Dolphin hybrids recorded in Scottish waters
The first evidence of dolphin hybridisation has been logged off of the island of Lewis, Scotland. Between 2010 and 2014, researchers from the Whale and Dolphin Conservation charity (WDC) have witnessed 4 individuals with the characteristics of 2 species of dolphin. From the routinely taken ID photographs, they suggest that the resident Risso’s dolphins have been mating with bottlenose dolphins resulting in offspring baring the characteristic curved dorsal fins of the Risso’s and the short, distinctive beaks of the bottlenose.
It is unusual for such a small geographical area to have 4 hybridised dolphins, especially considering how rare bottlenose dolphins are off the coast of Britain. Although the reasons behind this cross-species mating remain unclear, suggestions have been made that this is indicative of shrinking populations in British waters leaving Dolphins unable to find a suitable mate within their own species.
The extent of the inter-breeding and the consequences for British dolphins (including the levels of protection) remain unclear at this point.
Ref: BBC news, mynextfone, WDC website.
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