three hybrids suggests that hybridization of this type is ongoing. Natural hybrids have since been biochemically verified. Enoshima Aquarium (Japan) reported four captive hybrids in 1984 alone (two of each sex). Fraser 1940; International Zoo Yearbook 1982 (p. 420) 1983 (p. 322), 1984/1985 (p. 532), 1986 (p. 486); Klinowska 1991; Kruse et al. 1999 (p. 188); Miyazaki et al. 1992; Sezaki et al. 1984; Shimura et al. 1986. Additional citation for dolphin hybrids of this type.

Lagenorhynchus obliquidens [Pacific White-sided Dolphin]
See also: Delphinus delphis.
× Tursiops truncatus [Common Bottle-nosed Dolphin] CHR. Hybrids of both sexes have been produced in Japanese aquaria (Shinagawa Aquarium and Marine World Umino Nakamichi).

Lagenorhynchus obscurus [Dusky Dolphin]
See also: Delphinus capensis.
× Lissodelphis peronii (♂?) [Southern Right-Whale Dolphin] NHR(Chubut, southern Argentina). A probable hybrid was video-recorded in Golfo Nuevo (Peninsula Valdé́s ). It was with Dusky Dolphins, which suggests its mother was a dusky (when maternal care occurs, a hybrid when adult will usually remain with and later attempt to breed with the maternal type). Benegas et al. 2000; Yazdi 2002.
× Tursiops truncatus [Common Bottle-nosed Dolphin] Off New Zealand, Wursig observed matings between these dolphins and probable natural hybrids. Wursig (cited by Baird et al. 1998, p. 199).

Lissodelphis peronii [Southern Right-Whale Dolphin] See: Lagenorhynchus obscurus.

Video: False Killer Whale × Bottle-nosed Dolphin hybrids

Pseudorca crassidens [False Killer Whale]
× Tursiops truncatus (♂) [Common Bottle-nosed Dolphin] CHR(Japan and at Sea Life Park, Hawaii). NHR?? CON: Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. HPF(♀♀). Wolphins, as the hybrids are known, are intermediate in size (~12 ft long, ~800 lbs), color and shape. They have 66 teeth (a bottlenose has 88, a false killer whale, 44). A female wholphin produced two calves in backcrosses to T. truncatus (which look much like bottlenoses). At 6 months one was already the size of a year-old bottlenose. Herds of false killer whales and bottlenose dolphins associate in the wild and there are anecdotal reports of natural hybrids. False killer whales are about five times as large bottle-nosed dolphins. A female hybrid born in May 1985 at Sea World in Hawaii was still alive in 1998. This hybrid reaches a weight of about 800 lbs and a length of 12 feet. Bottle-nosed dolphins and false killer whales differ markedly in gestation period (12 months and 15.5 months, respectively). Breese 1992; Duffield 1999; International Zoo Yearbook 1990 (p. 453); Nishiwaki and Tobayama 1982, 1984; Odell and McClune 1999 (p. 230, 235); Ryan 1985; Sylvestre and Tasaka 1985. Internet Citations: HOTS.

Sousa chinensis [Indo-Pacific Humpbacked Dolphin]
× Tursiops truncatus (♂) [Common Bottle-nosed Dolphin] NHR(e coast of Africa). CON: Indian and southwestern Pacific oceans. Copulatory behavior was observed between Tursiops males and Sousa females off the coast of Zanzibar (Stensland et al. 1998), and Karczmarski et al. (1997) observed and photographically documented an S. chinensisfemale accompanied by a Tursiops-like calf in Algoa Bay on the Eastern Cape coast of South Africa. The pair was in a group of dolphins that otherwise only contained humpbacks.

Stenella attenuata [Pantropical Spotted Dolphin]
× Stenella longirostris (♀) [Spinner Dolphin] NHR(Fernando de Noronha Archipelago, tropical West Atlantic). A repeatedly sighted hybrid, living in a large group of spinner dolphins, had a S. longirostris mother. Silva et al. 2005.
× Tursiops truncatus (♂) [Common Bottle-nosed Dolphin] ENHI? Perrin et. al. report that Stenella frontalis (Atlantic Spotted Dolphin)is morphologically intermediate with respect to many characters, for example, weight, osteological measures, skull characters, details of skin coloration etc., and that it is markedly variable. Moreover, LeDuc et al. found that cytochrome B sequences of T. truncatus and T. aduncus were more similar to those of S. frontalis than to those of S. attenuata, with which S. frontalis is often lumped. Such findings suggest S. frontalis as a PHP of this cross (although there are no explicit reports that such is the case). T. aduncus is often lumped under T. truncatus (as in Perrin et al.), but is also treated separately (as in LeDuc et. al.). LeDuc et al. 1999; Perrin et. al. 1987.

Stenella clymene [Clymene Dolphin]
× Stenella longirostris (♀) [Spinner Dolphin] NHR(Fernando de Noronha Archipelago, tropical West Atlantic). A probable hybrid had a spinner mother. Both were living in a group of spinner dolphins. Adult clymene and spinner dolphins have been observed in mixed groups. See also: Stenella longirostris × Stenella longirostris. Amaral et al. 2014; Silva et al. 2005.

Stenella coeruleoalba [Striped Dolphin]
× Stenella longirostris (♂) [Spinner Dolphin] ENHR. Molecular genetic tests indicate that the Clymene Dolphin (Stenella clymene) first arose from this cross. Its mitochondrial DNA is similar to that of striped dolphins, which shows that the maternal parent in the original cross was S. coeruleoalba. However, nuclear similarity to spinner dolphins is consistent with the idea that the initial hybrids backcrossed with Stenella longirostris to produce S. clymene. According to a New York Times interview with Dr. Ann J. Amaral, leader of the study that first reported this dolphin hybrids of this type, "There is still a little 'backcrossing' going on between species, where occasionally a spinner dolphin might breed with a clymene dolphin... The three species also live harmoniously in the Atlantic Ocean, even cooperating at times." See also: Stenella clymene × Stenella longirostris. Amaral et al. 2014.

Stenella frontalis [Atlantic Spotted Dolphin]
See also: Stenella attenuata × Tursiops truncatus.
× Tursiops truncatus (♂) [Common Bottle-nosed Dolphin] NHR. CON: Atlantic. Herzing et al. (2003) observed a hybrid calf with its S. frontalis mother (on the Great Bahama Bank). They also note, as does Melillo (2005), that male bottlenoses pursue and engage in copulatory behavior with spotted females. On several occasions spotted females were seen tending bottlenose calves. Melillo 2005.

Note: Wilson and Reeder (2005, p. 930) note that the “white-bellied spinner” is thought to be a natural hybrid derived from crossing between Stenella longirostris longirostris and S. longirostris orientalis.

Stenella longirostris [Spinner Dolphin]
See also: Stenella attenuata; S. clymene; S. coeruleoalba.
+ Tursiops truncatus [Common Bottle-nosed Dolphin] Although no dolphin hybrids of this type seem to have been reported, the television program Animals Like Us reported that a family of bottle-nosed dolphins adopted and raised a stray spinner calf.

Steno bredanensis [Rough-toothed Dolphin]
× Tursiops truncatus [Common Bottle-nosed Dolphin] CANHR. CON: worldwide, temperate and tropical waters. Sea Life Park (Hawaii) had a dolphin hybrid of this type in 1971. Van Gelder (1977b) notes that before this viable hybrid was reported Steno and Tursiops had been placed in separate families (Stenidae and Delphinidae respectively). Baird et al. 1998 (p. 198); Dohl et al. 1974; Duffield and Kang 1973; International Zoo Yearbook 1973 (p. 329); Sharp 1981; Simões-Lopes et al. 1994; Sylvestre and Tasaka 1985.

Tursiops aduncus [Indo-Pacific Bottle-nosed Dolphin]
× Tursiops truncatus [Common Bottle-nosed Dolphin] CANHR. CON: Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans. Kemper says a specimen collected off the southern coast of Australia was a suspected hybrid on the basis of its mtDNA haplotype and that other individuals in her study were morphologically intermediate. Aduncus is an inshore form, truncatus, a larger, offshore form. The two are often lumped under T. truncatus. Wang et al. argue that reproductive isolation between these dolphins must be nearly complete, but mention a likely natural hybrid (p. 154). However, they are so similar that dolphin hybrids of this type, both captive and natural, may be underreported. International Zoo Yearbook 1988 (p. 465); Kemper 2004 (pp. 30, 42-43); Sylvestre and Tasaka 1985; Wang et al. 2000.

Tursiops truncatus [Common Bottle-nosed Dolphin]
See also: Delphinus capensis; D. delphis; Globicephala macrorhynchus; Grampus griseus; Lagenorhynchus obliquidens, L. obscurus; Pseudorca crassidens; Sousa chinensis; Stenella frontalis, S. longirostris; Steno bredanensis; Tursiops aduncus.
× Delphinapterus leucas [Beluga] NHR?? Post (2001) suggests an aberrant fossil atlas (Late Pleistocene-Early Holocene) from the North Sea might from a whale-dolphin hybrid resulting from a “liaison between a white whale (Delphinapterus leucas) and a bottle-nose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus).” D. leucas is assigned to family Monodontidae, so this is an interfamilial cross.

dog-cow hybrid A dog-cow hybrid?

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By the same author: Handbook of Avian Hybrids of the World, Oxford University Press (2006).

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