Wholphin / Wolphin Facts

A wholphin or wolphin is a dolphin that is born from a bottlenose dolphin mating with a false killer whale.

The name “Wholphin” comes from a mixture of the false killer whale and bottlenose dolphin names, however the false killer whale scientifically belongs to the dolphin family.

Both the false killer whale and the bottlenose dolphin are part of the toothed whale suborder.

Unfortunately the wholphin appears to be a very rare species and only a handful of wholphins are known to have been born in captivity, thus information regarding this species remains rare.

The oldest known wholphin is Kekaimalu who was born on May 15, 1985 at Sea Life Park in Hawaii.

Physical characteristics

From information that has been captured by wholphins born in captivity it appears that the wholphin tends to posses a mix of both parents physical characteristics.

For example the wholphins skin is a dark gray which appears to be a mix between the false killer whales black skin tone and the bottlenose dolphins light gray skin tone.

The wholphins teeth (66 teeth) also appears to be a medium between its false killer whale (44 teeth) and bottlenose dolphins (88 teeth) parents.

It is also assumed that a healthy wholphin may have a lifespan of around 40 years and grow to an average size of 12 – 20 feet which are also a medium between its parents age and size.

Wholphins have been found to grow much quicker in relation to their size than bottlenose dolphins and can reach the size of a 1-year-old bottlenose dolphins within a few months after birth.

Diet

Wholphins born in captivity have been observed feeding on milk from their mothers nipples and eating frozen fish such as herring and capelin.

Breeding

At first it was believed wholphins may be infertile due to the unknown effects of hybridization between a false killer whale and a bottlenose dolphin, however when Kekaimalu (a female wholphin) gave birth to her first child while at a very young age she quickly disproved the myth of wholphins being infertile.

As Kekaimalu grew older she gave birth to two additional calf’s (a calf is a baby dolphin or whale), one of which was born on December 23 2004 and was healthily nursed and cared for by Kekaimalu.

While her first two children passed away shortly after birth (the 2nd child lived to the age of 2), as of 2009 both the mother and her 3rd wholphin child were stated to be alive and in good health.

From limited information it is assumed that female wholphins who give birth at a young age (possibly within their first 6 – 8 years after birth) and may not have developed their maternal instincts and/or physiology enough to properly nurse and/or care for their young, however in later years once they mature they are likely to nurse, feed and take care of their young and provide it with a healthy upbringing.

Unfortunately not enough data exists to prove these assumptions or provide further information about breeding habits and birth cycles of wholphins.

Habitat

Although reports have been made about wholphins possibly living in the wild there is not enough quality information or DNA tests that exist to give a conclusive answer to whether or not wholphins live outside of captivity and if so what type of habits and behaviors they posses.

It is assumed that if wholphins do exist in the wild they may be found in areas where false killer whales and bottlenose dolphins are likely to be found living in close proximity to one another.